‘I was a young Man Utd star when Sir Alex axed Beckham – it was a crazy time’

David Beckham's transfer to Real Madrid was arguably the most significant moment of the icon's professional career, but it was almost as poignant for some of those he left at Manchester United.

It's common knowledge Becks' deteriorated relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson – typified by the infamous 'boot-flinging incident' of February 2003 – led to a split that went down in Premier League history. And the drawn-out departure was felt by the rest of the dressing room, as told by one former star still gaining a footing in Ferguson's first team at the time.

Wes Brown exclusively told Ladbrokes Fanzone about Fergie's straight-talking methods and the example that was set by how he handled Beckham's departure. Seeing one of the club's 'best players' be shown the door after taking umbrage with the boss' methods sent a clear message to the rest of the squad.

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"My relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson depended on if I was in trouble or not," said Brown. "It was great though and ultimately you are there for a reason, you are there to win football matches. I came in as a local lad and learned a lot very young. Even the little things, I couldn’t do what my friends were doing.

"When I needed to be told something even if I didn’t like it, he would tell me, but also, he would praise me for playing good football. He was great in that sense to me. Everyone has heard stories from other players’ relationship with him but I got on great.

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"When he got rid of Becks, I was still a kid, and couldn’t believe he was getting rid of one of our best players. It was crazy. And for us younger players, it gave us the sense not to mess with the manager. But that’s the sort of manager he was, he always had a plan in place, he knows what he wants, and always had a plan up his sleeve. He did it to Jaap Stam as well. He didn’t always get it right, but he was brave enough to do it."

Ferguson later admitted his regret over selling Stam to Lazio on short notice in 2001, when he informed the player of his move in a famous petrol station meet-up. The build-up to Beckham's ejection was more drawn-out, meanwhile, and lasted for a number of months as the midfielder struggled with seeing his starting spot come under jeopardy.

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It was in February 2003 – after an FA Cup loss to Arsenal – that Fergie sent a boot flying across the United changing room and struck Becks over the eye. The player required stitches as a result, and it's widely believed their working relationship became somewhat untenable in the long term from there.

United went on to enjoy more sustained success under Ferguson, though it wasn't until four years after Beckham's exit that the club next lifted the Premier League title. And Brown was among those with a front-row seat during one of the most tumultuous periods of Fergie's reign – and all the 'crazy' that came with it.

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