ALEX FERGUSON would have sold plenty of copies of his second autobiography if it had been a pleasant, sugar-coated, review of his successful managerial career. To have a career that long, with that amount of success, there must be more than a book full of happy memories and heart-warming anecdotes to tell.
If he’d done that it wouldn’t have filled the back pages all week, it wouldn’t have had the same amount of publicity, so it wouldn’t have sold as many copies. It would have sold plenty – and let’s face it, he doesn’t need the book to be a success to help fund a long comfortable retirement – but it wouldn’t have sold as many.
Maybe he just wanted to get all that stuff off his chest, maybe he really did want to make as much money out of it as possible, maybe his ghost writer was the one who picked and chose which bits to put in and where to put them.
Regardless of the intentions a full chapter on Liverpool FC, no doubt with many a mention elsewhere, is going to ensure he gets more publicity, ensure he gets more sales. Some have defended him saying the chapter as a whole is positive about Liverpool – but before the vast majority of the general public could get their hands on a copy they’d been treated to all the dirt.
Brendan Rodgers made a quip about the book at the opening of the new LFC museum on Wednesday night, something along the lines of Liverpool not doing too bad so far this season seeing as their eight players short. He then had to face questions at his weekly press conference about the rest of the LFC-related dirt that Ferguson had dished.
He decided to respond.
“I’m not here to publicise his book, he’s had enough coverage this week as it is,” Rodgers said.
He had to defend the honour of his club and his players. Ferguson had got personal, something he himself had said you should never do, so Rodgers responded.
“In terms of the personal stuff about Stevie and Jordan, sometimes it can be like that when you don’t get players that you want.
“I was bitterly disappointed with what was said about Jordan. Sir Alex is someone who worked with and nurtured young players so the statement in terms of Jordan was inappropriate really.
“I’m sure somewhere along the line, if Sir Alex bumps into Jordan, he will apologise because I don’t think it was right, especially from someone who knows that every word to a young player is important.
“Having worked with Jordan, you won’t get a more honest player. He is a young player fighting for his career in the game and he gives everything. When Kenny signed him I thought it was a great signing. He was outstanding at Sunderland but going to a big club was going to take him a wee bit of time.
“There was a reference to his running style [in Ferguson’s book] but every player is different. There aren’t too many with a perfect running gait. Players will always have deficiencies in some way, some technical, some tactical.
“One thing you can say with Jordan is that he is an outstanding athlete. I think he could play two games back to back. He’s got a beautiful posture and he’s shown that over time he’ll be a very good player for Liverpool. Tactically, he’s improving all the time.
“We know his strengths are physical. Maybe at a young age, when someone’s physically good, what can sometimes get forgotten is their technical and tactical development.
“Now he’s starting to use those physical qualities in a mature way and he will get better and better.”
Ferguson also had a dig at Steven Gerrard.
“Steven’s record speaks for itself, said Rodgers. “Just look at his career and the accolades he has received all the way through his life, not only from managers but fellow players.”
Ferguson claimed he tried to sign Gerrard at a time when Liverpool were knocking back bids of over £32m but that Gerrard had snubbed him. Ferguson also claimed that he was “one of the few” who thought that this player, who he’d tried to spend all that money on, wasn’t a “top, top player”.
Rodgers said: “He’s probably one of the few – if not the only one – who doesn’t believe Steven is a top, top player. I don’t think it was credible really in terms of what was said. He may not have won the title but that is more because of the teams he’s been in rather than him himself. He’s a world class player and still operates at a high level.
“To say he wasn’t a top player after scoring so many times against Manchester United over the years, and Manchester United wanting to sign him along with Real Madrid, Chelsea and every other European team, must be a bit tongue in cheek.”
Although Rodgers had to take part in “Being: Liverpool”, the fly-on-the-wall documentary Tom Werner had signed the club up to long before Rodgers arrive at the club, he’s no interest in spilling the beans on the goings on inside a club.
“I’ve been a manager for a short period of time,” he said, “and even in that period I’ve been offered the opportunity twice to write a book. Once with Swansea’s promotion to the Premier League and then coming here.
“At this stage of my life I have absolutely no interest in it. My focus is purely on doing the best I possibly can for the club.”
For Rodgers trust is important: “I’d like to think in the changing room I have we can always speak honestly and openly. I would be bitterly disappointed if the players felt they couldn’t say something because the manager might repeat it in times to come.”
Rodgers feels that what has come out from the book could well cause damage to Ferguson’s legacy: “There’s a sadness to it,” he said, “as this is something that will probably stay with people for a long while.
“His achievements in the game have been well documented, every football person would have enjoyed seeing him going out and leaving the legacy he had done.
“Now people are only going to talk about his comments in the book.”
Ferguson, his ghost writer and his publishers may well be laughing all the way to the bank, but the bitterness seeping out of this book from Ferguson, despite all that success, is something the rest of football is laughing at today.
He wanted the last word, he didn’t even get the last laugh.