I picked up a bunch of books to read recently and the first one I finished was Alex Ferguson’s biography. Imaginatively titled “My Biography,” the bio details the life and career of Sir Alex Ferguson, the legendary longtime manager of English football club Manchester United. Now while I’m an Arsenal fan, that doesn’t stop me from admiring Ferguson who won 13 league titles as well as 2 European Champions Cups with United. He also won three league titles and an European Cup with Aberdeen in the Scottish top division in the late 1980s.
The book is quite interesting and straightforward though there aren’t any major revelations or controversies. Ferguson was never shy to speak his mind with his players or tangle with the press but he keeps an even, diplomatic tone in the book. The only exception would be a few things like his description of his former United captain Roy Keane’s beady black eyes during an argument which filled Ferguson, a man from Glasgow who was no stranger to tough characters, with terror and his negative assessments of ex-Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez. Instead of being arranged in chronological order, each chapter of the book focuses on a particular player (Beckham, Ronaldo, Keane etc), season, or rival club which does make it more interesting. The chapter on Ferguson’s early days in his hometown Glasgow is one of the more amusing and interesting ones, touching on the days when he was a bar owner (he ran two bars) whilst managing smaller clubs.
Even if you’re not a football or Manchester United fan, the book has a few useful insights in management. Respect tradition, keep your grouses with players in house, power is about control, never let a player usurp your authority or think he’s bigger than the club, be confident when happening before the press, etc. The man spent 27 years at the top (and he was a World Cup and a Scottish title-winning manager even before that) and with one club which is amazing.