“Of all the setbacks I endured, nothing compared to losing the league to City.”
The 2pm unveiling was greeted by journalists like the fall of the Berlin Wall, man landing on the moon and the JFK assassination all rolled into one. One small step backwards for Man United, but a giant leap forward for mankind. By 4pm I had read most of the book simply by scrolling through my Twitter feed. Journalist Mike Calvin commented at his surprise at the blanket coverage of a man who despised Calvin’s profession so much, not that the journalists had much option.
Alex Ferguson’s autobiography launch was always going to be big news, but it was notable for what it didn’t say as much as for what it did. Ferguson’s ire, strong opinions and ideology did not extend to dissecting the Glazer’s influence on the club, his fall out with the previous owners that led to the American takeover or his son’s role as an agent. He even forgot to mention his speeding ticket and bowel evacuation caused by a dicky stomach. If you’ve ever had a session on Holts bitter, you’ll understand his predicament.
But what of City? Unsurprisingly they don’t make much of an appearance until recently (page 293, to be precise). You see, nobody knew their name.
Even less surprisingly, Ferguson’s miserly myopic musings tend to bare little basis in fact or reality. His most laughable claim regarded the 6-1 victory at Old Trafford.
“We battered them for 40 minutes in that game. Absolutely battered them. We should have been three or four up. The referee allowed Micah Richards to boot lumps out of Ashley Young, overlooking five fouls in a row. At half-time we were really controlling the game. Then we had a man sent off just after the break. If you watch it again, Mario Balotelli pulls Jonny Evans first….”
“There was never a point where City looked a superior side to us.”
That is without doubt the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read, and I’ve seen excerpts from Harry Redknapp’s autobiography. The truth is, it should have been ten.
Or at least it WAS the most ridiculous thing I’ve read, and it kept that record for a good 5 days until Ferguson embarked on the first of his Q & A sessions at the Lowry as part of his SELL-OUT tour.
Ferguson, 71, said: “We had bad starts to the season many times. We are the only club in that league that can come from behind to win the league because of our history.”
Let that sink in for a moment.
As for the defining derby that put City top of the league prior to capturing the title, Ferguson comments: “If we had made it to half-time at 0-0 we would have won the game.”
Needless to say, Ferguson was undone by more dark arts from City. Apart from the fact that United couldn’t muster a proper shot that night, he blames a vicious tackle from De Jong on Welbeck for ruining his game-plan. No, really. An injury to Danny Welbeck apparently cost United the league.
Ferguson’s pitiful excuses don’t end there though. He continues: “Roberto Mancini was badgering the fourth official through the game…(I’m not making this up, honestly)….Roberto tried to dominate the fourth official and I had seen enough.”
Fergie, Sign Him Up
There was further drivel reserved for Carlos Tevez, who Ferguson considered an impact player, which is strange considering United paid £18m to loan him for two years and then announced on the that they had tried to sign him on a permanent deal, which would have made him the highest-paid player at the club. The club announcement still sits sullenly in the depths of the official site to this day. And they call us liars.
As for Mancini allowing Tevez to return post-strike, Ferguson commented: “Showed desperation…..as a manager, he let himself down.” He added that Mancini lost some prestige over the affair.
Thus says the man who welcomed back a player that karate-kicked a supporter, the man who was so desperate he dragged Paul Scholes out of retirement (that’s the Paul Scholes that once refused to play for United) and let Wayne Rooney hold his club to ransom. I doubt Mancini was too bothered about the loss of prestige when the title was won soon after. I’m guessing that helped his prestige a wee bit.
The Tevez poster obviously rankled with him, as was the intention, but if you have an approved banner in the ground counting the years since City won a trophy (and I don’t have a problem with that, it’s TOP BANTER), then you lose the moral high ground. The only surprise is he didn’t mention our 20,000 empty seats every week. Perhaps the Welcome to Manchester posters would have been more dignified if they had the club’s sponsors mentioned in the corner.
Knocked Off His Perch
Even from snippets it’s clear the book is full of contradictions. Ferguson doesn’t rate Gerrard as a top, top player yet once said he was the best midfielder that Liverpool had ever had (along with Souness) and commented in 2004 that he was the one player who could replace Roy Keane.
“He is physically and technically precocious. He’s got a good engine and remarkable energy. He reads the game and he passes quickly. I would hate to think Liverpool have someone as good as Roy Keane.”
“He has become the most influential player in England, bar none. More than Vieira. Not that Vieira lacks anything, but I think he does more for his team than Vieira does and has way more to his game. I’ve watched him quite a lot. Anyone would love to have him in their team.’
His words, not mine.
One Mirror reporter estimates that he tried to sign him on at least three occasions. He talks of the Newcastle job as the one that should excite any manager, a missed opportunity, yet last year called them a “wee club in the north-east”.
The snidest digs appear not to be towards City but Liverpool, his sparring with them well-documented in the past. To score extra points he lowers himself to criticising some of their current squad. As Daniel Taylor tweeted – imagine if another manager had done something similar with one of his players – how do you think he’d take that?
Thankfully Jon Snow was prepared to break ranks and question Ferguson about his past. “I don’t hold grudges,” stuttered the man who banned the BBC for seven years. Roy Keane also fired back, but taking sides over a Keane/Ferguson fall-out is akin to supporting Piers Morgan when he’s arguing with Alan Sugar.
The problem Ferguson now has is that the day he retired, his powers waned. He can’t ban Channel 4 now they’ve dared question his socialist ideals, unless he removes the channel off his TV at home. And a book deal means schmoozing the very people he’s shown utter disdain for over the years – to the point of disliking younger journalists for the casual way they often dressed.
Ferguson said he wrote the book for the fans, as they had a right to know what happened on various issues, apart of course most of the major issues that he completely avoided, and I think we can all agree that United fans were keen to have Ferguson dissect various Liverpool players, diss Owen Hargreaves or reveal secrets from the dressing room.
But Keane got one thing right. Alex Ferguson is not one to talk about loyalty when he releases a book that unsettles the club he managed for 27 years, timed to make maximum impact and income, and which naturally discusses and criticises many of the players that made him the success he is. A knight of the realm hawking his book round Stretford’s Tesco Extra? I’m not sure that Robbie Savage has got a point with that particular criticism, not that Ferguson cares what people think. He’ll make more money out of this book than he ever could from horse spunk. At least for us bitter blues there’s comfort in the knowledge that Aguero’s goal will haunt him forever, and whilst the book has positive things to say about the likes of Roberto Mancini and some of City’s squad, it’s hard to take a book seriously when at so many times the blinkers appear to be on.
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