My Autobiography by Alex Ferguson, reviewed by Highland News Sports Editor, Paul Chalk
WITH Manchester United in what could be called a mini-crisis, now was time to delve into My Autobiography (Hodder & Stoughton, from £12.50 to £18.99 at different retailers) written by the master, Sir Alex Ferguson.
He retired earlier this year at the top after winning another Premiership title for the Old Trafford club.
Since the book's release two months ago, extensive coverage by the press has helped it sell more than 250,000 copies – and it’s easy to see why, even after dipping through a few chapters.
The fiery and proudly passionate Scot, considered by many as Britain’s best-ever football manager, retired after 27 years as United boss following his stunning success at Aberdeen where the north-east club became a European force.
United, now bossed by David Moyes, who was picked out by Sir Alex as his ideal replacement, are toiling in mid-table and looking unlikely even to finish in the top four or six come next May, which would be an incredible slide.
It was always going to take someone special to replace Sir Alex.
After all, for United alone he delivered two Champions League trophies, a European Cup Winners’ Cup, a European Super Cup, a stunning 13 Premiership titles, five FA Cups, four League Cups, 10 Charity/Community Shields, one Intercontinental Cup and one World Club Cup.
Reflections and Glasgow Roots sets the tone about the former Rangers and St Johnstone striker’s upbringing, delivered in a largely light-hearted fashion.
How the sport changed throughout his career was summed up when he said: “In my time in the dug-out I advanced from managing East Stirling players on £6 per week to selling Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid for £80million.”.
Portuguese star Ronaldo is one of a few players given their own chapter of importance and impact on Fergie.
Another, of course, was Roy Keane, a genius with a football, but with a temper that even Sir Alex in full “hairdryer treatment” mode struggled at times to contain.
He reveals why a TV attack on his United team-mates and the failure of the Irishman to apologise led to his swift departure from the club.
He also looks as David Beckham, who became more than a footballer.
Sir Alex says of him: “David was the only player I managed who chose to be famous, who made it his mission to be known outside the game”.
He also felt Becks believed that he “was bigger than Alex Ferguson”, but despite these, he raves about his qualities as a footballer and of his supreme fitness, matched by no-one at the famous club.
He also explains, in minor detail, the difficult ending of his time in charge of Wayne Rooney, who looked set for a summer exit, but is still at the club.
Few will be feeling the pain Moyes is feeling about United’s current inconsistent form more than Fergie, who discussed his last match day in charge early on in the book.
He described that moment in May when he gave an emotional speech to fans at Old Trafford and that puts the current struggles into sharp focus.
He recalled: “I urged the crowd to get behind the next manager, David Moyes. ‘I’d like to remind you that we’ve had bad times here’, I said over the PA. ‘The club stood by me. All my staff stood by me. The players stood by me. So your job now is to stand by our new manager. That is important.”
Perhaps he sensed these opening few months could be more than choppy for Moyes. United fans should remember these words.
Ferguson’s love-hate-love relationship with the media, the importance of his family and a reminder of his excellent scoring record as a player are all worthy reminders of just how compelling a figure Sir Alex has been.
Photographs of key career moments, including his times alongside former Scotland boss, the late great Jock Stein, will also stir emotions with many.
Manchester United will no doubt take some time to recover from not having the great man at the helm any longer. After reading this book, you can judge whether you think we will see his like again.
Quick review: My Autobiography will give you no-nonsense, straight from the lip deliveries about how Sir Alex reached the very top.