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3.5 out of 5 stars29
3.5 out of 5 stars
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on 4 November 2010
This is a terrible book from start to finish. Why is it so bad ? It contains many spelling mistakes, many inaccuracies and huge inconsistencies. Mostly the language is tabloid speak and full of the most awful cliche and turn of pharase 'Ferguson has been casting his net wide in the transfer market', 'David Elleray, a leading whistler...' It was an exercise in restraint not to throw it out the window at every page turn. I can pick hundreds of mistakes throughout the book that annoyed me, irked me and generally made me feel that I was reading the latest Kerry Katona opus. For instance, Page 344 of the hardback edition (yes, I wasted that amount of money on this) cites that 'In 2008 he [Ferguson] was to use the fifth anniversary of the Munich disaster to motivate his players'.
However, the biggest sin that Barclay commits is not that he didn't bother to employ a proofreader or that he failed to double check simple facts on when players were bought or sold but that he created a book based upon an amalgamation of the various autobiographies on his bookshelf. There seems to be no new work done here at all and newspaper articles and players quotes are printed verbatim within insight or criticism. Honestly, avoid this lazy, tabloid rubbish at all costs, it really is only for the Manchester United supporter who didn't know Alex Ferguson was also once the manager of Aberdeen and honestly thinks 2008 was the fifth anniversary of the Munich disaster. Mr Barclay you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself.
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on 10 September 2012
It isn't the easiest of books to read. The chronology on the face of it is straight forward but in truth the author jumps around, leaping on an anecdote whenever it takes his fancy. This often leads to stories and relevant moments in Ferguson's career being repeated - some times ad nauseum. I'm reserving call this a 'hatchet job', because it isn't. However it is clear that while the motives and reasoning behind much of what Ferguson did is questioned and speculated to the nth degree, the motivation and reasoning behind many of those who have gone up against him over the years is not questioned.

Negative aspects and insinuations are dwelled upon although, probably for legal reasons, never is a single defensible accusation ever really made. Such as making sure Ferguson's name is tied closely. Such as the insinuation that Rune Hauge and Manchester United had a relationship that suspicion could be raised about. He also implies George Graham was simply unfortunate during his dealings with Hauge to have been cause, implying in a way in which the context of the project could leave little doubt about.

It's saving grace is its subject . One of the most interesting, colourful and controversial men in football. However this book does seek to exploit the latter attribute perhaps a tad more than would make it readable.
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on 25 September 2011
This is a well researched book but the writer clearly does not like Sir Alex Ferguson. I usually don't write book reviews but Mr. Barkley's persistent attempts' to belittle Alex Ferguson's achievements' just got under my skin a little.
I don't think anyone would really enjoy this book, United fan or not. United fans would find it a bit insulting and none United fans would find it disappointing that someone would go through all the trouble to list Alex Fergusons' endless achievements' and then try to chip away at them with little success.
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Oh dear, I read the previous reviews and kind of know the unhelpful votes will pour in. But so what, I am still going to try to provide an objective view of the book and if you chose to vote unhelpful because you have issues with either Fergie or United, then vote away.

Patrick Barclay is a respected sports journalist and he writes well. This is a biography of Alex Ferguson taking us from his youth through to 2010 - published just about the time of the recent Rooney crisis which actually helps you understand the handling of Rooney. This tries to be objective and highlights Fergie's faults and mistakes while also mentioning his fantastic record and a perceptive view of the man himself and what makes him tick.

I would have gone four stars had this been the first biography of Fergie I had read, but much is a repeat (although from a different perspective) of Fergies own autobiography although updated to cover the last 8 years or so. But while the perspective was different, I wasn't learning much that was new.

The books highlights are in the latter years, Fergie's Rock of Gibralter issues, the takeover and of course that focus on what makes the man tick and be such a winner. It's weakness was the lack of freshness and a failure to focus on key elements such as his views on Victoria Beckham - they hardly get a mention yet were instrumental in his relationship with Beckham.

Recommended if you have never read a Fergie biography but if you have, you may find too much in here you already knew.
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on 20 December 2010
Just finished the book and totally loved it. the research done is second to none and gave a real insight into a subject matter well trodden before..have bought two copies more as gifts as even the most hardened footie fans will find out new and interesting facts through this along with it being a brilliantly written book...
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on 30 January 2011
This book was bought for me as a christmas present, I purposefully didn't buy it myself since I was under the impression it would be a hatchet job from Barclay. Upon reading it you begin to see that it isn't a hatchet job and is in fact quite an objectively written book. It's difficult to read at times due to his over-use of commas which cater for his need to go off an a tangent several subjects away from his original point but there is a fair amount of commentary which describes events in reasonable detail.

However, I seriously wouldn't recommend it to anyone who wants to get to know Ferguson better, his own autobiography has a far better insight to his time before United though it only covers up to 1999. It seems as if he's only interviewed a handful of people to provide a better picture of Ferguson, and one of them was Thierry Henry (it's questionable as to how qualified he is to talk about what happened at Old Trafford).

Beyond that do we really need to have an account of what's happened in the world of Fergie in the last ten to twelve years? There are no new insights into what REALLY happened such as the departures of Keane, Beckham, Van Nistelrooy, Ronaldo, the takeover, the decision to postpone retirement etc. There are even alot of inaccuracies from recent times and alot of it doesn't focus on Fergie, instead focusing on descriptive stuff about United in general.

The best independent book about Fergie on the market right now is Daniel Taylor's 'This is the One' and if you really have to be told about what has happened at United in the last ten years then I would recommend 'Manchester United: The biography' by Jim White. Barclay's book is only for those who want a lazy skim through Fergie's career safe in the knowledge that it's written by someone they've seen on the Sunday Supplement, therefore they must know what they're talking about.
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on 30 November 2010
Totally agree with jimmypj about Football - Bloody Hell! Five stars. It's one of those books where you get to see the subject - in this case Sir Alex - in a new light. Brilliantly written. I notice the press rate it highly too. Think some of the early reviewers on amazon must have read a different book!
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on 19 November 2010
Football - Bloody hell! The Biography of Alex Ferguson, 2010, Patrick Barclay. A curiously lightweight and slightly flat account of the authors experiences with Fergie and other familiar charachters (former players and colleagues), even of limited use as a work of reference. While it follows the timeline from his playing experiences at Rangers to last season (2009-10) it skips about trying to capture the dominant forces that have shaped the man and concludes it was all family and loyalty. Very little was new (though I have a read a lot about the man recently so I am perhaps not the best judge). Some interesting stuff around attitudes to corporate buy outs and ties to New Labour. No doubt a new version will emerge once he retires.
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on 28 October 2010
Having read Patrick's book on Jose Mourinho i was looking forward to reading this but oh! dear, my main gripe with it, is theres far too many references from other books that are readily available (fergie's own autobiography and Michael Cricks the boss) are two that immediately come to mind so the writing comes over as lazy, if you want a good book about sir Alex then read his autobiography, or wait until he finally calls it a day and gets around to writing a new one.
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on 23 February 2011
I'm a huge fan of both Manchester United and Alex Ferguson; and also an admirer of the writing of Patrick Barclay. So I fell on this book hungry for insight and information, and confident of a rollicking good read.

But I had forgotten The Curse of The Football Book. The Curse is a simple one: if the writer stares at the mesmeric rhythm of the football season, and it's regular beat of matches home and away, ventures to Europe, and the road to Wembley, he will be blighted by the Curse and lose all sense of literary narrative. He will instead plod from one season to the next in a predictable tumble of football trivia, and trample all over whatever true story might have existed.

And sure enough Barclay has been stricken. This book is like a word association game, in which every attempt at a story is constantly interrupted by the need to report each fixture, its result, and the players involved. To give but one of dozens of examples, Barclay threatens to provide some insight into the whole Rock of Gibralter racehorse affair, but then, mid sentence, up pops a 5th round League Cup game, which had a winner from Forlan, who is Argentinian, like Veron, and speaking of Cups, United lost to Arsenal, in the FA Cup, oh and Ferguson was so cross he kicked a boot at Beckham. And all that in the space of less than a page.

If one knows nothing of Ferguson, then despite the Curse, one will find a solid primer here. But it reads more like a text book than a piece of genuine research: Barclay openly and admiringly quotes from other biographies, and, despite the considerable time he has spent in Ferguson's company offers precious little that is new.

To his credit however, the one spell Barclay hasn't fallen under is Ferguson's. The best pages of the book are two that come right near the end, in which Barclay tries to assess where Ferguson stands in the pantheon. His conclusion? That Ferguson is no genius, just very good. Barclay's arguments are compelling - even to a Fergie fan like me. Perhaps if he had turned those two pages into a proper thesis, without feeling the need to recite every football result of his subject's reign, this book too might have been, if not genius, then at least very good.
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