When Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement from football last year, a large number of biographies on him quickly appeared on the market. Most of these were quite poor quality, consisting of a few hundred pages based on his life in football, with little in the way of new interviews or research. Not surprisingly, these ones can now be found at greatly reduced prices in bargain book stores or on the internet at low prices. There are also a small number of genuinely really good and well researched books that have since been written on Sir Alex Ferguson which focused on particular areas of his career. Included in that is the latest book ‘Fergie Rises’ written by Michael Grant and this definitely stands out as one of the best books written about Alex Ferguson.
Having read Alex Ferguson’s book ‘A Light in the North’ which covered his time as manager of Aberdeen and also his 1999 book ‘Managing my Life’ which also contained a number of chapters on his time at Aberdeen, I was particularly interested in this book by Grant. The book is based on Alex Ferguson’s time at Aberdeen between 1978 and 1986. It also covers Ferguson’s time as Assistant to Jock Stein with the Scotland team and also his time in charge, following Stein’s shock death.
The amount of research and the number of interviews did for this book is very impressive. The Aberdeen players from Alex Ferguson’s time there that he interviewed for the book is particularly impressive. For me, it was especially great to read the current views of Gordon Strachan and Jim Leighton on Ferguson, having watched both of them play for him at United.
The obvious target market for this book will be Aberdeen fans, but the quality of writing by Grant and his insight makes it a great read for all football fans, especially Manchester United fans.
Reading through the book, so many of the things we have witnessed Ferguson doing during his time as Manchester United manager were also done during his time as Aberdeen manager too. Things like his hair dryer treatments of players, mind games and the banning of journalists from his press conferences were commonplace at Aberdeen, long before he joined United.
As a Manchester United fan I have to agree with Grant’s view that what Ferguson did and learnt at Aberdeen benefitted us at Old Trafford so much throughout his time at United. Ferguson’s time up there at Aberdeen was a truly special one and what he achieved up there is unlikely to be repeated again. Grant’s analysis of this is excellent and I fully recommend reading to book to people interested in football history, especially the career of Alex Ferguson.