A biography about one of the most influential managers in the history of British football that’s written by one of the most respected football journalists in the UK today; it isn’t surprising that ‘Football – Bloody Hell!: the biography of Alex Ferguson’ is arguably the most-anticipated football book of the year. Sir Alex Ferguson has become synonymous with the English Premier League in recent years and has brought unprecedented success to Manchester United that is unlikely to be repeated any time soon. So who better to tell the story of one of the most compelling figures in British football than esteemed broadsheet journalist Patrick Barclay?
There are few things that haven’t already been said about Fergie. He is up there with Bob Paisley, Matt Busby, Bill Shankly, Brian Clough and the rest as the best manager of all-time in British football. Even if you’re not a Manchester United supporter, for whom this book is an essential read, as a fan of football you’ll be intrigued to gain an insight into the life of one of British football’s institutions. What makes the story of Ferguson even more interesting is that he’s not afraid to get off the fence and as a result controversy is never far away.
Currently not talking to the BBC as a matter of principal, Ferguson is not a man to let players get the better of him, something he’s shown time and time again during his rein at Old Trafford. He’s seen the likes of Jaap Stam and Cristiano Ronaldo come and go, while Fergie has remained the one constant for the Red Devils, and the removal of David Beckham from the club showed just what the Scot is about. Sir Alex is now entering the final chapter of his career, even though he keeps putting off his overdue retirement, so there seems no better time to tell his story.
There are few people as well-qualified as Patrick Barclay to tell that story. Barclay is currently the Chief Football Commentator for The Times and is one of the most respected football journalists in the industry, having previously written for The Guardian, The Observer, the Telegraph and the Independent. He has also told the story of enigmatic Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho in his first book ‘Mourinho: Anatomy of a Winner’, which was published in 2005 to much acclaim. There are many similarities to be drawn between Fergie and the Special One, which are touched on in the beautifully named chapter ‘Wine with Mourinho’.
Patrick Barclay draws some fascinating conclusions about Fergie after delving into his life, from his working class youth in Govan to dealing with one of the most hated families in one half of Manchester: The Glazers. Barclay uses his literary flair to turn his findings from pitch-side interviews and chats with fellow managers and former players to a comprehensive look at the character of Sir Alex. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a book that will tell you as much about the intimidating character and gives such a revealing insight into the legend of British football that is Sir Alex Ferguson.
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