Football – Bloody Hell!
The Biography of Alex Ferguson
By Patrick Barclay
Yellow Jersey Press – £12.99
Were it not for an assortment of glaring howlers, Football – Bloody Hell! The Biography of Alex Ferguson would be an altogether more rounded, more believable, and far more substantial read. As is, it’s a mild-mannered andrelatively safe traipse through the quasi-controversial career of one of football’s most enduring and cunning of football managers.
Like many biographies, football in particular, one has to question the reasoning behind many a spurious manifestation thereof. Reason being, Chief Football Commentator for The Times Patrick Barclay (whose first book in 2005 was Mourinho: Anatomy of a Winner) has enjoyed a truly glittering career as a sports journalist, having also written for The Guardian/Observer, The Independent and The Telegraph.
So one cannot but wonder why he has written this book, which is clearly a biography by numbers, and is nothing other than a convenient cash cow.
For instance, the most prominent of aforementioned mistakes, appears in a chapter called ‘No Wenger, No Eriksson – Ferguson Stays’ toward the end of the book, in which Barclay clumsily writes: ‘’The final was to take place at Hampden Park, Glasgow, where a teenage Ferguson had gaped at the majesty of Real Madrid’s triumph over Eintracht Frankfurt in 1960, and Ferguson, who seldom missed an opportunity to strengthen his team psychologically, encouraged the belief that some force might be drawing them to his home city in the evening of his career. The prospect that Real might be their opponents only enhanced this line of thought. In 2008 he was to use the fifth anniversary of the Munich air disaster to motivate his players, and with more emphasis, and, it might be claimed, successfully, for United were to beat Chelsea on penalties. But in 2002 they did not even reach the final.’’
Apart from the writing being somewhat clumsy, especially for a writer of Barclay’s calibre, the scorching miscalculation of ‘’In 2008 he was to use the fifth anniversary of the Munich air disaster,’’ is surely, nigh unforgivable. Apart from appearing flippant and perhaps a little disrespectful, how could the author have overlooked this (let alone allowed it to be printed)? This may admittedly be nothing other than an innocent error, for it doesn’t detract from the book as a whole; but it does shine a certain amount of light as to why Football – Bloody Hell! was written in the first place.
Let’s face it, there’s a really great book waiting to be written on Alex Ferguson, and this unfortunately, absolutely isn’t it. It’s far too slap-dash. Far too by the by.