Former Aberdeen assistant Willie Garner today revealed Sir Alex Ferguson’s mind games ahead of the 1986 Scottish Cup defeat of Hearts.
Just seven days before the Hampden showdown the Jambos had blown the league title with a shock 2-0 loss at Dundee.
Hearts needed just a point on the final day of the league season to deliver their first league title in 26 years.
Even if a Hearts side who were on a 27-game unbeaten run somehow lost at Dens Park, second-placed Celtic needed a big win to edge it on goal difference.
The unthinkable for Hearts happened as they lost 2-0 and Celtic beat St Mirren 5-0 to claim the league crown.
Such was the extent of title heartache Hearts boss Alex MacDonald and chairman Wallace Mercer hired a psychologist to get them over the trauma.
All that expense was wiped out in seconds by a master-stroke from Fergie ahead of Aberdeen’s emphatic 3-0 win.
Garner said: “Hearts lost the league title against Dundee the Saturday before we were due to face them in the Scottish Cup final.
“The manager discovered Hearts had got a psychologist in to get them focused on the cup final and forget about the previous week at Dens Park.
“On the day he made sure we arrived at Hampden first, ahead of Hearts.
“Sir Alex then said that when the Hearts’ team bus comes pick any player, walk up to them, shake their hand and say ‘Unlucky last week’.
“That just planted that defeat at Dundee right back into their heads.
“They also thought that’s really nice of the Aberdeen players saying that.
“But of course they had just spent money on a psychologist trying to get that out of their heads for a week.
“We put it right back in and then John Hewitt scored within a few minutes of the final. We battered them in that game.”
Gothenburg Great Hewitt netted after just five minutes to pile the pressure on an already emotionally shattered Hearts.
Hewitt netted early in the second half with Billy Stark adding a third in the 74th minute to complete a nightmare week for the Tynecastle club.
It also completed the domestic cup double for Fergie and No.2 Garner, having lifted the League Cup earlier in the season with a 3-0 defeat of Hibs.
A former player under Sir Alex at Pittodrie, Garner had won the Premier League title and League Cup in a distinguished playing career at Aberdeen.
He returned in 1984, aged just 29, to become assistant to Sir Alex when his previous No.2 Archie Knox left to manage Dundee.
Garner won all three domestic honours as assistant to Fergie before he was replaced, coincidentally by Knox in 1986.
He said: “I went to play for Celtic but it didn’t work out for me there.
“I went on loan to Alloa where Alex Totten was the manager and also a friend of mine as we came from the same town, Denny.
“In the month I was there Alex took the Falkirk job and he said to me he had put my name in for the Alloa job.
“Alloa offered me the job. I phoned Sir Alex for advice and he said take the Alloa job because you never know if the opportunity will come up again.
“I was the youngest manager in Britain, younger than Brian Clough when he got his first job.
“I had been at Alloa for a couple of years when Archie Knox went to Dundee as manager.
“The boss phoned me and said he wanted me to come back to Aberdeen as his assistant manager.
“I thought ‘wow’.”
Now 64, Garner also played for Aberdeen’s reserves in the two years he was assistant to Sir Alex.
He said: “Sir Alex had remembered times when I wasn’t getting a game at Aberdeen but was no problem to him.
“In the afternoons I would take the young boys like Davie Robertson, Paul Wright, Joe Miller and Stevie Gray for training. I used to take them to the training park and work away with them.
“Sir Alex said that showed I had the knowledge and the will, and that I wanted to do something after I stopped playing.
“But I didn’t want to stop playing so I played with the reserves when they had midweek games.
“I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a great time.”