London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson released his latest autobiography at a press conference in front of 500 sports journalists at the Industry of Directors in London on October 22, 2013.As Ferguson’s successor, David Moyes, was preparing to send his inherited squad into battle with Real Sociedad in a Champions League qualifier, attention was deflected to the highly decorated retiree, a welcome relief for Moyes given United’s current form. Simply entitled My Autobiography, Ferguson used his new book as a chance to settle some scores and expose the secrets of his past, and in the process ruffled some feathers in the footballing world.
During his 26-year reign as manager of Manchester United, Ferguson won 13 league titles, five FA Cups and two Champions League trophies—among many other honors—making him the most successful manager of all time. The key to his success, as he revealed at the press conference, was to make sure that he was the key figure at the football club, saying: “The manager is the most important person at Manchester United.”
His strong grip and dominance at the club is what led to the breakdown of his close relationship with former United captain Roy Keane and several feuds with other stars, including David Beckham and, most recently, Wayne Rooney. Ferguson talked about how he had to let Keane go after the Irishman blasted his teammates in an interview on MUTV, and how David Beckham “changed” after he met Posh Spice, known now as Victoria Beckham. Ferguson also remarks on Rooney’s several requests to leave United and the England star’s fitness, saying how his stocky figure needs “working hard.”
The repercussions of Ferguson’s revelations in his book also attracted attention from the likes of former Manchester United goalkeeper Mark Bosnich, who reacted to scathing comments against him by telling Ferguson to “say it to my face.” Ferguson wrote that Bosnich was a “terrible professional” and ate excessively, leading to the ex-United goalkeeper requesting a face-to-face meeting with his former boss.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there were also some digs dealt out to Ferguson’s old enemies, Arsene Wenger, Rafael Benitez and Liverpool Football Club. The famous “Pizzagate” saga with Wenger gets a mention, of course, and Ferguson also takes the opportunity to say how he “felt sorry” for Arsenal manager Wenger when his team was the wrong side of an 8–2 hammering at Old Trafford in 2011. There was, however, some warmth shown towards Jose Mourinho in the book, although Ferguson mentions how terrible the wine was at Stamford Bridge—even mentioning it to Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who sent Ferguson a case of Tignanello.
Former Liverpool manager Benitez can’t have expected a kind mention in My Autobiography, which is just as well, since Ferguson speaks in celebratory fashion of how he won the series of mind games with his bitter rival. The autobiography has even forced comments out of current Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers. The Northern Irishman reacted to Ferguson’s comments by speaking highly of his captain, Steven Gerrard—who was a victim of Fergie-fueled acrimony—and accused Ferguson of trying to bring Liverpool down because he felt aggrieved chasing them for many years.
Rodgers also questioned why a manager would leak confidential conversations with his players from the dressing room. After leaving such a famous legacy at Manchester United, Ferguson has risked tarnishing his sterling reputation by revealing his innermost thoughts on numerous subjects.
As it stands in the Premier League, United—the current champions—sit eight points adrift of league leaders Arsenal, with David Moyes having a colossal job on his hands. When Moyes finds a quiet moment in among his busy schedule of trying to maintain Fergie’s legacy, he might find himself scanning through the book in desperate search of tips on how to keep the ship afloat at Old Trafford.