Sir Alex Ferguson is still giving advice to his former players as they follow in his managerial footsteps.
Newcastle head coach Steve Bruce has revealed the Scot, under whom he enjoyed such success as a player at Manchester United, is only a phone call away when problems arise.
Two of Ferguson’s old boys will go head-to-head when Bruce’s Newcastle welcome Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United to St James’ Park on Sunday with both in need of a win, and his influence could well be at play.
Asked if he had spoken to him recently, the Magpies boss said: “I’ve spoken to him a couple of times. I always ring him for a bit of advice now and again. I saw him on Monday night at Old Trafford.
“He has been terrific, and not just for me. For any other manager, if there is ever a time you need a bit of advice, he is always there to help you.”
Asked what Ferguson had said to him on Monday evening, Bruce replied with a smile: “You don’t want to know.”
Bruce was part of the United team which famously won 1-0 at St James’ in March 1996 courtesy of Eric Cantona’s goal as they reeled in Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle to deny them a first league title since 1927.
Ferguson won 13 Premier League titles as he built a series of teams which also dominated in Europe, although the club has found the going tougher since his retirement in 2013.
Bruce said: “When you think of the dominance that Man United had….for the last four or five years, even though they have had great managers, following someone like Sir Alex has been difficult for them all.
“It just shows you what a wonderful job he did. But I wish Ole all the best, I really do.”
Bruce read the riot act to his team after last weekend’s 5-0 horror show at Leicester, although he insisted he has never reached Ferguson’s famed “hairdryer” level.
Indeed, he admitted that even dressing room post-mortems are now less heated than in the past.
He added: “Football has changed. Back in our day, there would be a fight every other week in the dressing room, especially in that Manchester United dressing room. The manager didn’t have to do it.
“It doesn’t happen in these days. You have got to move with the times. Gone are those days when another player would get hold of you – and that would be frequent.”
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Christian Pulisic needs to “work daily” to show he deserves to play regularly for Chelsea, manager Frank Lampard has said.
The United States international did not even make the bench for Wednesday’s Champions League match at Lille and has struggled to make his mark since moving to Stamford Bridge in the summer.
Pulisic’s £58 million transfer from Borussia Dortmund was agreed in January – when Lampard was not manager – but he has not played in the Premier League since August 31 and may not even be selected as a substitute for the Blues’ fixture at Southampton on Sunday.
After joining the club for a significant amount of money, more was expected of the American, who turned in an underwhelming display in his recent start against Grimsby in the Carabao Cup.
On Pulisic, Lampard said: “He’s level. I spoke to him two days before the Grimsby game and was very clear about the standards and we have to give him the fact he’s moved country and moved leagues.
“He’s as young as all the young players we keep talking about. He’s just turned 21, so I think, if anyone is getting too excited about this, they should calm down because he’s started five games for us.
“What he needs to do is work, work daily, work to show within the group that he deserves to play as all the players do, so that’s what the focus on everyone is.”
Pulisic was not the only high-profile player not involved at Lille, with Ross Barkley not in the 18.
And Lampard added: “This is one of my difficult problems in this job. I have good players and everyone has a story.
“Pulisic has a price tag, Barkley is an international player, Mason Mount is an international player, Callum Hudson-Odoi just signed a new contract, Bayern Munich wanted to buy him last summer and he’s an international player.
“Ruben Loftus-Cheek will come back and be an international player. I can’t pick them all. All I have to demand of them is that they show me in training and show me they are worthy of the place.
“It’s just my job. Next week you might be asking me about two other names. It’s the competition that we have.”
The return to fitness of Hudson-Odoi has further pushed Pulisic down the pecking order, although the England youngster was recently warned by Lampard.
After the 7-1 win over Grimsby, the Chelsea boss admitted the 21-year-old had areas where “he needs to learn” if he wants to become a regular.
Since then, Hudson-Odoi has been an impact substitute on two occasions for the Blues, setting up goals in the wins over Brighton and Lille.
“I’m really pleased and that has to continue. We can all focus on Pulisic from the other day but Callum’s the same and I have to speak in the real world when I speak to them and sometimes as a manager you want more,” Lampard said.
“You have to be honest and the players have to react and Callum has now come on with two assists in the games he’s come on and that’s what you want to keep pushing.”
Olivier Giroud is another who has struggled for game-time since Lampard took over at Stamford Bridge, but the Frenchman was praised by the ex-Derby boss.
Lampard added: “My relationship is really good with him. He’s a great professional, trains at a level everyday, great in the dressing room and in the game passes on experience.
“Everyone wants to play. I understand that and accept that. I was one of the worst. I hated not playing. I was terrible so on this side of the fence I get it, but all I want to see is positivity, how they are daily in the place and I’m seeing that.
“All good teams need a big squad in these modern days to try and be a successful team and it will need everyone pulling through the season in the same direction whether playing or not and, to be fair to Oli, he’s been fantastic and we’ll need him.”
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goals have been key to Arsenal in recent times – but head coach Unai Emery has also praised his influence off the pitch.
The Gabon striker has scored 49 goals in 74 Arsenal appearances since joining from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018.
He will be hoping to reach half a century in Sunday’s Premier League visit of Bournemouth to secure the victory that will keep the Gunners in the top four, having featured in all but one of Arsenal’s fixtures so far this season.
Aubameyang was named as Arsenal’s vice-captain after a blind vote by the squad and sported the armband for the first time in the recent win over Aston Villa – where he scored the winning goal with a late free-kick.
Beating the likes of David Luiz, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Hector Bellerin to the role may have surprised people outside of the club, but Emery revealed Aubameyang is a prominent member of his squad.
“He is an experienced player now,” he said of the 30-year-old.
“He played in France, Germany and now in England at a high level and with a high performance.
“His experience is good, his team-mates decided with the vote that they wanted him as vice-captain.
“I am usually speaking with him and now he is more confident and more mature in the Premier League compared to when I arrived last year, he came only six months before me.
“He scored a lot of goals last year but has now also taken a big responsibility within the team and he is one of the captains who can manage in the dressing room.
“I will speak with him in my office, the hotel or the dressing room. First we built a human connection and then as a player and then I know I can ask him what I want and what the team needs – he always listens and will always give his best to provide that.
“He will play all minutes, some minutes, all games if we ask that of him and he is always ready to play again – this is also showing his leadership qualities.”
Like any forward, goals are the main part of Aubameyang’s individual game but Emery pointed to the Villa win – where he allowed team-mate Nicolas Pepe to take a penalty for his first goal for the club – as a fine example of his approach.
“I told him when he decided against Aston Villa when we were losing to give the penalty to Pepe for his confidence, it was an amazing decision,” added Emery.
“It showed him as a big player with big responsibility in this team, a captain of this team. He gave that responsibility to Pepe and in that moment it was a great moment between two big players – a very good connection.
“In the the dressing room and in the matches, that connection with Pepe, also with (Alexandre) Lacazette, it means Aubameyang is important to make these positive connections.”