“People say he’s mellowed with age. Aye, right”.
That was Neale Cooper’s assessment yesterday as the world waited for the latest instalment of Sir Alex Ferguson’s forthright views and outspoken opinions on his players and the game.
One by one, the snippets of information in Ferguson’s new book trickled out as the man dubbed the greatest ever manager told the world about the last 13 years of his 27 at the helm of Manchester United.
About Wayne Rooney’s struggles to stay fit. About how David Beckham and Roy Keane had to go after they dared stand up to Ferguson. About how he turned down the England job – not once, but twice.
But for Gothenburg Great Cooper, there were no surprises in the legen- dary former Aberdeen manager’s views.
The Ross County assistant manager scoffed at the notion Ferguson has gone for shock value in his latest autobiography.
Cooper stressed that his former manager’s views are not salacious, headline-grabbing tales but merely an honest insight into how he operates.
Cooper said: “I laugh when people say he’s mellowed with age. Aye, right.
“He is the top man and always will be in my book, but his comments say more about the men he worked with than himself.
“I endured my fair share of rollickings from him in my career, but I could handle it and that’s the key.
“You had two choices as a player. Do what he asked or pack your bags. Take it easy or try to stand up to him and there was only going to be one winner.
“He demanded the best from you and was not afraid to let you know if you were letting him down, but whatever he said it was always for the benefit of the team.
“I was 16 when he had me cleaning toilets at Pittodrie on a Friday afternoon. He stopped me one day and told me to go home early as I was playing for the first team on the Saturday. That was him in a nutshell. He had this incredible belief and he was not afraid to put his faith in you. But if you let him down he was quick to get on your case and if you didn’t buck up your ideas, nine times out of 10 you were soon out the door.
“He carried that with him to Manchester United. It was a massive job in comparison to Aberdeen and he had some big decisions to make as soon as he arrived.
“But his greatest strength was the fact he was fearless. It didn’t matter who you were or what you had done in the game, you did it his way or suffered the consequences.
“The revelations which have come out tell you he was the same man at Old Trafford as he was at Pittodrie.”