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Alex Ferguson : My Autobiography


A 'Turf' Life: On and off the feild
SAURABH KUMAR SHAHI | New Delhi, January 17, 2014 13:12
Tags : Alex Ferguson Hachette | Autobiography |

At the very beginning of this review, I need to give a disclosure. I am a member of Liverpool FC Fan Club for close to a decade now. A paid member at that. And thus, to review the autobiography of a rival club’s most celebrated manager is a double-edged sword. But I am still proceeding with this.

When one talks about great football managers in Britain, there aren’t many names that make the final cut. Rarer still are those who have lifted a team from the provincial backwaters to catapult it to the world football map. The greatest of them all is of course Liverpool FC’s most famous child, Bill Shankly. And that’s rather unanimous. Who comes next is a fair bit debatable.

Considering Sir Alex Ferguson also catapulted a largely provincial Manchester United to probably one of the greatest sports brand this world has ever witnessed; it would surprise the novices as to why is there some debate on Ferguson’s name. Not for the football fans and sports journalists though. And luckily, the answer has been provided by none other than the man himself.

As drab as it might sound, Alex Ferguson’s autobiography, curiously called, ya, you guessed it right, My Autobiography, is anything but that. As far as the name itself is concerned, the operative word here is not ‘Autobiography’ but ‘My’. In spite of all the contribution to the game of football that Sir Ferguson has rendered, it is his love for himself that defines his personality. For Sir Ferguson, it has always been about ‘me’, ‘my’ and ‘mine.’
But for the tremendous success that his club has achieved in all these years, Sir Ferguson would have been dismissed off as a “Control Freak” and a “First Rate Bastard.” Wonder what success has the potential to do. And that has what eventually influenced mine and others’ view of this book. Lucky for him.

When Sir Ferguson decided to retire not very long ago, there was no plan for this book. Had it been left to Sir Ferguson, he would have taken years to tell his story in a comprehensible manner. Thanks god for such things as ghost writers that life looks easier. This 350 pages saga has been ghost-written by top-of-his-game sports writer Paul Hayward. But sorry to say, this is probably his only substandard work that I have come across to date, and I have come across many. Admittedly, this is a rushed up job and it reads like one. One only wonders if Sir Ferguson will take the onus of this failure as he is so eager to take credit of everything good that has ever happened to anybody even remotely attached to him. But going by the way this book reads, I can safely say that he won’t.

In bits and pieces, the book does have interesting and worth reading parts. But all in all, this book reads like a hatchet job. A manual of settling-scores.

Considering his love for controlling things, it is not a surprise that Sir Ferguson had a tiff with a fair number of people and institutions during his career. Rafael Benítez, Arsène Wenger, Dennis Wise, David Beckham, Roy Keane; everyone you could have predicted is here getting is hard from Sir Ferguson. Liverpool’s Rafael Benítez has been dismissed as a “Control freak”; a tad rich that coming from Sir Ferguson. As many as 11 pages have been spent on his infamous tiff with Arsenal’s Arsène Wenger. Most of the writing is sanctimonious and self serving.

If you don’t feel sufficiently nauseating, then just wait for the chapter on Roy Keane. Sir Ferguson’s verbal assault on one of the best sportsmen of our time will rattle you to your core. The book presents a completely one-sided picture of what happened between Keane and Ferguson. He is only little more gracious on Beckham. Like others, he has also been given a short shift, but at least there is modicum of grace here. And what were their respective mistakes? If one believes Sir Ferguson, Beckham did the sacrilege of challenging his authority whereas Roy Keane was downright rascal.

Pretty little has been written about events that questions Sir Ferguson’s integrity, by the way. Take for example the infamous and heartbreaking sale of Manchester United to the American Glazer family in 2005. Sir Ferguson deemed it fit to dismiss the entire event in a little more than a paragraph. And even that was gracious on his part, for he dismissed the £100Million racehorse scandal in a single line as “Misunderstanding”. Yes, you read it right, just one line. Sir Ferguson has been rather selective about the truth. But then what can one expect from someone who is a friend to Tony Blair and the other members of New Labour.

The book is a letdown and so is Sir Ferguson. Indulge, only if you need to.

Author : Alex Ferguson
Publisher : Hachette
EDITION: Hardcover
ISBN:  978-0-340-91939-2
PAGES: 420
PRICE: Rs 1299

Author:  Alex Ferguson

Edition: Hardcover

ISBN: 978-0-340-91939-2

Pages: 420

Price: Rs. 1299

Publisher: Hachette

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017