Ask any soccer fan in the world who Sir Alex Ferguson is and they could tell you. The former Manchester United manager’s name is one of the most notable names in the world’s most popular sport. His success during his illustrious career made him an inspiration to many all around the world, including Sacramento Republic FC Head Coach and Technical Director, Paul Buckle.
Buckle recently met with Ferguson in New York, an experience he described as “an absolute honor.” In addition to simply meeting him, Buckle had a chance to sit down and have a chat with the world renowned manager.
“It was fascinating, one, to meet him in person and two, to spend so much time with him and to pick his brains on management,” Buckle said about the experience. The two men spoke about leadership and how to tackle the everyday challenges of coaching.
Ferguson also imparted some more specific wisdom to the Republic FC coach, including the mentality he took into training while at Manchester United. “He said to me that every day’s training should be like a cup final,” said Buckle. “That’s how he used to convey it to the players and the coaching staff at Manchester United… And that’s how it should be for a top professional.”
Buckle wasted no time in trying to pass that wisdom on to the players that took part in the first round of Republic FC’s open tryouts. “I tried to put that into these lads today,” he said during the first day of tryouts. “You must train like you’re going to play.”
Another nugget of wisdom that Ferguson passed on concerned winning, something that he has extensive experience with, as the 38 trophies he collected during his time at Manchester United clearly show. “He would only probably enjoy a win or winning a trophy for about 30 minutes,” said Buckle. “Then that was it and it was time to move on.”
While the meeting in New York may have been the first substantial conversation between the two men, it was not their first meeting. Back in 2005 Buckle was an assistant coach with Exeter City – a non-league team at the time – when they faced off against Ferguson’s Manchester United in the FA Cup. Buckle and Exeter City were able earn a draw at Old Trafford but fell 2-0 in the replay at their own home field. “He played a lot of the first teamers so we were in trouble in the second one,” Buckle reminisced.
As part of their offseason plans with Republic FC, this week Buckle and Director of Football Graham Smith will be traveling across the pond to the United Kingdom to visit a multitude of clubs and coaches. One highlight of the trip will be yet another meeting with Ferguson, this time at his home, something that Buckle is really looking forward to.
“When you get the opportunity to meet this type of person… you can’t turn it down,” he said. “It’ll be a fantastic moment for us and for our football club.”
Buckle and Smith are currently in the United Kingdom as part of a 13-day scouting and development trip. The trip includes visits to numerous Premier League clubs, including Crystal Palace, Liverpool and Southampton. They will once again meet with Ferguson to further collaborate and discuss best practices in training and player development.