Ferguson’s reaction after derby defeat in 2002 shows what is wrong with Manchester United’s mentality

Ruud van Nistelrooy and Sir Alex Ferguson Manchester United
Ruud van Nistelrooy and Sir Alex Ferguson Manchester United - IMAGO / Paul Marriott

Manchester United were recently beaten 2-0 by Manchester City in the Premier League and former defender Rio Ferdinand has revealed how Sir Alex Ferguson reacted to a defeat against their cross-town rivals back in 2002.

Ferdinand had just joined Manchester United from Leeds United and it was his first Derby against Manchester City.

Apparently, the Red Devils failed to execute the manager’s plans and they were beaten 3-1 at Maine Road.

Ferdinand recalls the dressing down the then Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy received from the manager because he had swapped shirt with one of the rival players.

Apparently, the Dutch international striker walked into the dressing room with a Manchester City shirt in his hand after the game and Sir Alex Ferguson came up with the destructive reaction stating that if any player was seen repeating the gesture they would not play for Manchester United again.

“We got beat 3-1 at Maine Road with Shaun Goater scoring two goals,” he told his Rio Ferdinand Presents FIVE YouTube channel.

“That was the first derby I played and the moment I realised how big it was in the changing room after. We walked in and the manager shut the door. It was quiet and then all of a sudden he just erupted.

“Ruud van Nistelrooy, who was the God then, walked in with a City shirt in his hand and I remember Sir Alex Ferguson just absolutely unloaded on him. He destroyed him, saying: “If I ever see any of you walking with a City shirt ever again you’ll never play for this club.

“That’s how he was, he was just mad. That’s when I sat there and thought: “This is a big game, isn’t it?”

“I didn’t realise before that game and ever since then, whether you win more or less, I knew that week leading up to a derby was all or nothing.”

Looking back at the incident, one has to wonder whether Manchester United are that serious about the rivalry anymore.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were comfortably despatched in the Premier League recently and the Red Devils lacked the quality and the fighting desire against their bitter rivals. It is evident that they lacked fierce hatred towards their rivals like the United teams of the past.

Manchester United were comfortably beaten by Liverpool at Old Trafford as well and clearly, the Premier League giants are lacking in hunger and identity right now.

A club of their stature should be doing far better against their bitter rivals and it will be interesting to see if the Norwegian manager can get things back on track at Old Trafford in the coming weeks.