The former Manchester United boss (from 1986-2013) devoted a chapter to Beckham, whom he calls a “marvelous boy,” and admits his former starlet became bigger than the club.
When reporters asked Ferguson about his criticism of the former England captain at Tuesday’s book launch—per Owen Gibson of The Guardian—the Scot told the press conference, “He fell in love with Victoria and that changed everything. I am a football man. If he had asked my advice when he left Real Madrid for LA Galaxy I would have told him exactly what I thought."
He added, "How can you argue with how he has turned out. He worked to get to the point where he became a great player.”
Ferguson says Beckham "surrendered a part of his career" by joining LA Galaxy: "I felt uncomfortable with the celebrity aspect of his life"— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) October 22, 2013
The recently retired, 71-year-old Ferguson, who began his managerial career back in 1974, also touched on the now infamous locker-room bust-up with Beckham after a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal in the FA Cup. Ferguson admitted to the fact he clocked Beckham above the eye with a boot struck from 12 feet away, but it was Beckham’s reaction that most irked his manager.
The midfielder arrived to training the next day with an Alice band pulling back his hair, revealing the damage caused by Ferguson’s anger, and that was the start of the end of Beckham’s time at Old Trafford.
As Gibson reports, Ferguson writes, "David thought he was bigger than Alex Ferguson. There is no doubt about that in my mind."
Ferguson also used his pen in scathing fashion when talking about rivals Liverpool and the way they handled the Luis Suarez affair.
According to John Cross of the Mirror, Ferguson branded Liverpool’s behaviour as “ridiculous.”
Fergie turned down England job twice. Great stuff on Gerrard, damning on Liverpool over Suarez and batters Benitez. It's a great read— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) October 22, 2013
Ferguson’s left-back Patrice Evra and Luis Suarez had exchanged words during a Premier League meeting between the two teams, and Suarez was adjudged to have used racial language during the confrontation, for which he received a lengthy ban.
Liverpool players demonstrated their disapproval of the ban by wearing T-shirts in support of their controversial Uruguayan teammate.
Per Cross, Ferguson wrote:
Liverpool wore those T-shirts supporting Suarez, which I thought was the most ridiculous thing for a club of Liverpool's stature.
I think Kenny (Dalglish) was falling back on the chip on the shoulder. The problem I felt was there was no Peter Robinson at Liverpool. He would never have allowed the situation to be handled like it was.
The young directors there idolised Kenny and there was no-one to say: "Hey, behave yourself, this is out of order, this is Liverpool Football Club."
Ferguson has always had a troubled relationship with Liverpool fans, famously saying, per Graeme York of the Daily Mail, that his greatest challenge “was knocking Liverpool right off their f***ing perch,” but he will have annoyed them further with his comments about Steven Gerrard.
Per a separate article from Cross in the Mirror, Ferguson writes, “I’m one of the few who felt Gerrard was not a top, top player.”
The Scot did, however, add that signing Gerrard would have been a dream:
Could you imagine me going to bed at night having taken Gerrard off Liverpool?
Along with Graeme Souness, he's probably the best midfield player Liverpool have ever had, although I have Souness just above them all.
Former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is another of those who won’t be on Sir Alex’s Christmas mailing list. The pair exchanged a war of words in early 2009, when Benitez lashed out in his famous rant about facts, as per The Guardian.
Per Matthew Dunn in the Express, Ferguson labelled the current Napoli manager “a control freak” and that his outburst made their rivalry “personal.”
However, the player who received the bulk of Ferguson’s wrath was his former skipper Roy Keane.
The Irishman ran the midfield at Manchester United for over a decade, famously inspiring them to victory over Juventus in the Champions League semifinal in 1999 after he had already picked up a yellow card that ruled him out of the final, which Manchester United famously went on to win.
Keane was shown the exit door after making scathing comments to MUTV about some teammates, which, according to Matthew Dunn in the Express, Ferguson called a “disgrace” and a “joke.”
At Tuesday’s press conference, per Ed Malyon in the Mirror, Ferguson told the assembled media that Keane “overstepped” the mark:
I'm sure some of you will have seen the video of the interview. But we couldn't release it. It was horrendous. It resulted in two young players being booed before the next game. If I'd have let it pass then I think the players would have judged me differently.
Roy overstepped the mark. We did well by him. Paid up his contract, gave him testimonial and honoured one of our great players.
Thoughts go out to Adrian Chiles who has to ask Roy Keane tonight for his reaction to the Ferguson book. I'd do it in a suit of armour.— Iain Macintosh (@iainmacintosh) October 22, 2013
In the book, Ferguson also discusses the infamous “Pizzagate,” stomaching Manchester City’s success, handling the media, the FA, Ruud van Nistelrooy and how he told Wayne Rooney to mind his own business when the Englishman asked him to sign Mesut Ozil.
Follow this live tracker for more detailed analysis of the book.