Alex Ferguson's autobiography unveiled
The former Manchester United manager chronicles his relationships with many players
Ferguson describes Wayne Rooney as "not the quickest learner"
The Scotsman twice turned down the opportunity to manage England
It is the much-anticipated book many in football have been waiting for, while others have feared its publication.
Alex Ferguson’s autobiography offered the tantalizing prospect of lifting the lid on life as the manager of one of the world’s biggest football clubs – Manchester United.
Ferguson retired after 27 years at Old Trafford in May, giving him time to reflect on a career which has seen the Scotsman clash with the great and the good of world football.
If you don’t have the time to sift through Ferguson’s 400-page memoir, don’t worry.
CNN is here to help, with the 10 things you can’t afford to miss from “Alex Ferguson: My Autobiography.”
Ferguson on Wayne Rooney:
Ferguson and the United staff were impressed with Rooney from a young age. “This was a man playing in under-age football,” the Scot’s scouting reports told him when he was a schoolboy playing for rival club Everton.
United attempted to sign Rooney at the ages of 14 and 16, but on both occasions the young striker turned the Old Trafford club down, with the forward’s commitment to Everton being such that the club was “in his blood,” according to Ferguson.
“A remarkable raw talent,” is how Ferguson describes the player he finally signed in 2004, but he also labels Rooney as “not the quickest learner.”
Ferguson also didn’t take kindly to Rooney’s suggestions as to which players United might sign.
Playmaker Mesut Ozil is currently delighting Arsenal fans with his sparkling form. And according to Ferguson, the German was a player Rooney thought United should have bought in 2010, before he joined Real Madrid from Werder Bremen.
Ferguson told Rooney in no uncertain terms that it was “none of his business who we should have gone for.”
Ferguson on Roy Keane:
Roy Keane played for United between 1993 and 2005, acting as Ferguson’s general and captain out on the pitch.
“He was the most influential presence in the dressing room in the time we worked together,” says Ferguson. “Roy took a lot of the onus off me in making sure the dressing room was operating at a high level of motivation.”
But Keane was fiercely critical of players who he deemed weren’t committed to the United cause and as his relationship with the club fractured, it would be his undoing.
The Irishman lambasted some of the team’s younger players during an interview with United’s MUTV television channel.
“The hardest part of his body is his tongue,” says Ferguson of Keane. “He had the most savage tongue you can imagine.”
Keane left United to sign for boyhood club Celtic, where he played 10 games before retiring in June 2006.
Ferguson on David Beckham:
Both Ferguson and David Beckham bowed out of football at the end of the 2012-13 season, with the former saying “He went out at Paris Saint-Germain much as I did at United: on his own terms.”
Beckham left United to join Real Madrid in 2003 and Ferguson details how the relationship between the two had deteriorated.
After a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal in February 2003, Ferguson kicked a boot which flew towards Beckham and struck him just about his left eye. It marked the beginning of the end of Beckham’s United career.
Ferguson suggests Beckham became distracted by the media storm which follows him wherever he goes.
“His eye was off the ball,” says Ferguson. “A shame, because he could still have been at Manchester United when I left.”
Ferguson does praise the former England captain’s tenacity and longevity, but wonders whether Beckham might live to regret swapping European football for Major League Soccer and the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007.
“At some point in his life, he may feel the urge to say: I made a mistake.”
Ferguson on Suarez/Evra affair:
One of the great controversies of Ferguson’s latter years at United is the racism row which erupted between Patrice Evra and Luis Suarez, of the club’s great rivals Liverpool.
Suarez was hit with an eight-game ban in December 2011 for racially abusing Evra, with Ferguson highly critical of how then Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish handled the affair.
Suarez refused to shake Evra’s hand ahead of a match later on in the 2011-12 season, an act which drew Ferguson’s ire.
“A club of Liverpool’s stature should have done something about that, but he played in the game all the same,” recalls Ferguson.
“I called Suarez a ‘disgrace to Liverpool’ and said they would be wise to ‘get rid’ of him.”
Ferguson on England job:
The passionate Scotsman reveals he was twice offered the chance to manage the England national team, in 1999 and 2001. But it was not a job he entertained accepting for one minute.
“There was no way I could contemplate taking the England job,” he says. “Can you imagine me doing that? A Scotsman?
“I always joked that I would take the position and relegate them: make them the 150th rated country in the world, with Scotland 149.”
Ferguson on Cristiano Ronaldo:
He is in no doubt that Ronaldo was “the most gifted player I managed.”
“He surpassed all the other great ones (players) I coached at United. And I had many,” says Ferguson of the Portuguese star.
Ronaldo joined Real Madrid for a then world record fee of £80 million pounds in 2009, a transfer which Ferguson describes as “a clever move by them.”
“It was a way for Florentino Perez, their president, to say to the world ‘We are Real Madrid, we are the biggest of the lot.’”
It marked the end of a two-year pursuit of Ronaldo by Real Madrid.
Perez’s predecessor as Real president Ramon Calderon made a bid to sign the explosive forward in 2008 which irked Ferguson, with the Scot telling Ronaldo “I’d rather shoot you than sell you to that guy now.”
A year later, Ronaldo was unveiled in the Spanish capital.
Ferguson on Barcelona:
In 2009 and 2011, Ferguson saw his United team lose to Barcelona in European Champions League finals.
Barcelona’s style of play was unrivaled in Ferguson’s eyes and he describes the Catalan team as “the best team ever to line up against my Manchester United sides.”
Ferguson reserves special praise for Lionel Messi, the four-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner who was to become Barcelona’s talisman.
“The group of world-beaters who formed around Messi were formidable,” declares Ferguson. “I felt no envy towards those great sides. Regrets yes, when we lost to them, but jealousy, no.”
Ferguson on Sven Goran Eriksson:
Ferguson first announced his intention to retire in 2001, saying he would sever all ties with United in May 2002.
Eventually he performed a U-turn and signed a new contract with the club and the rest, as they say, is history.
But for a large part of the 2001-02 season, United’s board were trying to identify a successor to Ferguson.
The man they had in mind, according to Ferguson, was then England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.
“The head-hunters were due to meet a candidate to succeed me the following week,” explains Ferguson.
“Sven-Goran Eriksson was to be the new Manchester United manager, I believe … I remember asking Paul Scholes one day: “Scholesy, what’s Eriksson got?’ but Scholesy could shed no light.”