David Bellion and Alex Ferguson’s leadership style

David Bellion remembers positively his time with Manchester United, and Sir Alex Ferguson’s leadership style

The leadership story was covered in a BBC link sent me by Susan Moger (thanks, Susan).

He is remembered at Manchester United as one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s least successful buys, and at West Ham he was so unwanted he “felt like a ghost”. But it is clear from talking to Bordeaux striker David Bellion ahead of Wednesday’s crunch Champions League match [that he remembers his time in England positively].

Bellion remains an avid watcher of Premier League football but there are few in this country who have followed his progress since he left United.

One notable exception, however, is United manager Ferguson, who sent him a letter telling him to “keep going” during his time at Nice and who has since phoned the forward to offer similar encouragement.
“Those are the kind of things that make a great manager and maybe a great man,” enthused Bellion, who still refers to Ferguson as his “gaffer”.
“He is class – a gentleman. To some coaches, when you leave their club you are gone completely but he looks out for all the players who have been with him.
“For me, to receive that letter after a small spell at United was a great honour for me. It maybe means nothing to him but it means a lot for me – he had not forgotten me.”

More than a hair-drier

Furguson is sterotyped as a successful manager famous for a ‘hair-drier’ almost bullying style. His leadership stle is obviously more complex than that.

8 Responses to David Bellion and Alex Ferguson’s leadership style

  1. inseiffolliet says:

    Isn’t that interesting? The stereotype and the press implied style doesn’t actually match what appears to be delivered to a player who clearly wouldn’t have been at the top of the achievers list for Sir Awex. And yet Sir Awex’s persona as evidenced by his behaviour towards officials, the BBC and the press isn’t held in high regard. Similarly Arsene Wenger is being praised over the recent Gallas problem as dealing with the issue privately, protecting the player and tattempting to move on.

    Should we be taking lessons on leadership from Football Managers?

  2. Tudor says:

    I agree with your point. Yes there are lessons to be learned from Foorball managers.

    One of the core issues seems to be how the manager deals with what he judges to be a breach of loyalty to himself and the club. Most players accept it as a kind of ‘tough love’ (Giggs, Ince, and arguably Beckham come to mind). Wenger is also struggling to deal with the same sort of issue.

    Thanks for your comment.

  3. Sir Alex’s reputation is often blown out of all proportion. I think that the leadership lesson here is the importance of networks and relationships. Sir Alex is a fine example to all would be managers and leaders. My first “boss” back in 1985 had a similair apporach to Sir Alex. He was hard yet fair and took a real interest in all of his people. He worked diligently at developing people and accepted that there were times that people moved on. Breaches of loyalty were dealt with swiftly and were accepted. The first lesson he taught me as a newly appointed supervisor was that I had to catch my team members doing something good, twice every day.

    Thank you for compiling the leaders we deserve blog.


  4. Anthony Gell says:

    One of the most notable things for me about Sir Alex is the way he handles huge, and I mean huge, egos.

    He is absolutely clear that no individual player is ever bigger than the club. As a result even the celebrity players ultimately know their place.

    Sir Alex is fair, clear, and does genuinely want the best for his players, but everybody know’s that when push comes to shove there is ONE guy in charge. That’s good leadership. Yes we can learn a lot from him.

  5. rlisu says:

    Another thing that is overlooked when is comes to SAF is how he handles so many of the fringe players (not just the likes of Bellion who would never make it at OT). When Phil Neville, Nicky Butt, Mikel Silvestre, Gerrard Pique, Guisseppe Rossi all wantet more playing time SAF gave them their wish and let them go. Even as he knew that the likes of Rossi and Pique will become great players. He still gave them their wish.

  6. Tudor says:

    A regular watcher of MUTV used to tell me Paddy Crerand was Guisseppe Rossi’s No 1 fan as he shone week after week in the Reserves/academy sides.

    But I don’t think he went out of the kindness of AF’s heart any more than did ‘he whose name must not be mentioned’ who left for Real Madrid last year. More like pragmatism.

  7. rlisu says:

    Paddy did love Rossi, Paddy is a huge fan of a lot of United reserves and kids. His enthusiasm for United and football in general makes MUTV televized games and his show a lot of fun.
    And yes Rossi was great.
    It was pragmatism of course. But SAF, while being pragmatic does not stand in players’ way, unlike a few managers I can mention. He did not try to get a silly price for them just to tell them sorry, we couldn’t get a deal. Everyone in the organization, and fans, including SAF, knew Rossi was class, but he was not going to play in front of Rooney, Tevez, and Saha, so he let him go.

    Was the same with Ronaldo, in 2008 he made a deal with him, told him he can’t sell him yet because the team was not ready to play without him, but he promised he’ll let him go the next summer. And he did.

  8. Tudor says:

    Thanks for that. Paddy is a natural on TV because he doesn’t need to act out anything. He may be utterly biased, but I believe he means everything he says. (“That was never a penalty”). SAF is a much more complicated performer in front of the cameras…

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