When Sir Alex Ferguson wrote in his autobiography that Steven Gerrard was “not a top, top player,” football fans and experts across the country already felt the former Manchester United boss had committed a glaring factual inaccuracy.
However, it seems the book features many mistakes far worse than Ferguson’s questionable opinion of Gerrard, after it was revealed My Autobiography contains as many as 45 factual errors.
David McDonnell of the Daily Mirror quotes the CEO of Hodder and Stoughton publishers, Jamie Hodder-Williams, who confessed:
We did in fact go through several stages of fact-checking with this book, with a reading from within Manchester United as well as from a specialist football fact-checker.
Although a very large number of corrections were made we plainly did not pick up everything. Possible corrections that have so far been helpfully pointed out are being checked and will be included in future reprints.
Dates are among the most common factual errors to have arisen from the book, with Ferguson often wrong when stating the year of a particular event. Of course, it is highly likely that the Scot would have expected those publishing the book to have done a thorough facts check before sending it out to a public audience.
According to McDonnell, Ferguson claims Roy Keane played for United for 11 years in the book. He actually played for 12.
The age at which Ryan Giggs is listed as making his United debut is also wrong, as is the suggestion that Jaap Stam moved to Roma instead of Lazio, per Brooks Peck of Yahoo! Sports.
Hodder-Williams vowed to offer a full refund to a customer who had raised the issue, per McDonnell’s article, but that won’t hide yet another embarrassing situation for Manchester United’s former manager.
Ferguson was mocked by both Brendan Rodgers and Gerrard for his claim that the Liverpool skipper was not a top, top player.
Gerrard recently responded, in an interview with Dominic King of the Daily Mail, by saying: “107 caps isn’t bad for someone who isn’t a top, top player, is it?"
Meanwhile, Rodgers said of Ferguson’s opinion, per Timothy Abraham of the Telegraph: “I think Sir Alex is one of the very few, if not the only one, who thinks Steven’s not a top player.”
Ferguson also drew the wrath of former United favourite Keane, whom he accused of being a negative influence at Old Trafford, per Phil McNulty of BBC Sport.
Keane replied on ITV, quoted by McNulty, saying:
I just don't think the manager needs to do it. I'm not sure how many books he's written now. But he has to draw the line eventually and say, 'Listen, these players have all been top servants to Manchester United'. A lot of these players helped the manager win lots of trophies.
The overriding feeling left over from Ferguson’s book is that it lacked class. By attacking former players, like Keane, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Owen Hargreaves, the Scot has derided players who remain heroes at Old Trafford.
No football fan wants to see club legends—players they have worshipped—dragged through the mud, yet Ferguson felt the need to do that.
The honesty is to be admired and it certainly makes a difference from the plethora of dull autobiographies released by sportsmen and women, but Ferguson’s book has tainted his image upon retirement.
The latest revelation of factual errors merely adds further blemish to an already imperfect book that, sales aside, has hardly set the standard for others to follow.