Legendary Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson,was nonetheless full of praise for his former charges – Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs – as he unveiled Salford’s new 5,000-capacity stadium on Thuesday, telling them he was proud of their efforts.
The three United legends, alongside Nicky Butt and Phil Neville, bought the club in 2014 alongside investor Peter Lim.
Sir Alex said he was not surprised by the move as he can ‘see why they want to give back to an area that has been a big part of their lives’.
However, he did joke that he thought his former players were ‘off their heads’ for wanting to buy a football club at first – but praised them on how far they’ve come.
“Right through your lives whatever you have achieved, and wanted to achieve, it’s been with great energy and belief in what you’re doing.
“I’m also delighted that my friend Peter has sponsored it. Peter has put a lot into the north west and brought a lot of employment here and I’m really delighted that you’ve done this, it’s fantastic.”
He then pulled the red covering off to unveil a special plague marking the occsion.
“Obviously we’d never win every game.
“We’d love to have, we’d tried to, but you know something they never did? They never gave in.
“You look at the last minute goals United scored, that wasn’t done because of their ability, that was because they never gave in, their character never let them down.
“They just bang, bang, banged the door and eventually it broke down.
“You know how many last minute goals we scored in my time? 166. The last fifteen minutes at United was 200.
“That wasn’t because of me, that was because of these lads [points to Neville, Giggs, Scholes], that was because of these players – they never gave in. It’s a quality too,” Ferguson said.
Giggs told the crowd of committee members, fans and players: “The announcement of the naming rights with Peninsula demonstrates the vision and the ambition that we have for this club.
“It is a huge day and we are all really proud of the drive and the steps forward we have taken over the last few years.
He said,”A special thank you to Sir Alex who I worked under for 25 years, to me he is just simply the boss and we are really thankful that he can open the new Peninsula Stadium today.”
The five former players have also announced plans to open a new university in nearby Trafford.
Neville took to the stage to talk about how far the club has come since he and Giggs first thought of buying a club.
He said: “We thought about starting an academy but we thought this would be no good without a first team and ambition as a club as we would end up being a babysitting service.
“It was quite a crazy idea to have a football club and it needed to be somewhere that is true to our roots.
“Salford has helped to shape us – whether we have played here, lived here or were born here. We learnt everything we know at The Cliff.”
Speaking of the new partnership he added: “When we came to look at naming rights we wanted it to be someone who had local roots and someone that was a great employer in the north west of England.