Norwich City ace David Fox will show no sentiment against Manchester United
David Fox still counts a letter from Sir Alex Ferguson among his prized possessions – but will be hoping his former boss has an unhappy afternoon tomorrow.
The Norwich City midfielder spent five years with Manchester United without playing a first team game until, in January 2006, he decided it was time to move on and joined League One strugglers Blackpool.
Six years on, 28-year-old Fox is a Premier League regular with the Canaries and ready to take on the reigning champions at Carrow Road tomorrow (1.30pm).
But despite his lack of senior action at Old Trafford, Fox will always be grateful for the football education he received, and the good luck message sent by British football’s top manager when he left.
“I had six months left on my contract when I went in to see Sir Alex and I said I felt it was time I left, and he agreed,” said Fox.
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“My contract was nearly up and I would have left anyway. I spoke to Ren� Muelensteen, who was reserve team manager at the time, and said I just needed to go and play football. The writing was on the wall.
“It was just the best thing for me to go and try to make a career somewhere else. I went straight to Blackpool from there.
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“A few weeks later I got a letter through the post from Sir Alex thanking me for my attitude at the club, wishing me all the best in my career.
“It is a letter I’ve still got and I’m very proud that he took the time out to thank me for my efforts and wish me luck in the future.”
Fox the trainee discovered that Ferguson had his finger on the pulse with everything that happened at Old Trafford.
He recalled: “I had a couple of meetings with him when I was younger which, as a 15 or 16-year-old, was very daunting at the time.
“He had such an aura about him that when you saw him you tried to keep your head down and out of the way because you didn’t want him to have a go at you. He had such an influence over everyone at the club.
“He knew the youth team results on a Monday morning. He’d be asking you how your youth team game went. He knew how you had got on, who had scored and everything about the game. When the manager is like that - he was on the ball so much and knew everything that was going on - it is brilliant. And he is still doing it now.
“Being at United teaches you standards about your living and attitude and respect for everyone. It is the best place to be educated for not just football but life as well.”
Fox, however, has reached the Premier League the hard way. Promoted to the Championship with Blackpool in 2007, he returned to League One with a season at Colchester, before the move to Norwich in 2010 - Paul Lambert signing him for the second time - paved the way for promotion to the top flight last May.
He said: “When you leave a club like Manchester United the only way is down – even for the big players. When you sign for a club who are second bottom in League One, going back to the Premier League seems a million miles away.
“I remember speaking to the manager when I signed for Colchester and he was telling me about how to get back to the Premier League and, to be honest, at the time, I was a bit taken aback that he thought I could get back there. It is strange that just a couple of years ago I was in League One and now to be playing against United in the Premier League is unbelievable.”
Fox was in the City side beaten 2-0 at Old Trafford in October, when they might easily have taken at least a point.
He said: “We played really well up there. We had a game plan, we stuck to it and it nearly paid off. We tried to hit them on the counter-attack and punish them that way.
“But I’m sure being at home the onus is more on us. We can take some real positives out of that because we gave them a good game and I’m sure they won’t have forgotten it.”