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Nov 18, 2010

Fergie: Modern players are 'fragile human beings'

Sir Alex Ferguson believes the football world has changed beyond recognition since he first took over as Manchester United boss, and claimed that modern players, who "need to be seen with their tattoos and earrings", are "more fragile human beings".

• Fergie: I'm still too young to retire
• Utd preparing for Fergie retirement
• Fergie to run rule over Rooney

Ferguson celebrated 24 years in the Old Trafford hotseat earlier this month and has built a reputation as one of the most successful managers in the game with United, winning 35 trophies with the club.

Having seen all manner of personalities come and go during his United tenure, Ferguson feels that he has had to adapt to the demands of working with the modern player.

That has included less frequent use of his infamous 'hairdryer' treatment, though the Scottish boss admitted he still loses his temper from time to time.

"I've mellowed a great deal," Ferguson said at the inaugural Aspire4Sport conference in Qatar. "The world has changed and so have players' attitudes. I'm dealing with more fragile human beings than I used to be.

"They are cocooned by modern parents, agents - even their own image at times. They need to be seen with their tattoos and earrings. It's a different world for me so I have had to adapt.

"There is nothing wrong with losing your temper if it's for the right reasons. But I never leave it until the next day. I don't believe in that.''

Ferguson also spoke about Wayne Rooney, claiming the United striker realised he had made a major mistake when he felt the backlash against his plans to leave Old Trafford.

Rooney stated last month that he would not sign a new contract with United, after failing to receive assurances over squad-strengthening.

But two days later he agreed a five-year stay, with Ferguson glad the England striker realised he had been hasty in going public over his concerns, which were met by an angry response from many supporters.

Ferguson believes the advice Rooney received was not in the 25-year-old's best interests.

"You don't necessarily have to heed advice after listening to it,'' Ferguson said. "Some young people take bad advice. He has an agent who is not the most popular man in the world and he obviously sold it to Wayne to ask away. The boy rushed in.

"But the minute he heard the response of the public and our supporters, he changed his mind. He knew he'd made a mistake. There's nothing wrong with that as long as you recognise it. He immediately apologised and agreed a new contract within a couple of hours.''

Ferguson is now hoping to see Rooney rediscover prime form, after struggling for goals this year. Rooney has been at Nike's plush headquarters in Beaverton, on the west coast of the United States, for a week of conditioning work.

"We want to get Wayne back to his best,'' Ferguson said. "He's had a good week in the States and we've got him to the point where we want him to be in terms of accelerating his fitness.''

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