Sir Alex Ferguson has warned ahead of the publication of his autobiography on Wednesday that he cannot duck the controversies surrounding his decision to get Ruud van Nistelrooy and David Beckham out of Manchester United because of their significance in the club’s history.
Ferguson explained in some detail during his interview with Charlie Rose on America’s Public Broadcasting Service three weeks ago how he felt that Victoria Beckham was fundamental to her husband’s fall out with him. But Ferguson’s own precise account of the 2003 “flying boot” episode remains one of the most keenly anticipated sections of the autobiography which will dominate this week’s football news. Another is the deterioration of his relationship with Van Nistelrooy, who was also sold to Real Madrid after Ferguson became disenchanted with his star striker’s attitude. Van Nistelrooy clashed with Cristiano Ronaldo in training and with the manager over tactics and team selection.
“You know the problem with doing a book is you have to bring in the elements and factors which in many ways either affected or determined your management decision-making. Because I’ve been at the club such a long time and you are building team after team after team, there are areas that you can’t ignore: [like] why we sold certain players like David Beckham and Ruud van Nistelrooy,” Ferguson said. “You can’t ignore these things because these guys were big, big figures in Manchester United’s career history.”
It does not seem that Ferguson has ceded any ground to those stars, in his new book. “During all [this] time, we’ve only had one manager and that one manager is given the duties of managing the club the right way. I felt I managed it the right way, dealing with the situations,” he added.
Ferguson’s interview with United’s in-house TV station, the latest of many pre-publication interviews, revealed that he will explain in the book that Jaap Stam’s sale to Lazio in 2001 – which the ex-manager has always admitted was a mistake – was a result of an irresistible offer from the Italians, rather that the Dutchman alleging in his autobiography that Ferguson had approached him about joining United without the permission of his previous club PSV Eindhoven. “Someone came and offered me the money and I thought about the money for the club. I shouldn’t have.”
Ferguson has also said that United’s misfortune of losing both him and ex-chief executive David Gill at the same time was a result of the two resolving to go before telling each other. He describes Gill telephoning on a Sunday in late February, to ask “Are you busy?” in an attempt to visit the manager at his home. “He came over to talk to me about him retiring himself. I say ‘Christ I’ve made up my mind to retire myself at the end of the season.’ That gave me a terrible quandary because you start thinking about leaving the club in the lurch. I said ‘I’ll need to speak to Mr [Joel] Glazer.” But Glazer squared for both men to leave at the same time.
Ferguson’s successor David Moyes has denied being too cautious in substituting Wayne Rooney for Chris Smalling, leaving him short of firepower when Southampton equalised after 86 minutes at Old Trafford on Saturday. “I didn’t think that at all,” Moyes said. “We didn’t take the two forwards off. We kept them on. We brought Danny Welbeck on [for Nani] and Ryan Giggs on [for Marouane Fellaini]” Moyes said.
Rio Ferdinand was missing for the 1-1 draw because of an unspecified slight injury and Nemanja Vidic will probably have recovered from a calf injury to face Real Sociedad in midweek – though since he did not train throughout last week, his place in the starting line-up is in some doubt.