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on 29 October 2013
Ferguson. Unless you've been living under a rock for the last week it you could be forgiven for feeling like our legendary boss never left us. The media circus has been as depressing as it has been predictable. Coverage has centred on feuds; public and private, settled and unsettled. At the risk of sounding like Roy Maurice, it all feels unseemly and unnecessary. Autobiographies are commonly guilty of falling into the Father Ted Golden Cleric approach - 'you doubted me but look where I am now.' When it works it can be magnificent (Diego Maradona), but often it leaves an unedifying impression of the writer (Andy Cole). I'm hoping Fergie's falls into the former category. Of course I will read it - I'm starting it today - but for those of a red persuasion a potentially more satisfying read may have slipped under your radar.

Daniel Harris will be known to British readers as a writer for the Guardian; most recently drawing acclaim and ire for an honest/treacherous article raiding concerns about Moyes performance thus far. He secured a place in the hearts of United fans with his excellent blog turned book account of 2009/10 season. The Manchester United literary genre is saturated with anodyne musings but Harris made his mark by fusing three elements; love for the club, searing honesty and sardonic wit. I loved it, so news of a new tome focusing on the greatest nine months in the history of sport was cause for celebration.

Regular listeners to the pod (hello to the pair of you) and readers of my spiel (same two again) will be familiar with my Bill Murray tendencies to wallow in the treble campaign like a hog in wet soil. In 'The Promised Land' Harris takes us through that most remarkable of seasons month by month. To dismiss the book as a basic season review would be an injustice but I do think there is a lot to be said for the simple narrative approach. To impose a David Winner style abstract approach would dilute the experience as momentum builds towards the much vaunted climax. Large tracts of the book are essentially match reports where Harris delights in demonstrating his love of language - passes are 'tickled', shots are 'welted' and ankles are 'rapped' (inevitably by Scholes). A sad casualty of the saturation of football coverage has been the match report. Why should you pore over written description when you can witness instant visuals on your smart phone? Pleasingly Harris harks back to a simpler time and the book is all the richer for it. My advice is read the book, then relive the action through the Treble DVD. Shining throughout is the humour inherent in football - and no I don't mean 'banter.' Opportunities are embraced to make not so subtle digs at targets from Martin Tyler to Martin Edwards and everything in between. A healthy contempt for Liverpool football club is ever present.

Arguably the greatest strength of the book is the unashamed love of the club. No attempt is made to appear the impartial football journalist and instead the feeling is of a shared experience with a like mind. The men who redefined what could be achieved in the modern era are rightly held in the highest esteem; yet with the exception of Keane and Scholes such reverence never crosses into hero worship. The vanity and egos of Schmeichel, Sheringham and even Ferguson are addressed. When covering such a well trodden subject matter the small details become increasingly important and seemingly minor references such as Blomqvist's self-doubt become the most memorable the book. A criticism I would make is the failure to elaborate on such matters. An understandable decision to keep momentum I accept, but it left me frustrated that asides such as the complex relationship between Goalkeeper and Captain went unexplored. It certainly isn't a perfect work; the passages pulled from Neville and Keane's own books risked becoming repetitive, and the references to the current era felt clunky and shoe-horned in.

Overall a brilliant work that places the reader in the thick of the action whilst gaining insight into the foibles and motivations of the actors involved. Given my pride in knowing 'everything' about my most treasured season of triumph I was surprised how much I learned without feeling bombarded with trivia. In fact his work is anything but trivial. I would love to hear how younger fans who didn't experience the season first hand feel about the book. How effective the book is as a first encounter with the events of those unrivalled nine months I cannot evaluate, but as a trip down memory lane it made for a hugely enjoyable week. Now where did I put that DVD....
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on 4 December 2013
I bought this for my husband and will now be buying several copies for friends and families...what an easy Christmas this will be! Hubby said this was a great read, very funny and so well researched. he is quite a tough crowd, so trust me when I say that you can feel safe in buying this book!
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on 23 February 2014
This book is obviously only for Manchester United fans and it is written by journalist Daniel Harris who writes mainly for the Guardian.Mr Harris describes every game in minute detail in United's treble season and this can be a little tedious hence only the 3 stars.The author also likes to insert his political prejudices into the book which to me seem out of place.
It should be hard to write a bad book about this wondrous treble winning season but Mr Harris has a good try.
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on 7 November 2013
Really enjoyed this. Takes you back to 99, with a view from the modern era. Genuinely loads of laugh out loud bits too. Definitely buy even if you're not a united fan...
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on 14 March 2014
I bought it as a lifelong United fan and as a supporter who actually attended every match of the historic treble winning season to see if it was as I remember it and if it brought anything back to mind that I has forgotten - nope it's pretty much as I remember it - but for a football book it is well written with a hint of the classic Manc irony running all the way through it!
I enjoyed it but it's not a huge classic I'd say.
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on 18 November 2013
A superb book about the greatest season that Manchester United has ever has great detail about the games that were played

Great quotes by the players and manager involved and also the author's observation about Martin Tyler's reactions .
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on 25 February 2014
Quite interesting if you want to re-live all of those great moments from that season. Some of the descriptions of the matches are a bit long and laborious and a bit more information about other aspects of the season would have been good. Also, it would seem that Harris doesn't seem fond of Peter Schmeichel as every mention of him is accompanied by some criticism. Overall though, it passed the time well on a sunny half-term break.
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on 22 March 2014
Promise unfulfilled

Ever met someone who in the first few minutes seemed hilarious and fascinating, but after an hour proves so boring you can only keep yourself awake by digging your nails into your palms? Welcome, sadly, to The Promised Land.

Daniel Harris has a lively and fresh writing style. You may have encountered him writing pithy pieces – often about Manchester United - for the Guardian. So I was delighted to see he had written a history of the United treble. And when I began reading, he seemed to live up to his promise. The introductory chapter is witty and original – a welcome departure from the ploddy cliché of so much football writing.

But then we get into the narrative of that historic year, and it is as if a DVD commentary has been recorded by a train spotter, and then converted to text. If you are a United fan – and it’s unlikely you’ll read this book unless you are – you will almost certainly already own a DVD of The Treble. Indeed if you’re like me, you’ll be watching it a lot at the moment as the only way to enjoy seeing United play.

Well, if you know that DVD, you don’t need this book. Harris – tragically, for he is better than this – methodically describes every single match, and every single goal, for the whole season. This is the familiar curse of the football book: the chronological account, match by match. Crushingly dull, even for the fan. What’s worse, the extra colour he provides comes not from new journalism but from reporting the familiar footage and interviews to be found on the DVD, in other books or elsewhere. There is next to nothing I haven't read or seen before.

Old stuff, new insight would be great. New stuff, old insight wouldn’t be bad. But old stuff with old insight – tarted up with vernacular prose and a few expletives, is little use to anyone. It rapidly becomes like reading a bright teenager who's trying too hard.

I’m sad to say I never finished this book. After all, I know how it ends. '..and Solsklaer has won it! Manchester United have reached the Promised Land!'

But this reader didn't.
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on 10 February 2014
I gave it three stars because while there are things that I feel stopped it being a great book, I also enjoyed reading significant parts of it and am still glad I read it.

What I disliked most about the book is that there is too much written about match events, sometimes 4 or 5 pages at a time and I found myself glancing ahead to find out when it would end. Too much written about who passed to whom, and in what minute, and what direction they were facing and where they were standing when they received the ball. It just felt like long match reports at times. I understand that sometimes, this detail can be important (Giggs receiving the ball from a stray pass from Vieira), but most of the time, it is just tedious detail.

On the other hand, where the book discusses details such as players' relationships with each other, significant interviews and reasoning behind Ferguson's team selections and impact on the team and the season, I thought these were great. These details became more and more important as the book went on and I found the book a much easier read in the final third as compared to previously.
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on 25 November 2014
I am a United fan of 35 years & remember this season as though it was yesterday, so when I seen this book come up, I had to buy it.
How I wish i didn't.
As much as I love the memory's & credit the author for his game by game narrative, he seems to ruin it by over explaining events & using sentences which made me wonder what I was reading - it didn't flow for me & that ruined the book in my opinion.
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