Sir Alex Ferguson and chewing gum – name a more iconic duo. I’ll wait.
The legendary ex-Manchester United manager was frequently seen on a weekend afternoon, or during a mid-week European tie, frantically hammering down on some Wrigley’s Extra.
But why was the Scottish gaffer so infatuated with chewing gum and why was it only during matches that he would be seen with it in his mouth?
Well, according to Jim McGregor, United’s old physio, Ferguson had a nervous cough which got worse ahead of his first game in charge of the Red Devils all those years ago.
McGregor claims to have plucked up the courage, just over 25-years-ago, to finally speak to Ferguson and offer some advice.
“The coughing would start during the match,” McGregor explained in a recent book. “So after a time I plucked up the courage to suggest he should take some chewing gum.”
“What do I want f****** chewing gum for?” Ferguson reportedly fired back with.
“He also liked the odd spit,” McGregor added. “So I thought chewing gum would kill two birds with one stone. Eventually, he accepted some chewing gum and that became a tradition during future matches.
“He also ended our custom, started by his predecessor Big Ron (Atkinson), of allowing the coach driver Derek Sutton to sit with us in the dugout at away games.
“Sooty, as he was known, plonked himself on a dugout seat at Oxford’s Manor Ground to be met by a Fergie stare followed by, ‘Who the f*** are you?’
“Safe to say that was the last time Derek got anywhere near the dugout again.”