England’s opening opponents at the FIFA World Cup have been given a helping hand by proud Scotsman Sir Alex Ferguson, according to USA head coach Bob Bradley. Ferguson, who rejects all suggestions that he is anti-English, opened up the Carrington training complex to the 52-year-old American coach earlier this season.
Ferguson coached Scotland at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico following Jock Stein’s unexpected death and has rejected the Football Association’s advances on three occasions.
“I have had a number of really good opportunities to watch Manchester United train, to watch them play, and to spend some time with Sir Alex. He is inspirational – everything that goes on in that club, you can see his personality in it,” said Bradley.
“Some managers have been great in terms of being open. They know all about soccer in the US and know about our results. I have been lucky to get to particular clubs and I appreciate all of them.
“I saw there are different ways to be successful. When you spend time with the Premier League managers you appreciate the willingness to talk about the workings of the club.
“The times I have been at Man U you realise Sir Alex sets the tone in a down to earth way. Sit in the cafe and you see Giggs, Scholes, players from the reserves and you see their interaction and the way it should be done. It is a big club but there is a down to earth, realness, and grounded quality to it.
“I have done seminars with him and been to United on several occasion to see him. I will go down there and watch them train and spend an hour in his office talking. You pick up different things from someone like Sir Alex and it helps you in your own philosophy. He has such energy, if you have the chance to speak to him he is really bright and funny.
“He asked me if I knew Princeton University where I coached was founded by a Scot. You look on his bookshelf and see books about American presidents – you find a really interesting guy. When you have a chance to watch people like that and speak to them a little bit it is special.
“If you can built not only a system of playing and a professionalism, but also a family environment where everyone feels part of it, that’s huge. That is what I learned there.”
USA face England in Rustenburg on Saturday with a 7.30pm kick off, with former United stars Tim Howard and Jonathan Spector likely to start for the Americans and Wayne Rooney for England.