Sir Alex Ferguson's new autobiography has succeeded in offending his former players and rivals. Whether that's good or bad depends on who's reading, but it's happened and now some of his subjects are not taking kindly to his views of them. The following is a countdown of who is probably least upset with Ferguson and his book to who is most upset. It should be noted, however, that no formal, scientific hate scale was used here, so the rankings should be seen as estimates only. Everyone mentioned might actually dislike Ferguson far more than their rankings show.
7. David Beckham (Man United midfielder 1993-2003)
What Ferguson said about him: In addition to telling the famous story of how he kicked at boot at Beckham's head in the dressing room and concluding, "David thought he was bigger than Alex Ferguson. There is no doubt about that in my mind," Ferguson also wrote that Posh Spice pretty much ruined Beckham's chance to fulfill his potential.
"He fell in love with Victoria and that changed everything."
“I hold no rancour towards David at all. I like him. He’s a wonderful boy. But you should never surrender what you’re good at.
"He lost the chance to become an absolute top-dog player ... he never attained the level of an absolute top player… He started to make decisions that rendered it hard for him to develop into a really great footballer. That was the disappointment for me. There was no animosity between us, just disappointment, for me. Dejection. I would look at him and think ‘What are you doing, son?’…
(What we imagine is) Beckham's response: Since Beckham is genetically engineered for corporate likability and thus incapable of maintaining negative feelings for more than a few seconds at a time, he'd probably just say, "Pepsi: Live for now!" or something.
6. Mark Bosnich (Man United goalkeeper 1989-91 and 1999-2001)
What Ferguson said about him: The Scot was harsh on the retired Australian goalkeeper, labeling him "a terrible professional." Ferguson explained...
"We played down at Wimbledon and Bosnich was tucking into everything: sandwiches, soups, steaks. He was going through the menu."I told him, ’For Christ’s sake, Mark, we’ve got the weight off you. Why are you tucking into all that stuff?
"We arrived back in Manchester, and Mark was on mobile phone to a Chinese restaurant to order a takeaway.
"Is there no end to you?" I just couldn’t make an impact on him."
Bosnich's response: To his credit, Bosnich offered a concise rebuttal and even encouraged people to read the book and form their own opinions. He said (via the Sydney Morning Herald):
‘‘The fact remains that I was the only player he signed twice at Manchester United. In my first season there we won the English Premier League by a record 18 points, which still stands today, and we became the first British team to win the World Club Championship against Palmeiras in Tokyo.’’
‘‘I’m honoured to be mentioned in Sir Alex Ferguson’s biography. He’s entitled to his opinion.’’
It's unclear if Bosnich was eating soup wrapped in a steak as he said this.
5. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool and England captain)
What Ferguson said about him: "I am one of the few who felt Gerrard was not a top, top player. When Scholes and Keane were in our team, Gerrard seldom had a kick against us.” But just to make sure Gerrard didn't feel too bad, Ferguson said Frank Lampard is "a marvellous servant for Chelsea, but I didn’t think of him as an elite international footballer."
(What we imagine is) Gerrard's response: "I've punched DJs older than you, Ferguson!"
4. Rafa Benitez (Liverpool manager 2004-2010)
What Ferguson said about him: On Benitez's famous "facts" rant about Ferguson's privilege in the Premier League, Sir Alex wrote, "Once you made it personal, you had no chance. Benitez was striving for trophies while also taking me on. That was unwise." But that was only the beginning.
"He displayed no interest in forming friendships with other managers: a danger policy, because there would have been plenty from lesser clubs who would have loved to share a drink and learn from him. Benitez had more regard for defending and destroying a game than winning it. You can’t be totally successful these days with that approach.
"I found Liverpool hard to watch when he was manager there. I found them dull. It was a surprise to me that Chelsea called him."
(What we imagine is) Benitez's response: "The jerk store called...they're all out of you!"
3. Wayne Rooney (Man United striker)
What Ferguson said about him: Despite Rooney's claims to the contrary, Ferguson again asserted that the striker asked to leave Man United at the end of last season. He also added that the Rooney "had lost some of his old thrust" and "struggled more and more to do it for 90 minutes." Finally, he called the 27-year-old's mental abilities into question by writing, "In my opinion he was not the quickest learner but what he had was a natural instinct to play the game. In a training ground exercise he wouldn’t absorb new ideas or methods quickly."
Rooney's response: Just look at his eyes when asked about the book after Man United's 1-0 Champions League win against Real Sociedad...
Clearly the mere thought of Ferguson makes Wayne so angry that his hair is in very real danger of spontaneous combustion.
2. Roy Keane (Man United midfielder 1993-2005)
What Ferguson said: "The hardest part of Roy's body is his tongue. He has the most savage tongue you can imagine. He can debilitate the most confident person in the world in seconds with that tongue. What I noticed about him that day as I was arguing with him was that his eyes started to narrow, almost to wee black beads. It was frightening to watch. And I’m from Glasgow."
And: "I believe - and [former first team coach] Carlos Queiroz was at one with me on this - that Roy Keane's behavior pattern changed when he realized he was no longer the Roy Keane of old. I think he could see the truth of what we were saying to him, but to surrender to it was too threatening to his pride. He thought he was Peter Pan."
You do not call Roy Keane "Peter Pan." If you want to live.
Keane's reaction: The Irishman happened to be working as a pundit on ITV the night the quotes were published, so his thoughts were fresh. "I do remember having conversations with the manager when I was at the club about loyalty and, in my opinion, I don't think he knows the meaning of the word," he said.
"It doesn't bother me too much what he has to say about me but to constantly criticize other players at the club who brought him a lot of success, I find very very strange.
"But I won't be losing any sleep over it."
He might make sure that Ferguson does, though.
1. David Moyes (Ferguson's successor and current Man United manager)
What Ferguson said about him: Nothing terribly inflammatory.
(What we imagine is) Moyes' response: "Please go away, Sir. You're not making this any easier. I can feel your breath on my neck. Even when I'm on the toilet."
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