Sir Alex Ferguson Says Aston Villa’s Moneyball Transfer Policy Undermines Manager

Moneyball Doubt

A lot has been said (and possibly leaked) about the way Aston Villa did it’s transfer business in the summer. A couple of months ago on MOMS, we ran an article on the Moneyball direction to Villa’s summertime transfer activity. It’s an angle in the past week that the mainstream press has picked up on, questioning how much input Tim Sherwood had in the decision of the players that were brought in, with the players with Premier League experience he publicly wanted, noticeably absent from the squad.

Now, even ex-United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has name-checked Aston Villa as a Moneyball club and suggested he’s not a fan of the strategy.

The man Villa fans will remember for giving Alex McLeish a good reference to Villa, before Randy Lerner gave him the job, was in the USA doing a TV interview to publicise his new book LeadingFerguson gave his thoughts on the Moneyball approach to transfers, suggesting its main problem was that it undermined the manager of a club.

“There’s a lot of this Moneyball thing happening, Brentford, Brighton, Aston Villa, a lot of them are doing this thing and I’m not sure it’s the right way ahead,” said Ferguson.

“I think you have to trust in your manager, that he knows what he’s doing, or why give him the job in the first place?”

The TV anchor doing the interview was a big Liverpool fan and offered that Liverpool’s transfers by committee policy had ultimately undermined Brendan Rodgers’ job. The ex-Liverpool boss is actually four years younger than Tim Sherwood, although has several more seasons of football management experience.

“He is young Brendan, obviously,” replied Ferguson. “But he has enough knowledge to know what he needs for his team, the type of player he needs for his team. You have to trust him really and I had that trust at United.”

Mind Games

The interview later brought up the subject of manager ‘mind games’ which Ferguson also mentioned Villa in. After discussing Rafa Benitez’s infamous meltdown with him and United, Ferguson mentioned a Villa manager had got paranoid about his mind games prowess too.

“I remember phoning the manager of Aston Villa one Saturday morning before we played them. It was just a question about tickets or something. After about five minutes he phoned me back asking, ‘what were you really meaning?’

He thought I was up to something!”

I wonder which manager that was?


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  1. I suspect it was John Gregory. He seemed to react to everything Fergie said and I remember us pulling out of buying Robbie Keane because Fergie mentioned the deal in a speech and said he wouldn’t pay that much.

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