Here are the lost heroes of the Fergie era… so WHY were they exiled?

Here are the lost heroes of the Sir Alex Ferguson era at Man United… so WHY were they exiled?

  • Sir Alex Ferguson’s era in charge of Manchester United brought huge success
  • Who were the figures behind the scenes making it tick, and why did they leave?
  • Do Man United have what it takes to exploit Liverpool’s defensive vulnerability? It’s All Kicking Off 

Sir Alex Ferguson’s time in charge of Manchester United brought unprecedented success. 

It’s hard to imagine their dominance given the club’s state now, but the club won 13 Premier League titles, two Champions Leagues, five FA Cups, and four Football League cups under his tutelage.

While they had superstars on the pitch, ones reared in the academy and imported from abroad, several figures behind the scenes were crucial in making things tick. 

Mail Sport looks at some of the behind-the-scenes heroes of Ferguson’s era in charge and explains why they left.  

Sir Alex Ferguson’s era at Manchester United had many influential figures behind the scenes

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David Gill, chief executive 

David Moyes, who was sacked after less than a season in charge by Ed Woodward, said he wished Gill had stayed a year longer rather than stepping down at the same time as Sir Alex Ferguson.

Gill was the quiet statesman with a personal touch. He earned Ferguson’s confidence yet could put all staff at ease. He is 6ft 5in, but it wasn’t unusual to see him raise a laugh by squeezing into a dodgem in the old West Stand car park during Christmas parties he laid on for staff. He would often leave his office to mix in the canteen, unlike other executives.

Gill went on to be a FIFA vice-president and remains a UEFA vice-president.

Chief executive David Gill, right, was a quiet statesman with a personal touch and earned Ferguson’s trust 

Les Kershaw, academy director 

A chemist who had the formula for developing young players. He was a close friend of Ferguson and along with academy co-ordinator Mike Glennie kept youngsters such as Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford away from rivals such as Liverpool. Many a player also owe thanks to coach Warren Joyce, who left in 2016. ‘The discipline, hard work and fitness are what they are missing since Warren left,’ said one staff member.

Jim Lawlor, chief scout 

His role was diluted after Louis van Gaal brought in Marcel Bout. Lawlor’s judgment was trusted by Ferguson as he understood what a United player should be. Didn’t get them all right but he suggested signing Henrik Larsson on loan in 2007, a move that saw the title race swing back from Chelsea to United’s favour.

Tony Strudwick, sports scientist

Head of fitness and conditioning Tony Strudwick, right, would remind players of ‘standards’

Phil Townsend, director of communications, was a close ally for Ferguson and Gill 

Ebullient sports scientist who was head of fitness and conditioning, Strudwick would greet colleagues brightly in the morning and along with coach Mike Phelan would shout to remind players of ‘standards’. He would keep order around the training ground but was sidelined under Van Gaal and would later join Ryan Giggs’ Wales set-up.

Phil Townsend, director of comms

He was not always a great help to the press but Townsend was a close ally for Ferguson and Gill and remains so now at UEFA.

Having worked in government, he was wise to the brewing politics at Old Trafford and kept harmony between the corporate and football departments up until 2018.

Albert Morgan, kit man

Kit man Albert Morgan stepped down when Ferguson retired and was a glue with the squad


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Morgan stepped down when Ferguson retired and was viewed as the ‘glue between the manager and the players’. Alec Wylie was a popular replacement, but had big shoes to fill.

‘It was like being a glorified baby-sitter,’ Morgan said. ‘Any dirt I’ve seen or heard will go to my grave with me.’

Mike Donnelly, club chef

Surly, acerbic club chef and United fan. Revered by senior players, he was never afraid to remind them of their shortcomings. He once cooked a prawn dish at the request of a young pro only for him to say ‘I don’t want it now’. Patrice Evra jumped to chef’s defence and made the youngster apologise. Retired after Rangnick era.

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