SIR Alex Ferguson’s eagerly-awaited account of his life as Manchester United manager will be released today – and is likely to send a number of big names scampering for cover.
Around the same time as David Moyes is due to speak to the media to look ahead to United’s Champions League encounter with Real Sociedad, Ferguson will be in central London, enlightening his audience about the most decorated career the game has ever known. Ferguson has been keen to keep the contents secret.
There have been no official leaks and no serialisation ahead of five sell-out Q+A evenings, that start in Manchester next Monday and take in visits to London, his home city of Glasgow, Aberdeen, where he first made an impact, and Dublin. However, it promises to offer a read that is fascinating and explosive in equal measure.
“The problem with doing a book is you have to bring in the elements and factors which in many ways either affected or determined your management decision-making,” Ferguson told MUTV in a recent interview. “Because I’ve been at the club such a long time and you’re building team after team after team, there are areas that you can’t ignore. Why we sold certain players like David Beckham and Ruud van Nistelrooy. You can’t ignore these things because these guys were big, big figures in Manchester United’s career history.”
In an article on Saturday, journalist Paul Hayward, who was responsible for committing Ferguson’s words to print, stated: “Ferguson decided several years ago to revisit the upheavals of the past decade, and to examine how he maintained control in the face of changes in United’s ownership, the rise of player power and the new threats posed by Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea and the Middle-Eastern wealth of Manchester City.”
Hayward also said Ferguson “recalls the great players he has managed”, listing Roy Keane, Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham, and “shares his thoughts on Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho and Rafa Benitez”.
Ferguson rarely had a good word to say about former Liverpool and Chelsea boss Benitez. He once described the Spaniard as “a baby” and will doubtless find many reasons to undermine Benitez, currently at Napoli – not least the failed attempt to prise Gabriel Heinze out of Old Trafford.
That is just one of a number of reasons to anticipate the book getting a frosty reception at Anfield.
The fall-out from the racism row that ended with Luis Suarez getting an eight-match ban for abusing Patrice Evra should be covered, and that will not reflect well on Kenny Dalglish, with whom Ferguson had previous anyway.
It will be interesting to see whether Ferguson touches on Arsene Wenger’s failure to secure any silverware since Arsenal beat United in the 2005 FA Cup final, or the Pizzagate row of 2004. Asked about Ferguson’s book, Wenger joked: “We all fear the worst!” before adding: “I think it is good that he has made a book.”
The Scot always got on well with Jose Mourinho, but the issue of whether he was considered for the succession – in which the Chelsea boss claims he was never interested, but a recent book alleges he was in tears when he found out he had been passed over – might be touched upon.
Keane contributed so much to United’s success but what fans and an expectant public really want to know is the content of that infamous MUTV interview in 2005 which was pulled from the schedules because of the damning criticisms of so many young team-mates and eventually led to the Irishman’s abrupt exit.
Another cult hero, Ruud van Nistelrooy, departed amid some acrimony not long afterwards.
Then there is Beckham – scarred by a boot Ferguson sent flying across the Old Trafford dressing room – and his relationship and subsequent marriage to a member of the Spice Girls.
If Moyes were in any doubt as to his status, it will be reinforced on Wednesday, when Ferguson’s name, rather than his own, is plastered all over the back pages. He may be the current Manchester United manager but, for sheer weight of public interest, Ferguson remains king.