Alex Ferguson: Beckham thought he was bigger than me

Sir Alex Ferguson poses during a press conference for his autobiography. Picture: Getty
Sir Alex Ferguson poses during a press conference for his autobiography. Picture: Getty
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DAVID Beckham had to leave Manchester United because the former England captain thought he was “bigger than the manager”, Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed in his autobiography.

Sir Alex criticised the former England captain’s behaviour, claiming that he had become caught up in the celebrity lifestyle and believed himself to be a star in his own right.

“The minute a Manchester United player thought he was bigger than the manager, he had to go,” Sir Alex wrote in My Autobiography, which is published tomorrow.

“David is the only player I managed who chose to be famous. He thought he was bigger than Alex Ferguson. That was the death knell for him.”

The end came with an infamous incident in which a boot kicked by Sir Alex in the dressing room, following their FA Cup defeat by Arsenal in 2003, hit Beckham in the face.

This followed a row. Sir Alex wrote: “David swore. I moved towards him and as I approached, I kicked a boot. It hit him right above the eye.”

The player was left out of the following match against Real Madrid, by which point Sir Alex felt the midfielder was on his way out of the side. “We made the right decision to let him go to Real Madrid,” said Sir Alex. “We felt it was the right time. I had to think about my own control of the club.”

But during his press conference yesterday to publicise the book, Sir Alex also said that the seeds of Beckham’s downfall had already been sown when he met his future wife, then-Spice Girl Victoria.

Sir Alex said that “everything changed” for the footballer once he met the star and was drawn into the worlds of fashion and celebrity.

Sir Alex brought his career as Manchester United boss to a close in May this year, ending one of the most successful managerial reigns in British history.

During his 26 years in charge at Old Trafford, the team won 38 trophies and he managed some of the biggest names in football.

During his press conference Sir Alex also took the opportunity to deny a claim previously made by Tony Blair that the former football manager advised the then-prime minister to sack Gordon Brown.

Mr Blair had previously written in his memoirs that he sought advice from Sir Alex . He had asked him what he would do “if you had a really difficult but brilliant player causing you problems”. “Get rid of them,” Sir Alex told him.

But Sir Alex has now offered a slightly different version of events. He wrote: “My recollection is that Tony wasn’t specific about Gordon. His question was about superstars and how I dealt with them. My answer was, ‘The most important thing in my job is control. The minute they threaten your control, you have to get rid of them’.”

Elsewhere, Sir Alex said his “political convictions have remained largely unchanged from my time as a shop steward in the shipyards of Govan”, and he describes himself as a supporter of the Labour Party.

“You wouldn’t see me sitting beside David Cameron, would you?” he writes. “You would see me alongside a Labour MP. That would be my impact.”

A closer look: Richard Moore delves into Fergie’s book