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Review: Squeaky Bum Time

squeakybumtimeDaniel Taylor is a football writer and the Guardian's Manchester United correspondent. Once described by Ferguson as looking more akin to "the bass player out of oasis" than a football writer, he has been covering Man Utd since 2000. This is his second book, a compilation of quotes from Ferguson over the years. Click read more to see the full review.

He’s the top man, a really nice person and he deserves to be the boss. Maybe when I am 60 the kids will call me the same.” Mourinho on Ferguson.

Now 69 and Ferguson is still going and shows no signs of letting up. No doubt by the time he does retire Daniel Taylor could fill another book with Fergie’s quotes. If you are looking for an insightful look into Sir Alex Ferguson’s life and career look elsewhere. This is a light hearted, pick up-put down sort of book, it does however show Ferguson from his many different angles. For a man who has coined a term that is now in the Oxford English Dictionary there is as you’d expect no shortage of classic quips and raging rants.


The book is split into 13 chapters, each chapter spanning a different part of Fergie’s career, from when he first made a name for himself at Aberdeen, through to the various challenges he’s faced during his managerial career at Manchester United.


One of my favourite chapters is “The midges and the rats”, otherwise known as the media. His relationship with the media often resembles a cat toying with a mouse. Ferguson can sometimes be amiable to some banter, prime example being when he told journalists “never try to read the mind of a madman” when they were trying to guess the line up for a European game. Other times it can be a more prickly affair for the journalist who dare cross the line that day...when asked whether he would go to the 2002 World Cup he replied “None of your business! Do I ask if you’re still going to those fucking gay clubs?”


Ferguson’s affiliation with other managers is, at least in the press, a hot cold situation. Widely known for his role in the LMA he is always vocal in his support for managers and known to be the first one to pick up the phone to offer advice or support to one of his fellow managers. However, things are not always been so rosy. When Wenger first came to the Premiership, Ferguson was quoted as saying “He’s a novice – and he should keep his opinions to Japanese football”, Mourinho too received a mixed review from Fergie, who once claimed “He has no respect for anyone but himself”. Although Mourinho and Ferguson now enjoy a good relationship – often in the close vicinity of a good bottle of wine, Wenger and Ferguson have never become so close although the initial hostility has now cooled. “Arsene Wenger is somebody I’d like to get to know better. People who do know him tell me he is a good man but I don’t suppose I’ll ever find out myself. He seems to pull the shutters down when you meet him and he never has a drink with you after the game”. His opinions of Benitez, Southgate and Keegan I’ll leave you to read for yourself.


As I mentioned earlier there are many sides to Ferguson, one side that is less often seen is the vulnerability he occasionally shares. Start talking about retirement and you’re more likely to see it though, since his backtrack on retirement all those years ago his worry of quitting and subsequently losing his health appears to be a key motivator for staying on as manager. His memory of his dad being diagnosed with cancer a week after he retired is one often heard story...


“There are too many examples of people who retire and are in their box soon after. Because you’ve taking away the very thing that makes you alive, that keeps you alive. I remember my dad had his 65th birthday and the Fairfields shipyard gave him a dinner in Glasgow with 400 people there. The next week my mother phones and said, “Your dad’s going in for an X-ray, he has pains in his chest”. I said, “It’ll be emotion”. Well, it was cancer. A week. One week.”


I think, it would surprise few, if Ferguson is carried out of Old Trafford in his box one day such is his commitment and love for the game. However, not to end this review on a sad note, I will finish with a quote which seems very applicable for the time of the year we’re in now:


“I get the papers every morning and I have a good laugh about them. I get my cup of tea. I look at what you’ve written. I get an aspirin to make sure I get over it. And then I go about my day’s work...still laughing”.

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