مقدمهکتاب: زندگینامه من- الکس فرگوسن / فصل 2
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SEVERAL years ago I began gathering my thoughts for this book, making notes in the spare time my job allowed me. It was always my plan to assemble a story that people inside and outside the game would find interesting.
So, although my retirement took the industry by surprise, this autobiography has been in my head for many years. It complements Managing My Life, an earlier volume. And therefore, while briefly reflecting on my youth in Glasgow and life-long friends made in Aberdeen, it focuses on my magical years in Manchester. An avid reader myself, I was eager to write a book that explained some of the mysteries in my line of work.
In a lifetime’s journey in football, you will have dips, lows, defeats and disappointments. In my early years at Aberdeen and Manchester United, I decided right away that in order to build trust and loyalty with the players, I had to give it to them first. That is the starting point for the bond on which great institutions thrive. I was helped by my ability to observe. Some people walk into a room and don’t notice anything. Use your eyes; it’s all out there. I used this skill in my assessment of players’ training habits, moods and behaviour patterns.
Of course I’ll miss the banter of the dressing room and all my opponents in management: those wonderful characters of the old school who were the greats of the game when I came down to United in 1986. Ron Atkinson showed no bitterness after leaving the club and had nothing but praise for us. Jim Smith is a fantastic character and a good friend. His hospitality would keep you there all night. When I did get home, my shirt would be speckled with cigar ash.
Big John Sillett, who managed Coventry City, was another great companion, and I can never forget the late John Lyall, who guided me through my early years and was so generous with his time. My first encounter with Bobby Robson was in 1981 when Aberdeen knocked out Ipswich in the UEFA Cup. Bobby came into our dressing room and shook every player’s hand. Sheer class, and his valued friendship was never forgotten. He was a big loss to our lives.
There were others of the old school who were survivors because they had a work ethic you had to admire. If I went to a reserve game, John Rudge and Lennie Lawrence would be there, along with one of the big personalities of the game whose Oldham teams brought a freshness that would never be replaced. I mean big Joe Royle. Oldham gave us some scary moments. Yes, I’ll miss all that. Harry Redknapp and Tony Pulis are other great characters of my generation.
I was blessed to have had wonderful, loyal staff at United. Some of them worked for me for over 20 years. My P.A. Lyn Laffin, has followed me into retirement and is still my P.A., in my new office; Les Kershaw, Dave Bushell, Tony Whelan and Paul McGuinness. Kath Phipps on reception, who also ran my after-match lounge at Old Trafford, has worked at United for over 40 years. Jim Ryan, who has now retired, my brother Martin who scouted abroad for 17 years (a very difficult job), and Brian McClair.
Norman Davies: what a man. A loyal friend who passed away a few years ago. His replacement as kit man, Albert Morgan, is also a big personality who never wavered in his loyalty. Our doctor, Steve McNally, our head physio Rob Swire and all his staff, Tony Strudwick and his energetic bunch of sports scientists, our laundry girls, all the kitchen staff; the general office of John Alexander, Anne Wylie and all the girls. Jim Lawlor and all his scouting staff. Eric Steele, goalkeeping coach. Simon Wells and Steve Brown of the video analysis team. Our ground staff, led by Joe Pemberton and Tony Sinclair. Our maintenance team, with Stuart, Graham and Tony: all hard-working men. There are maybe one or two I’ve missed, but I’m sure they know I respected them all.
Assistants and coaches helped me greatly down the years. Archie Knox, a real ally to me in my early years, Brian Kidd, Nobby Stiles, Eric Harrison, a truly wonderful youth coach. Steve McClaren, a very innovative and energetic coach. Carlos Queiroz and René Meulensteen – two magnificent coaches – and my assistant manager, Mick Phelan, a really shrewd, observant, true football man.
The foundation of my longevity lies with Bobby Charlton and Martin Edwards. Their biggest gift to me was the time to build a football club, rather than a football team. Their support was followed by the great bond I had with David Gill over the last decade.
There was plenty of ground to cover in this book. I hope you enjoy retracing the steps with me.
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