While Sir Alex Ferguson’s temper inside the Manchester United dressing room will forever go down as the stuff of legend, it is rare fans got to see the ‘Hairdryer’ treatment executed on the pitch.
However, that is exactly what happened to former Feyenoord boss Geert Meijer during a Champions League game back in November 1997.
A game in the Netherlands during the group stage of the competition threatened to pose one of the stiffest tests to United’s European dreams.
The De Kuip, Feyenoord’s electric home stadium, was practically at fever pitch when the Premier League champions rolled into town.
However, a hattrick from Andy Cole quickly silenced the home fans, but did little to quell the emotions of the home players on the pitch.
Future Manchester City player Paul Bosvelt left one on Denis Irwin to leave the Red Devils full-back writhing in pain and his concerned teammates desperate for retribution.
Referee Sandor Puhl failed to even distribute a yellow card for the cynical tackle, with United fans fearing one of their most reliable players could join captain Roy Keane on the sidelines after his infamous first run in with Alf-Inge Haaland of Leeds United.
Ferguson’s reaction on the sidelines was just pure vitriol as he sought retribution for the tackle and tried to remonstrate with the poor fourth official.
“A f****** disgrace,” the Scot offered to his counterpart, Meijer, in the dugout next to him.
As Bosvelt made his way to the tunnel, Ferguson managed to corner him and reportedly said: “You scumbag, you ratbag, you dirty b******.”
Despite his manager’s frustrations, Irwin held no grudges even though he was stretchered off and he even admitted to forgiving the midfielder on the night.
“The tackle was so unnecessary at the time as we were leading 3-0 and cruising to comfortable victory, but at least the lad was big enough to hold up his hand and apologise,” the Cork-born defender said.
The likes of David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo were not spared the infamous ‘hairdryer’ treatment from Fergie during their time at Old Trafford and fans finally got to see what it was all about on that night in Rotterdam.
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