It was announced earlier this year that, following his 2013 Autobiography, Sir Alex Ferguson would bring out a new book called Leading. Along with the book, there would also be a small number of Live Question and Answer Interviews with Ferguson to promote the book in London, Manchester, Aberdeen and also a number of venues in America. The Manchester one proved to be the most popular with tickets selling out in minutes, once they went on General Sale. We were able to get tickets for this event in Manchester, having been to Ferguson’s 2013 Live Question and Answer Interview at the Lowry in Salford.
I was pleased to see that, as with the 2013 Lowry Event, Dan Walker would again be asking Ferguson the questions. I first heard of Dan Walker in the late 1990s as we listened to Key 103 Radio on the way to United matches. Dan was the Manchester United reporter for Key 103 and I always thought he did well on there. It has been pleasing to see how far his career has developed since that start at Key 103. Walker was clearly trusted by Ferguson and it made for a smooth flowing, open and interesting interview between them again this time, like in 2013.
The setting, Bridgewater Hall in Manchester City Centre, was a nice venue, with nearly 2000 people there in the audience. Included in the price of the ticket was a copy of Sir Alex Ferguson’s new book Leading. Unfortunately the books had not been signed by Sir Alex. At the moment there are no plans for any book signings by him either.
There had already been a lot of discussion about this book, especially on social media, thanks to the serialisation of it, to help promote sales of the book. The biggest talking point being Ferguson’s opinion that Cristiano Ronaldo, Cantona, Giggs and Scholes were his only truly World Class players during his time at United. Ferguson went on to explain this decision in detail to the audience and also about the other great players he managed. David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Paul Ince and Roy Keane, four of the players he has seemingly had differences of opinion with, were mentioned a number of times by Ferguson in the interview, all in a positive light.
The Interview by Dan Walker went on for about 1 hour and 15 minutes and seemed to go quickly, which is definitely a sign of a good interview. The audience seemed to enjoy it all, with lots of applause, cheers and laughs in reaction to what Ferguson was saying during the interview. It went a lot further than just about his time managing Manchester United. There was a good discussion about his time in Scotland, especially the time he spent working with legendary Scottish manager Jock Stein. Stein had a great impact on Ferguson and he spoke really well about the great man. Listening to his pride at being Scottish, it was no surprise to hear him saying he had no interest in ever managing the England team. He spoke about his talks with the winning European Ryder Cup team, watching the U.S. Open Tennis at Flushing Meadows and also his time spent at Harvard University which was all interesting to listen to.
Ferguson also gave his views on opposition managers, especially Dalglish, Wenger and Mourinho. He clearly wanted to avoid ever getting involved in any disputes with the younger Mourinho during his managerial career and he said several times what an intelligent man he was. Another interesting part of the interview was his account of what a gentleman and great sportsman Ottmar Hitzfeld was to him, especially after the way Ferguson’s United had beaten his Bayern Munich side in the 1999 European Cup Final.
His retirement, David Moyes and Louis van Gaal were also covered in the interview, along with the players that he missed out on signing.
Overall it was an enjoyable interview and was worth the ticket price. Dan Walker deserves credit for his interviewing of Ferguson again on the night too. Ferguson looks well and definitely seems to be keeping busy in his retirement, which is pleasing to see.
Leading by Alex Ferguson is now available to buy from all good book stores.