Fergies Fledglings Hardcover – 19 Apr 2014
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About the Author
Wayne Barton is the football columnist for international sports broadcaster Setanta Sports. Travelling around England and North America, he has interviewed some of the biggest names in Manchester United's rich history including Harry Gregg, Tommy Docherty, Mike Duxbury, Mikael Silvestre, Alex Stepney, Lou Macari and Sammy McIlroy. He also worked with the late Brian Greenhoff on his 2012 autobiography and ghost wrote the 2014 autobiographies of Gordon Hill and Danny Higginbotham.
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The book looks at the most productive youth system in English football history from the first wave of youngsters to break into United's first team under ferguson, to members of the class of '92 and beyond.
These players were PROOF of what Ferguson was trying to do behind the scenes - trying to resurrect a famed youth system.
The interviews provide extremes in the how Ferguson is viewed by these players from gushing praise and appreciation bordering on paternal acceptance to abject disappointment and a clash of personalities with only one winner.
Chapters of note include:
Maiorana - check out interview with podcast @shootthedefence
Bojan Djordic -
Beardsmore - continued in the game even after injury. Not a sad story like some.
Tony Gill - had to retire from the game due to injury. Fergie rated him.
Alan Tonge - interesting insight into his belief that psychology will be the next big incremental factor that can affect players performance positively.
Fantastically researched and it is a book where the protagonists tell their own story.
There are plenty of great quotes:
Referring to the entity that is Manchester United Chris Casper says: "it's the pressure that comes from needing to perform for Manchester United......with respect to other clubs hey don't have united traditions and that's the difference. He culture is great but the tradition is something else......"
Djordjic on his legendary status on Championship Manager "I played that game myself and I was unbelievable. Without being big headed the researchers got it spot in because I really did have the talent"
Tonge on wanting to work with young players within the psychology of the game admits not working for United would be difficult: "though being United daft, I'm not quite sure I'd be as enthusiastic to do the same developing Liverpool or City youngsters"
Sobering thoughts on how Tony Gill's United career ended following an injury going into a tackle with Forests Brian Laws: "I knew the outcome of the tackle. I knew instantly it wasn't normal. The pain was different. I remember Bryan Robson holding my hand, Jim McGregor asking me questions and me not answering"
All United fans need to read the book. The history of the club is steeped in the youth system and this book gives personal accounts of what it was like to be at the club, be part of a system that was restored under a manager who became a knight and a legend. There are positive stories but also stories of personal tragedy. A thoroughly engrossing read and a real page turner. Some books are written through personal interest, others because of clamour and others purely for financial gain. This is a book of love. Author and researcher Wayne Barton deserves praise for the book he has produced and as a football fan and a United fan I would like to say thank you to him for a significant piece of writing that has increased my understanding of my club.
The Tony Gill chapter was particularly interesting. I was at the Nottingham Forest game in 1989 when Gill's career ended due to a terrible injury. Sadly Gill had disappeared from the world of football for a long time. The author deserves credit for getting Gill to do a very rare interview for this book. I particularly also really enjoyed the 2 chapters of my childhood heroes Jules Maiorana and Russell Beardsmore. The Maiorana chapter was a great one, especially, with his very honest views in a rare interview at the time, although since doing the book he has done more, which is good to see.
The Bojan Djordjic chapter is another very interesting one, like Maiorana, he gives very honest views. 3 of the Class of 92 FA Youth Cup winning side are interviewed for the book - Chris Casper, Ben Thornley and Kevin Pilkington. Also, the Phil Marsh chapter is another interesting one too.
I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to United fans and also non united fans too, especially those interested in Youth football.
Some players made it into the first team, some didn't; some went on to have decent careers in football, a few did not. All have an interesting story to tell - and it is refreshing to know that there is not a publicist or agent vetting everything that is said!
An excellent addition to the Manchester United library, but also an interesting insight into how youngsters dreaming of football glory deal with the inevitable disappointment for so many.