Alex Ferguson talks Man City, Van Persie and Ronaldo

Ferguson's rare in-depth interview

In a candid interview with Football Focus, Sir Alex Ferguson talks about Manchester United's £25m capture of Robin van Persie, the threat posed by Manchester City, and Wednesday's Champions League clash against a Real Madrid side inspired by former Old Trafford favourite Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Scot, who turned 71 on 31 December, also discusses retirement, mind games with managerial rival Jose Mourinho and some of the many myths that have grown around him over the years.

On Manchester City:

"They are a danger, there is no doubt about that. Whether it's the semi-finals of the FA Cup, the Charity Shield or challenging for the league, we are going to meet each other in big games now. For many years, we had Arsenal. For quite a few years, we had Chelsea. Now we've got City."

On signing Robin van Persie:

"I never thought we had a chance of getting Robin van Persie because I didn't think Arsenal would sell to us.

"My discussions with Arsene were good but long, probably a couple of months. They realised that the lad wanted to leave. It was a matter of negotiating a price with Arsene."

On Van Persie the player:

"His first season with us has been phenomenal and he has given everybody a lift, in terms of his knowledge of the game and his ability."

On the importance of attending training:

"I never miss a training session. My observation is the most important part now."

On loyalty in football:

"There are members of my staff who have been with me for 20 years or more. That creates a loyalty for both sides - from me to them and from them to me."

On the myths:

"There are a lot of myths surrounding people who are successful. The great one is I'm a former shipyard worker. I've never worked in a shipyard. My dad and my brothers and my uncles all worked there but not me. I was too intelligent.

"There are a lot of little things like that but there are too many things to worry about in our game. The industry is cut-throat."

On his use of mind games:

"That mind games thing is definitely overrated. It's a bit of a myth."

On Jose Mourinho:

"I think he plays games, too, and enjoys that part. He is brilliant at it. There is that mischievous part about him. You are never quite sure what he is up to. I don't go down that road and contest that because he is clever [and] I let him get on with it. As long as he keeps bringing me a decent bottle of wine, I'll let him off."

On Real Madrid:

"I watch Real Madrid every week. I watched them on Saturday night when they played Granada. I thought Ronaldo scored a great goal again, only it was for the other team..."

On Wednesday's game at the Bernabeu:

"I've got to make sure I pick the right team. That's the biggest challenge. We know their obvious strengths. The atmosphere will be absolutely fantastic. They don't lose many games at the Bernabeu."

On players becoming managers:

"There have been situations when a guy has been a player one day and then a manager the next. You tell me how that works? I read a lot of nonsense about fast-tracking players because they were internationals. Whether you have been an international or a non-league player, to be able to be successful in management, you have to have a long apprenticeship."

On retirement:

"This question comes up more and more simply because, as each year goes on, I get older. It's a fact of life. I can't avoid that. The issue is how I feel within myself.

"As you get older, you are not guaranteed your health. No-one is when you get into your 70s. Touch wood, my health remains for a long time yet. At the moment, everything is hunky dory, but you never know."

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