In Depth

Ferguson lifts lid on Moyes at Man U: is he covering his back?

Revised version of Fergie's memoir appears designed to preserve his reputation say critics

Alex Ferguson

Another week, another controversial sporting autobiography. This time round it is an updated version of former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson's memoir in which the Old Trafford legend has his say on the disastrous reign of David Moyes, annointed as his successor in the summer of 2013 and sacked nine months later.

Ferguson's verdict appears damning as he says that Moyes simply "hadn't realised just how big United is as a club" and failed to play in the right way.

In the new passages, Ferguson attempts to dispel the widespread belief that he was the driving force behind the appointment of Moyes. "Surely people don't really believe the Glazer family would allow the new manager to be chosen by one person. There appears to be an accepted view out there that was no process. Nonsense."

At the same time, he makes it clear that he had little or nothing to do with the decision to get rid of him in April, explaining that he was in Aberdeen the day the guillotine fell.

Ferguson also takes issue with claims that Moyes was hamstrung from the outset by a badly assembled squad and outdated methods at Old Trafford. "Antiquated was a bizarre description of the structure I left behind at Manchester United. Have you seen our new training ground?" he asks. The former manager also blames Moyes for playing at too slow a tempo, while pointing out that his squad was no older than Chelsea's current group.

There is sympathy for Moyes – Ferguson describes "the walls squeezing in, leaving David with less and less room to breathe" – but the new passages can be seen as "self-serving" says Ian Herbert of The Independent, "an exercise in the preservation of a reputation".

In the new passages "Ferguson is protective of his own legacy", agrees James Ducker in The Times.

From what he writes about his role in the hiring and firing of Moyes it is clear that Ferguson "plainly has nothing like his old influence at Old Trafford", says Daniel Taylor of The Guardian.

"Yet there are still plenty of unresolved issues. Not once does he tackle the million-dollar question about whether, in hindsight, he considers it a mistake [to hire Moyes] on his part."

Admissions that he was in contact with some players during Moyes's reign stray "dangerously close to Sir Matt Busby and Frank O’Farrell territory – exactly what Ferguson said would never happen".

And Taylor adds: "Ferguson is so effusive in his praise of Van Gaal that it inadvertently re-ignites the issue of why he had felt Moyes had superior credentials the previous year."

Are any of Ferguson's clarifications necessary? Looking back it is clear that Moyes was not up to the job, concludes Ian Herbert of the Independent. "No new testimony to that fact was necessary. The more graceful course of action would have been to leave events and results to tell their own story."

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