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If You're Second You Are Nothing: Ferguson and Shankly Paperback – Unabridged, 3 Aug 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; 1 edition (3 Aug. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330443143
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330443142
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 0.9 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,616,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Holt's desire to tell the truth as he sees it make for a riveting
read.' -- Independent - Book of the Week --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Bill Shankly was one of ten children from an Ayrshire mining village. Alex Ferguson was a shipyard worker’s son who went on to become a toolmaker’s shop steward. Both of them enjoyed distinguished but not outstanding playing careers. Both of them raged against the might of the rich in their early managerial days, and both of course will be remembered as two of the mightiest figures in the history of the English game. There is a rich seam that links the epic lives of Shankly and Ferguson, running between their enemy football strongholds in Liverpool and Manchester. It goes deeper than the myriad achievements of both men - three league titles for Shankly, eight championships and a European Cup for Ferguson. What binds them is their long love affairs with football, which were so consuming that a tragic form of rejection was almost inevitable. Shankly felt betrayed by the club he had built from the ground up in the 1960s, and when he died from a heart attack in 1981 the deep rift between him and Liverpool had not been healed. Equally, with Malcolm Glazer’s takeover, Ferguson looks more and more like a man out of his time, a man whose once absolute authority over his players may be slipping. In this riveting dual biography Oliver Holt takes two of football’s undisputed greats and shows what made both men tick. In part a celebration of two driven, charismatic and hard-nosed characters, If You're Second You Are Nothing is also a poignant evocation of men not knowing how to let go of the game to which they have given so much.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bantam Dave TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 29 April 2008
Format: Paperback
As I write this Manchester United are on the brink of reaching the final of the European Champions League AND their second successive Premiership win. This doesn't suggest to me that Manchester United are on the decline but anyone reading this book, published less than two years ago, would assume that by now Manchester United would be floundering mid table, at best. Indeed at one stage Oliver Holt states that the transfer of David Beckham to Real Madrid was 'the beginning of the end'. The other 91 league clubs are still waiting...

The author, sportswriter Oliver Holt, obviously has a deep dislike of Alex Ferguson which he allows to completely spoil this book. Perhaps a clue as to why he dislikes Fergie so much is given in the final chapter, in which Holt writes about Fergusons lack of respect for football journalists, and his view that they do not have a clue about football.

In complete contrast it is clear that Holt regards the other subject of this joint biography, Bill Shankly, to be almost a saint and the chapters about him are very entertaining, although Shankly was such a character that it would be difficult to write anything about him that wasn't. Holt spoils these chapters too though by his odd chronology. Rather than start at the beginning of Shanklys football career and end with his premature retirement Holt chooses to do this in reverse - very strange.

Maybe the most damning sentence in this book appears near the end though -
'Cristiano Ronaldo was overpriced when Ferguson paid £12.6 million for him from Sporting Lisbon'.

Maybe Fergie as a point about football journalists.
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Format: Hardcover
Ah - where can you begin with this book. The idea of this book appealed to me - you contrast two managers who were larger than life and had seismic impacts on their clubs.

If only Mr Holt could have applied some semblance of balance with the chapters dealing with Ferguson. Instead this meanders into a love letter to Shankly and a bitter twisted ignorant diatribe against SAF, which is surprising from the main football writer for one of england's newspapers.

There have been books that show SAF darkside but which also give him the kudos he is undoubtedly due - such as Football Bloody Hell. Even the best ever book about United "Strange Kind of Glory" while praising Sir Matt Busby also holds up a mirror to his faults. It is this balance which Holts book lacks. It is infantile at best. If you want a good football read then go for "Inverting the Pyramid" by Jonathan Wilson, "Calcio" by John Foot, or "Futebol"by Alex Bellos - all well researched tomes to the beautiful game - I tip my cap to these writers and would never risk investing in one of Mr Holts literary works again. Fool me once....
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