Rio Ferdinand explains how Sir Alex Ferguson used to take Manchester United players to play Arsenal

‘They can’t deal with it’: Rio Ferdinand explains how Sir Alex Ferguson used to fire up Manchester United players for ‘babying’ Arsenal at the height of his feud with Gunners boss Arsene Wenger

  • Rio Ferdinand details Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad talks ahead of Arsenal games
  • Sir Alex and Arsene Wenger had a fierce rivalry during matches
  • Ferdinand revealed Ferguson referred to Wenger’s Arsenal as ‘babies’
  • Both teams played fiery games including The Battle of Old Trafford

Rio Ferdinand has revealed the instructions Sir Alex Ferguson used to give his Manchester United teams before they faced Arsenal.

The two sides fought arguably the fiercest Premier League rivalry since Arsene Wenger entered the world of English football in 1996, continuing until Arsenal won the 2005 FA Cup final.

Games between the two sides have gone down in footballing folklore thanks to the fiery temperament with which each team played and Ferdinand gave an insight into Fergie’s pre-match squad talks.

Rio Ferdinand explains how Sir Alex Ferguson used to take Manchester United players to play Arsenal

Rio Ferdinand (L – pictured arguing with Francis Jeffers in 2003) has revealed what Sir Alex Ferguson was telling his United squad before games against Arsenal

Arsene Wenger (L) and Ferguson (R) often had heated arguments on the pitch

Arsene Wenger (L) and Ferguson (R) often had heated arguments on the pitch

Speaking on William Hill’s Stripped Podcast, the United legend said: “Sir Alex Ferguson used to say, ‘get in their faces. They don’t like it, they can’t deal with it. They’re babies.”

The United team seemed to heed those instructions dutifully as both teams looked to intimidate their opponents on the pitch, often leading to brawls and cards galore during matches.

Ferdinand also received personal instructions before matches from his manager.

Ferguson was saying, “Rio, you’re going to outrun them, you’re going to beat them.”

The Manchester United manager would then leave his team before they took the field, saying: “Stand up against them and you’ll win this game.”

Ferdinand (L) listens carefully to Sir Alex's instructions and clings to Lauren

Ferdinand (L) listens carefully to Sir Alex’s instructions and clings to Lauren

Manchester United didn’t always win the game when they faced Arsenal, but the battles on the pitch made for incredible spectacle.

The most famous game between the two sides was the Battle of Old Trafford in September 2003.

Six Arsenal players, two United players and Arsenal were then suspended following a late-on brawl.

However, something Ferguson could never have imagined before a game between the two sides was getting hit in the face by a pizza, as seen in the 2004 Battle of the Buffet.

Following brawls during the famous Old Trafford fight in 2003 where Arsenal were fined

Following brawls during the famous Old Trafford fight in 2003 where Arsenal were fined

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