Ferguson recalls Man Utd players having to stop Beckham from coming at him

Sir Alex Ferguson's relationship with David Beckham was chequered to say the least.

On one hand Ferguson had one of England's most talented midfielders in his midst, but Beckham was always more than just a football player, and this didn't sit right with the legendary Manchester United boss.

Back in 2003 Beckham was attracting attention from Spanish giants Real Madrid.

Los Blancos wanted to make the England international their latest Galectico, which would boost both the club's and Beckham's profile.

Ferguson got wind of the rumours, and this, coupled with Beckham's apparent declining work rate in training, led to a confrontation after a Man United defeat in the FA Cup.

The intense argument, and a subsequent freak accident in which Beckham sustained a cut to his eye, ultimately resulted in the midfielder leaving for Real Madrid.

Writing in his autobiography, Ferguson recalled the incident, and explained how the Manchester United dressing room had to intervene at one point.

Ferguson wrote: "In his final season with us, we were aware that David's work rate was dropping and we had heard rumours of a flirtation between Real Madrid and David's camp.

"The main issue was that his application level had dropped from its traditionally stratospheric level. He was around 12 feet from me. Between us on the floor lay a row of boots. David swore. I moved towards him, and as I approached I kicked a boot.

"It hit him right above the eye. Of course he rose to have a go at me and the players stopped him. 'Sit down,' I said. 'You've let your team down. You can argue as much as you like.'

"The next day the story was in the press. In public an Alice band highlighted the damage inflicted by the boot. It was in those days that I told the board David had to go.

"My message would have been familiar to board members who knew me. The minute a Manchester United player thought he was bigger than the manager, he had to go.

"I used to say, 'The moment the manager loses his authority, you don't have a club. The players will be running it, and then you're in trouble.'"

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