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“He was a master at it…” Sir Dave Brailsford reveals what Sir Alex Ferguson told him was the secret to success at Man Utd



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Sir Dave Brailsford has described Sir Alex Ferguson as the ‘master’ of one key management trait, which was the secret to success at Manchester United.

Brailsford, 59, will be playing a major part in Ineos’ attempted turnaround at Old Trafford. The cycling expert has been inducted on the club board alongside Jean Claude Blanc and has already started his work.

The Ineos chief started off by visiting Carrington on New Year’s Eve, the day after United suffered a 2-1 loss against Nottingham Forest, and he has been speaking to staff and players across the board since then, according to The Athletic.

Brailsford will be aiming to get the correct acquisitions off the pitch for United in the coming weeks and months, with Paul Mitchell and Dan Ashworth favourites for the positions of Head of Recruitment and Sporting Director.

Known for his ruthless approach in order to maximise his teams, Brailsford learned many lessons from legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who he would regularly speak to about leadership skills.

Ferguson, 82, displayed extraordinary success across three different decades, and it was not something that happened by chance. The Scotsman would often make his own ruthless decisions in terms of his playing staff – selling players who were still considered reliable assets by many and buying talent that not many had heard about.

However, that moving wheel that Ferguson created allowed him to keep his ship fresh and in line, something that Brailsford has taken great inspiration from.

“It was what Alex Ferguson did ever so well,” Brailsford told the Diary of a CEO podcast. “There’s always a challenge with teams when you’ve got a generation who grow together, and they come together, and you’ll have two, three, four years of amazing success with a group who’ve bonded, and they’re on a journey together. And, of course, then you start to get towards the end of that.

“And at what point do you bring young talent in and let some of the more established talent go, you know, and there’s a transition. And he did that ever so well. He really did that ever so well. And we met and chatted a couple of times about that, when I was younger, up in the velodrome in Manchester, he’d pop over to the velodrome, and we’d sit there and chat.

“That was always one of the big things I wanted to ask him, you know, is like, okay, what are you watching? What are you seeing? Why are you doing this? What, you know, what have you seen there that makes you think that’s the right time to change? And you’re bringing this youngster in here, you know.

“He’d quite often say that people get a bigger voice. They get a bigger stand in the dressing room. They might start to second guess you, ‘I’m not so sure about that gaffer’, you know, and they’d have an influence. There would be the celebrity, the media, and other things going on, etc, and definitely sooner rather than later, that would be, ‘right, okay, off we go’, and he’d change it.

“Listening to him talk about it, he knew exactly what he was doing, to be fair to him, and he was a master at it.”

Brailsford has led a similar approach throughout his career and has explained that he would simply not work with talented individuals who do not have the correct drive.

The new United chief will be desperate to get off to a good start at Ferguson’s old hunting ground once Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s deal has been ratified by the Premier League.