Sir Alex Shows Us the Passion

Article excerpt

How has the job of managing come to be seen as a chore or an impossibility?

One of the odd things I'm often asked after confessing to a stranger that my trade is journalism is, 'which celebrities have you interviewed?' I normally mumble something about Schumacher (earnest and straight), Rudolph Giuliani (cock-sure), Pink Floyd (remarkably civilised), Simon Le Bon (wife did all the talking) and Rowan Atkinson (said nothing). Then I add that celebrities are actually often quite dull, and, in fact, ordinary people are usually far more compelling and have the best stories to tell.

Well, as you've noticed this month, we have one of the most celebrated managers in the world on the cover - Sir Alex Ferguson. Dull he isn't.

Ferguson is a remarkable individual and fiercely defended by those who surround him. Ours was a rare audience. Manchester United guards what it owns with great care - one of the reasons it is the most commercially successful football club in the world. (Only twice before has our photographer had conditions so onerous placed on his work and that was when he was snapping Kylie Minogue and Demi Moore.)

In the flesh, Sir Alex is calm, thoughtful, but not lacking in strong opinions about how things need to be done on and off the field. The key to him is his unwavering passion, still burning at 63, and his all-consuming desire to win. The intensity of his relationships with his players is unlike that between manager and employee in any orthodox business. …