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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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... Alex Ferguson 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 somewhere is invariably plotting something. Conspiracy theorists go further: they want to join up the dots and discover the overarching pattern that makes sense of seemingly unrelated happenings ...

Short Cuts

David Runciman: Narcissistic Kevins, 6 November 2014

... of both accounts is a monumental falling out with the coach (Andy Flower in Pietersen’s case, Alex Ferguson 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. Moving from Pietersen’s perspective to Keane’s is ...

We want our Mars Bars!

Will Frears: Arsène Who?, 7 January 2021

My Life in Red and White 
by Arsène Wenger, translated by Daniel Hahn and Andrea Reece.
Weidenfeld, 352 pp., £25, October 2020, 978 1 4746 1824 3
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... who isn’t a fan would read one (or read a piece about one, for that matter). I wouldn’t read Ferguson’s or Clough’s or Busby’s or Guardiola’s. Why would I care? The five I have read are: We All Live in a Perry Groves World (Arsenal winger, 1986-92); It’s Only Ray Parlour (Arsenal midfielder, 1992-2004); Stillness and Speed: My Story by Dennis ...


Tobias Jones: Campaigning at the Ministry of Sound, 6 March 1997

... Blair has milked football for all its worth. He has head-tennised with Keegan, kept goal with Alex Ferguson (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 tactfully offered condolences to fans on the day Keegan ...

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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... Civilisation in China, have a quite different status from those who do not, like George Bush or Alex Ferguson. 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 appear very prominently in the Jesuit sources, but ...

Who am I prepared to kill?

William Davies: The Politics of Like and Dislike, 30 July 2020

... focus of these divisions. Context is important. The statue of the former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson outside Old Trafford wouldn’t go down so well – with Manchester City fans in particular – if it were placed anywhere else in Manchester. But by and large, the attempt to constrain how future generations allocate acclaim deserves to ...

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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... press that Mourinho is the new master, having inherited this crown from the previous champion, Alex Ferguson. 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 spectacular ...


Tobias Jones: The Politics of Football, 7 May 1998

... as indications of ominous intent. It’s all beginning to be frowned on and stamped out. Alex Ferguson, 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 made much the same complaint. The nouveau fans ...

Follow the Money

David Conn, 30 August 2012

... on the field with teams repeatedly built and rebuilt over the last twenty years by the manager, Alex Ferguson. 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 £4 million each matchday. United had cash in the bank ...


John Lanchester: A Month on the Sofa, 11 July 2002

... 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 distinction of being the Brazilian champion at keeping a ...

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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... time does seem to go on for ever when Manchester United are playing at home – the image of Alex Ferguson 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 more likely to score at the end? Why are they the ones ...


Melanie McFadyean: In the Wrong Crowd, 25 September 2014

... 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 a single stab wound of ...

Even When It’s a Big Fat Lie

Alex Abramovich: ‘Country Music’, 8 October 2020

Country Music 
directed by Ken Burns.
PBS, eight episodes
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... the end of the story. For one thing, Porter didn’t get a producer’s credit on the song – Bob Ferguson did, because he’d already produced it, six months before the events Parton describes, in the summer of 1973. For another, Wagoner didn’t just let Parton go; he filed a $3 million lawsuit for breach of contract, and the suits and countersuits dragged ...

Chasing Steel

Ian Jack: Scotland’s Ferry Fiasco, 22 September 2022

... James Lamont and Co. bordered the castle on its upriver side. Downriver, and even closer, lay the Ferguson Brothers yard. The ships built at both yards were small – 300 feet long at most – and had humdrum purposes: ferries, tugs, minesweepers, dredgers, the sludge boats that took the sewage from Glasgow and dumped it in the outer firth.The bigger and more ...

Hatpin through the Brain

Jonathan Meades: Closing Time for the Firm, 9 June 2022

The Palace Papers 
by Tina Brown.
Century, 571 pp., £20, April, 978 1 5291 2470 5
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... of entering the lists she does not yet appear to be regarded as a mistake of the calibre of Sarah Ferguson and Diana Spencer.The latter prompts Tina Brown to remark: ‘What a pity that the queen, so gifted at reading the bloodlines of horses, misread so profoundly the Spencers’ suitability to join with royal stock. Yes, in terms of pedigree, they were ...

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