When considering the public face of Sir Alex Ferguson--the unsmiling, world-beating football manager who has taken just about all the honours the British game has to offer--it is difficult to imagine that he grew up as the son of a ship builder on the banks of the Clyde in Glasgow. Yet Ferguson's story is much the same as many others who have made it to the top in the sport: a boy with talent who rose above the expectations of his working-class background to become a household name throughout the world.
Such is the power of football; but more relevantly, such is the power of raw talent, pure determination and a bit of good luck. In Managing My Life Ferguson tells the story of just how he developed from a football-mad youngster to the first British manager to win the FA Cup, the Premiership and the European Cup in one season; but whereas others with a similar experience romanticise their tough upbringing and eulogise it from the comfortable position success affords them, with Ferguson there is the feeling that the tough, uncompromising way he runs his team is a direct product of values instilled in childhood that he still holds close.
I grew up accepting that shipbuilding was part of the fabric of my existence. In a community that relies heavily on a single industry, there is an intensity of shared experience that draws people together and tends to make them appreciate the need to support one another. It has been said that the values great managers like Jock Stein, Sir Matt Busby, Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley brought to their jobs in football were rooted in their mining background. I have no doubt it is true and I am sure, too, that any success I have had in handling men, and especially in creating a culture of loyalty and commitment in teams I have managed, owes much to my upbringing among the workingmen of Clydesdale.
Opening the book with a word on his recent Treble success (after all, who could be expected to wait until the end of this extraordinary story for all the gory details?), Ferguson soon reveals the big secret of his success--family support. The constants throughout his life have been close friend and family relationships and an absolute passion for winning, and both are constantly recurring themes throughout the book. Candid, thoughtful and passionate, this is certainly a story no Ferguson lover can miss. But, more importantly, it is one those who hate him should be made to read--if you thought the dour face and frequent complaints to the referee were his whole character, you are sorely mistaken; they are symptoms of his never-ending quest for perfection.--Lucie NaylorThis text refers to the hardcover edition of this title.
The best football autobiography I have ever read (The Sunday Times
The richest and most enthralling story in post-war British sport (Independent
Danielle Steele meets Geoffrey Archer, with a Booker Prize quality injected by Hugh McIlvanney (Independent on Sunday
A treat (Sunday Express
Ferguson emerges from this account as a genuine national hero, one of the great Scots of the 20th century (Mail on Sunday
Provocative, stimulating, emotional and honest (The Herald