Vol. 4 Num 36 Wed. July 02, 2003  

Bully Fergie!

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has been exposed as a dressing room bully who rules Old Trafford by fear.

Argentine star Juan Sebastien Veron says Fergie's infamous "flying boot" incident with David Beckham last season was not a one-off and that the Scot regularly throws plastic bottles around when he loses his temper with his United stars.

But Veron, 28, insists the players respond to Ferguson's shock tactics and it is one of the main reasons behind their incredible success.

"Bottles are thrown in the dressing-room. One time I had to dodge one which flew very close to my head. Ferguson doesn't do it intentionally, he's not looking to hit anybody in particular, but he throws them," Veron told the Daily Mirror.

"Sometimes he's more withdrawn, then he gets close to you to speak to you and when he has to throw a bottle he does. He loses his cool.

"But I don't mind. He corrects things and it doesn't bother me at all. He's very respected at the club. Most of the players know him as he's brought them up from the juniors.

"It doesn't surprise me or worry me. On the contrary, it seems like it encourages me to give everything."

Ferguson is famous for dressing down players he feels have let the side down with an eyeball-to-eyeball tactic known as the hairdryer treatment.

But none of his outbursts have caused as much uproar as Ferguson's clash with Beckham after United's FA Cup defeat to bitter rivals Arsenal at Old Trafford in April.

Fergie stormed in and kicked a boot lying on the floor that hit England captain Beckham above the eye.

Just three months later Beckham was sent packing to Real Madrid.

He completes his 35 million euro move to the Bernabeu on Wednesday.

Veron admits Ferguson's tactics are different from what he was used to at Lazio before his 28 million pound (46 million dollar) move to Old Trafford.

But the South American insists the players have an unmistakable respect for their manager who coaxed them into a late run to overhaul Arsenal for the title last season.

"He is a great motivator and gives us great belief," said Veron. "I remember a dressing-room talk when he told us we had to win all the matches that were left.

"We had to show we were Manchester United, one of the most important clubs in the world. And everything went well from there on. He showed his personality."

Ferguson has also been one of Veron's most loyal supporters as his form ebbed and flowed since his transfer from Lazio and Veron insists he is happy at Old Trafford despite constant speculation over a return to Italy.