London: David Beckham thought he was too big for Manchester United and later surrendered part of his career by moving to the US to play for LA Galaxy, Alex Ferguson said in his autobiography ‘My Autobiography’, published on Tuesday.
During a time of huge change in the football landscape, the one constant to emerge was Ferguson’s vice-like grip on authority in the face of the big egos and even bigger salaries of those under his command. He was regularly challenged but invariably emerged on top.
“I couldn’t lose control of players if I wanted to remain at United,’’ said Ferguson. “The manager is the most important person at United.’’
Beckham’s relationship with Ferguson damaged irrecoverably after an FA Cup defeat by Arsenal in 2003 after which the latter kicked a boot at Beckham after he was “dismissive of my criticism”.
“David was the only player I managed who chose to be famous, who made it his mission to be known outside the game,” Ferguson wrote in a chapter devoted to Beckham. “I felt uncomfortable with the celebrity aspect of his life.”
“The minute a Manchester United player thought he was bigger than the manager he had to go,” Ferguson said. “David thought he was bigger than Alex Ferguson. It doesn’t matter whether it's Alex Ferguson or Pete the Plumber. The authority is what counts.
“You cannot have a player taking over the dressing room. That was the death knell for him.”
Wayne Rooney came close to leaving in 2010 when he said he would not sign a new contract because the club did not share his ambition. “Wayne said we should have pursued Mesut Ozil who had joined Real Madrid from Werder Bremen. My reply was that it was none of his business. I told him it was his job to play and perform.”
While Ferguson says Rooney “has a gift for producing great moments” his highest praise is reserved for Ronaldo. Cristiano was the most gifted player I managedů He was our wizard,” wrote Ferguson. “He surpassed all the other great ones I coached at United — and I had many.”