Arguably the most successful, and controversial club manager in British football history, Sir Alex Ferguson has also been a prolific chronicler of his own life--seven autobiographies to date--but journalist, author (and United fan) Michael Crick claims now to have written the first serious, critical biography of The Boss
. Crick, award-winning journalist, and biographer of Michael Heseltine
and Jeffrey Archer
, attempts to bring the same sort of structured research-based approach to this study of Ferguson--tracing his life from a Govan childhood, his ultimately frustrated playing career, through his first steps in management, to the trophy-harvesting Aberdeen and Manchester United sides that established his place in the pantheon. To this end, there is a page-by-page list of reference sources (including Fergie's own books), and a demonstrable intention to analyse and assess the veracity of various established "facts" about the Manchester United manager's extraordinary life and career. At times this reads like nit-picking, but what this book reinforces is that Ferguson has been and is a practised and remorseless operator in the public arena--whether it is ham-stringing opponents with his infamous "mind games", gagging the media, peddling his own "official" version of history, or establishing the strict paternalism that is the foundation of the Fergie approach to squeezing performances out of players.
Alex McLeish [then playing for Ferguson at Aberdeen], for instance, says that when his father died unexpectedly in his early forties Ferguson stepped in and "assured me that he would take my Dad's place as much as he could in keeping me up to scratch".
The chronicling of Ferguson's relationships with such key players"lost boys" like McLeish, Cantona, Ince, Keane, plus the legion of stars that emerged wide-eyed from under Fergie's wing and the Old Trafford schoolboy squad--is a particularly interesting theme.
Not surprisingly, given Ferguson's and Manchester United's notorious media wariness, there is little fresh material from centre-stage, but a widespread of new interviews with some of the supporting-cast in this extraordinary drama are well used, as is material from contemporary media reports, and books, including Ferguson's, that have long since drifted out of print. The result is a rounded study that nevertheless debunks elements of the Ferguson myth. Immensely readable, not least because the ambition of the man in question drives the narrative along at a tremendous gallop, The Boss is a very welcome addition to the Fergie library.--Alex Hankin
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'A fascinating story, and though there are plenty of warts, it is all the better for that.' --The Sunday Times
'Magisterial... And no Crick biography would be complete without the explosive revelations.' --Sunday Telegraph
'Crick's cracking tale gets under Ferguson's skin... If you have space for one book in the suitcase this summer, make sure it is this one.' --The Times