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Fergie Time

David Runciman: Sir Alex​ Speaks (again)

9 January 2014
My Autobiography 
by Alex Ferguson.
Hodder, 402 pp., £25, October 2013, 978 0 340 91939 2
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... AlexFerguson is a conspiracist, which is not quite the same as being a conspiracy theorist. Conspiracists see patterns of collusion and deceit behind everyday events. Their default position is that someone ...

Short Cuts

David Runciman: Narcissistic Kevins

6 November 2014
... inveterate troublemaker and relationship-breaker. There are ostensible similarities: at the centre of both accounts is a monumental falling out with the coach (Andy Flower in Pietersen’s case, AlexFerguson in Keane’s) that culminates in a brutal dressing-room showdown. Things are said in each case that can’t be taken back and can’t be repaired. But really the two books are worlds apart ...

Diary

Tobias Jones: Campaigning at the Ministry of Sound

6 March 1997
... at Stamford Bridge, whose timely £1 million for a ‘New Britain’ is helping the message get through. Blair has milked football for all its worth. He has head-tennised with Keegan, kept goal with AlexFerguson (front page of the in-house magazine, New Labour, New Britain, beaming good intentions: ‘Come On You Reds’). He even has much of the Toon army as his electorate in Sedgefield, and ...

Who has the biggest books?

Craig Clunas: Missionaries in China

7 February 2008
Journey to the East: The Jesuit Mission to China, 1579-1724 
by Liam Matthew Brockey.
Harvard, 496 pp., £22.95, March 2007, 978 0 674 02448 9
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... learning Chinese – foreigners who possess one, like Li Yuese (Joseph Needham), author of Science and Civilisation in China, have a quite different status from those who do not, like George Bush or AlexFerguson. Only an educated Chinese could have decided that Matteo Ricci would be Li Madou, that Nicolas Trigault would be Jin Nige, or Ferdinand Verbiest Nan Huairen. These ‘Chinese’ names do not ...

He shoots! He scores!

David Runciman: José Mourinho

5 January 2006
Mourinho: Anatomy of a Winner 
by Patrick Barclay.
Orion, 210 pp., £14.99, September 2005, 0 7528 7333 4
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... of managerial ‘mind games’, of which it has now become an article of faith among the British press that Mourinho is the new master, having inherited this crown from the previous champion, AlexFerguson. Ferguson’s claim to a place in what Barclay calls ‘the mind games hall of fame’ is always traced back to the moment in 1996 when his goading of Newcastle’s manager Kevin Keegan produced a ...

Diary

Tobias Jones: The politics of football

7 May 1998
... have occasionally mistaken shouting and screaming, standing up, a few gesticulations, the wanker-sign, as indications of ominous intent. It’s all beginning to be frowned on and stamped out. AlexFerguson, the Manchester United manager, has lamented the lack of ‘atmosphere’ at Old Trafford: ‘it doesn’t seem as vibrant as the old days.’ David Davies, the FA’s head of public affairs, has ...

Diary

John Lanchester: A Month on the Sofa

11 July 2002
... and interesting. 9 June. At the last World Cup the cameramen would often, when Brazil were playing, focus in on Ronaldo’s blonde girlfriend in the crowd. What we didn’t know, but is revealed in Alex Bellos’s terrific book about Brazilian football culture, Futebol (Bloomsbury, 256 pp., £9.99, 6 May, 0 74755 403 x), is that he went on to marry a different blonde, Milene Domingues, who had the ...
30 August 2012
... out. Manchester United are the standard-bearers of the Premier League era, relentlessly victorious on the field with teams repeatedly built and rebuilt over the last twenty years by the manager, AlexFerguson. The club has expanded its Old Trafford stadium to accommodate 76,000 seats, making it by far England’s biggest; ticket prices and lavish corporate entertainment bring in between £3 and ...

Swing for the Fences

David Runciman: Mourinho’s Way

30 June 2011
Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won 
by Tobias Moskowitz and Jon Wertheim.
Crown, 278 pp., £19.50, January 2011, 978 0 307 59179 1
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... Yes, the home side does sometimes seem to get the benefit of the doubt from the referee, and yes, injury time does seem to go on for ever when Manchester United are playing at home – the image of AlexFerguson consulting his watch as United push forward for a winning goal in the 97th minute at Old Trafford is probably the one that defines the Premier League. But why do the home side always seem ...

Diary

Melanie McFadyean: In the Wrong Crowd

24 September 2014
... secondary liability on the basis that you must have realised that someone you were with might commit a violent act with that intent, even if you didn’t share it. On the afternoon of 6 August 2013 Alex Henry, Janhelle Grant-Murray, Younis Tayyib and Cameron Ferguson, all aged 20 or 21, were involved in a fight in an Ealing street. The fight lasted around forty seconds and resulted in the death from ...

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