Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that he once made the mistake of asking about the transfer status of Paolo Maldini.
Speaking to the Corriere dello Sport during a visit to Rome, Ferguson was questioned about which Italian player he would have liked to have signed for the Old Trafford outfit.
"I once asked Maldini's father Cesare about him," the manager noted.
"He looked at me as if I was a madman and that response was enough to understand that the answer would be no.
"I also loved Gianfranco Zola a lot. He always played with a smile and with the right sporting spirit."
Being in the Eternal City, Ferguson was inevitably asked for his thoughts on Francesco Totti given his difficulties so far this term.
"Totti is the symbol of Roma, he'd never want to leave the club just like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes at United," Ferguson added.
"Totti needs to be kept at a certain level for Roma, just as I do at United. I may not let Giggs play every week but he's always there. It could be the same for Totti."
Turning to tactics, Ferguson hailed the work of Arrigo Sacchi in the late 80s for changing the face of the Italian game with his 4-4-2.
"Sacchi changed Italian football. He got rid of Catenaccio by proposing a high pressing game, with a Maldini who pushed forward on the flank.
"It was a change of mentality and it was the same for Fabio Capello's sides.
"The Italian mentality was to attack with caution. Then all of a sudden there was no Catenaccio, but a four-man defence, with a side that attacked rather than waited to counter-attack.
"It was a great change."
The Scot was also asked for his thoughts on Napoli's chances in the Champions League after being paired with Bayern Munich, Villarreal and Manchester City.
"Napoli are in the most difficult group, the group of death," he noted. "If they can get through that group then they can do anything.
"When there is a draw you hope to avoid long trips, to avoid Turkish and Ukrainian sides because those far away games are a problem. The other thing is to pick up 10 points."
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