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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 November 2006, 19:32 GMT
The man who set Fergie on his way
By Paul Fletcher

John Sivebaek
It is nice to be in the history books - scoring the first goal for a new manager

John Sivebaek
Former Denmark international John Sivebaek scored the first Manchester United goal of Sir Alex Ferguson's reign.

United had played 213 minutes under Ferguson without a goal when Sivebaek struck with a free-kick.

It was 22 November, 1986 - and Sivebaek's first-half strike proved enough to seal a 1-0 win over QPR.

"The manager was delighted afterwards," Sivebaek told BBC Sport.

"It is always nice to be in the history books and to score the first goal for a new manager - one that wins the game - was great."

The goal turned out to be the only one of Sivebaek's United career as he was sold to French side St Etienne in the summer of 1987 after making 31 appearances for the Old Trafford side.

Sivebaek had been signed by former manager Ron Atkinson but recalls that from the moment Ferguson arrived it was obvious things would be done differently.

"He knew exactly what he wanted to do," added Sivebaek, who is now an agent representing the likes of Celtic midfielder Thomas Gravesen.

"He had his system, the way he wanted to train, we could just feel that he knew what he wanted.

"Yet he could not change the whole team. He had to build slowly, get to know the players before he worked out who he wanted to stay and who he wanted to leave."

United finished the 1986-87 season in 11th place, 30 points behind champions Everton, and Ferguson spent the summer strengthening his squad, with defender Viv Anderson among his signings.

Sir Alex Ferguson
He was very honest with me and that is what you really respect as a player

John Sivebaek on Sir Alex Ferguson

Ferguson wanted Sivebaek to stay but made it clear he could no longer guarantee the Dane first-team football.

Sivebaek knew he needed to play regularly to keep his place in the national side and made the move to France.

But he had seen enough in his few months as a player under Ferguson to assess the qualities that have kept the Scot in business at Old Trafford for 20 years.

"He is very good at getting the best out of players," said Sivebaek.

"He was very honest with me and I appreciated that. Honesty is what you really respect as a player.

"And one of the best things about him was that if you lost he could be angry but the day after you could speak to him and he explained why and told you what he wanted. That is fantastic for a player."

Sivebaek's decision to leave was probably the right one as he went on to win 87 caps and was a member of the Danish team that won the 1992 European Championships.

And although Ferguson has never said anything to Sivebaek about the goal that set him on his way at United, the Scot has always stayed on good terms with the Dane.

Ferguson sought out Sivebaek when he visited the Denmark team hotel in 1992 and the Dane has made several trips to see United's training facilities.

"Even after I left he has always been very nice to me," said the former defender. "I think we have a very good relationship."



SEE ALSO
Gary Pallister on Ferguson
04 Nov 06 |  Man Utd
Sir Bobby Charlton on Ferguson
04 Nov 06 |  Man Utd
Roxburgh on friend Ferguson
04 Nov 06 |  Man Utd
Ferguson's career in photos
04 Nov 06 |  Man Utd
How Robins saved Ferguson's job
04 Nov 06 |  Man Utd
Ferguson's human side revealed
04 Nov 06 |  Man Utd


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