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Fergie: The Greatest Manchester United 1986-2013 By Frank Worrall

Release date: 01st July, 2013
Publisher: John Blake

List Price: £12.99
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In the aftermath of Sir Alex Ferguson’s recent retirement, whole forests were felled to accommodate the acres of newsprint devoted to his departure from Old Trafford.

For some, the subsequent paeans of praise bordered on the sycophantic, though also inexplicable, given Ferguson’s unequivocal disdain for some members of the Fourth Estate.

Nevertheless, it will be strange preparing for the start of a new football season without hearing his familiar Scottish brogue and ready-made sound-bites, while reading of his latest press conference outburst, a regular pre-season feature invariably followed by a ‘cooling off’ period, during which he utters not a word.

Love him or loathe him, Sir Alex Ferguson succeeded in making his mark and not just domestically.

Frank Worrall’s engaging, well-researched biography supports the view that for most of his time at Old Trafford, Sir Alex Ferguson was driven by a compulsive desire to supersede Liverpool and displace them in football’s record books. It could be argued that surpassing the Merseysider’s long-held record of 18 league titles gave Sir Alex even greater satisfaction that securing any other piece of silverware. It was hardly Ferguson’s fault that by the time he achieved what he set out to do when recruited by Martin Edwards more than a quarter century before, United’s fiercest rivals had become a team of limited ambition.

Sir Alex’s teams – and he built three great sides – thoroughly dominated domestic competition for an extraordinarily long period. We can only guess what he made of their comparative ‘failure’ in Europe to do likewise. Yet as Frank Worrall reminds us, we should not forget his achievements north of the border where he succeeded in ensuring that Aberdeen broke the Old Firm monopoly. This, remember, was accomplished without the financial resources he would later have at his disposal.

Fans of some opposition football clubs were delighted to see the back of Ferguson: “It’ll give us a bit of a chance,” said one, but as the author points out, were going to miss him, his naturally argumentative nature, his chewing gum, that overcoat, his manner, ‘Fergie time’ and his inspirational drive.

His departure may offer other clubs an opportunity to finally secure silverware that has eluded them for decades, but we will never see Sir Alex Ferguson’s like again. The greatest, unspoken, tribute fans have been quietly offering is a wish that he had managed their club for the last 25-odd years.

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