Soccer Documentary Review : United 2011

On 6th February, a plane crashed during its third attempt at taking off from the Munich International Airport. The plane was hired by Manchester United as they went ahead with their European tie against Red Star Belgrade, a match they had won, and were on their way back to clinch their league title at home. However, fate had something else planned. That day 23 of the club’s personnel were found dead out of which 8 were first team players including Duncan Edwards; the crash also left the charismatic manager of the club – Sir Matt Busby injured. As the people of Manchester wept, the whole football fraternity did too.

The movie: The movie starts off with Sir Bobby Charlton trying to make the first team of the club and when he gets his chance, he proves to be a wonderful addition to the team. Jack O’Connell plays Sir Bobby Charlton’s character and does due justice to it. He acts effortlessly and portrays ‘survivor’s guilt’ in a realistic and true manner from which Charlton actually suffered.

The movie is mainly seen from Jimmy Murphy’s perspective as he tries to gather the club together after the crash. David Tennant plays Jimmy Murphy and pardon my French here, but god damn, that man can act. He does a brilliant job in getting across the message and anyone who has ever watched football, even for 5 seconds will understand the very predicament Murphy goes through and Tennant gets that across perfectly.

Tenant acts as though he himself is in the very situation that Jimmy Murphy once was in and that is what makes the movie so very powerful. A particular scene where Jimmy Murphy goes to the hospital in Germany to see his players and soon after meeting Duncan Edwards and Bobby Charlton, he goes to the hospital staircase and lets out the saddest cry in the history of cries encapsulates just how much the staff and the club suffered.

Another scene that describes the movie very well is Murphy convincing the board to let Manchester United play and not be shut down – this scene is the very root of the movie, the movie thrives on important speeches and this one is the best. Murphy talks about just how important the reclamation of the club is and how he will personally see to it that it succeeds and oh, it did.

Other characters like Duncan Edwards and Matt Busby were portrayed well too, with emotional scenes all across the floor that’ll have the toughest of football fans weeping in seconds. Duncan Edwards was one of the most promising English players and his death was hard on the country and the club and that has been portrayed beautifully.

Edwards was good friends with Sir Bobby Charlton and this friendship is portrayed in the form of Sir Bobby feeling a certain guilt on why he survived and Duncan died. A scene where he throws out all his medals and trophies along with a rugged old football symbolizes this perfectly. However, Bobby Charlton soon realized that football is what he’s meant to do and hurries back to the field to put on his boots.

The last scene in particular makes people shed a few tears as Murphy looks across his new playing XI and can’t help but imagine the old times as hope lets out a sigh and says ‘go on, boys!’

All in all, this movie should be watched by every football fan and especially Manchester United fans and is also recommended to non-football fans to learn just how much a sport can mean to so many people and unite them when really needed.

Rating: 5/5.

Leading by Alex Ferguson: Soccer Book Review

Leading: Learning from Life and My Years at Manchester United

Rating: 3.5/5 A solid book underlying how to be successful in business and life with Sir Alex Ferguson’s hugely successful career highlights and sometimes low-lights providing the evidence


Sir Alex Ferguson – a Manchester United and indeed football management legend underlines his leadership philosophy in a lot of detail using real life stories, anecdotes and successes and failures in this easy to read book.

He brings you upto date with parts of his career which you might not be familiar with. In Scotland he of course managed Aberdeen to a famous Cup Winner’s Cup Final victory over Real Madrid. But we learn about the clubs he managed before this and the mistakes and lessons he learnt.

Some Surprising Points about his philosophy

The media liked to portray Ferguson as someone aggressive and scary – ready to give the ‘hairdryer’ treatment to his players. The media is quick to portray or remind everyone about the incident which allegedly led David Beckham to leave Manchester United.

However, Ferguson in his book ensures us that that was not his style and that it is very difficult to lead through fear. He had to learn how to handle each player individually. One of the things he said he tried to do was to learn about each player’s own upbringing. And he was especially careful not to stress out young players or those more sensitive to too much criticism. In fact he says that any leader no matter how quiet they might be just by the very fact that they control the paychecks and indeed employment futures of their employees can automatically be feared just because of that. And a raised eyebrow to someone or a gesture which may appear meaningless to that person could terrify the employee.

What is great about this book is that you don’t need to be particularly interested in business or leading. There is so much general interest and going behind the scenes.

We learn about Ferguson’s working class roots and why the difficult times he faced as a child meant the rough and tumble of the dugout was relatively easy to deal with. And why working class players are those likely to make it because for many players they don’t have the distractions middle class children have e.g. of academia or University. Their sole focus is football.

The importance of discipline

Ferguson has a couple of chapters on this. And how he drills into his players discipline. He said the lack of discipline is why his Manchester United side lost to Barcelona in the Champions League Finals of 2009 and especially 2011. Some players lost their heads and the team lost its shape. He tried to drill into players the need to think with their heads and not lose themselves to their emotions. So structure was important.

World Class Players

One of the most interesting points in the book is how Ferguson believes there are currently only two world class payers playing the game. Messi and Ronaldo. Everyone else is a level below this. Well there are players such as Suarez and Thomas Mueller who are excellent but not at Messi and Ronaldo’s level. He outlines all the criteria he gives as to what makes a world class player.

Relationships with Players

One really interesting thing is how Ferguson was always thinking years ahead with his team and changing the team around every 3 to 4 years with younger players, youth team players and so on. He would be ruthless in this although still compassionate to those who had served the team. And always ready to get rid of troublemakers.

At the same time you cannot get too close to the players as it doesn’t work.

His philosophy was always to pay players what they were worth. And he feels that very few players actually need agents. Most could just hire a lawyer on an hourly basis because the agents want to make as much money for themselves typically.


Well worth a read if you like Manchester United or Alex Ferguson or are interested in personal and business development. Very accessible.

There is also a lot more than I mentioned here. His relationship with technology and data analysis, his succession with David Moyes and Luis Van Gaal, his relationships with the greats at Manchester United including Eric Cantona and Bobby Charlton and much, much more.

Soccer Movie Review: Looking For Eric

Looking for Eric

Rating: 4.5/5 Amazing, heart warming, touching and deep movie which takes you through modern day Manchester, Manchester United and the eternal Eric Cantona


This movie was made by the legendary Ken Loach, the respected British film maker. He is well known for football films including the classic Kes movie with a superb football scene.

This movie at first is pretty dark. We see the world through the eyes of an ageing working class postman in Manchester. His life is falling part. He suffers from mental illness, he is barely holding onto his job, his personal life is in tatters and his step children are involved in the grimy side of Manchester life – gangs and drugs.

There is one savior though – Eric Cantona! We learn just how much Manchester United fans even today love and respect Cantona. After all Cantona was the missing link which brought the Premier League trophy back to Old Trafford.

It gets dark before the storm

Ken Loach is simply a master storyteller. He drags you in emotionally. You see this shell of a man with only Eric Cantona – is it really him or just the vision of a delusional man keeping him going.

We also learn a lot about the culture of football in Manchester with some fans annoyed with the commercialism in the Premier League and therefore supporting the FC Manchester of United club. A club by the fans of the fans.

However, they can never really leave the relationship with the Red Devils. This is seen in one of the my favorite moments in the movie – a really comedic scene which you will love as well.

The Rousing Comeback


Wow. The ending has to be seen to be believed and even years later I remember it strongly. One of the best ever endings to a movie. Where local people come together against almost insurmountable odds.

I wonder if this is what Alex Ferguson teaches in his book ‘Leading’.

We also get a lot of Eric Cantona’s Gallic wisdom including his full press conference after being suspended for attacking a fan during a game.


Highly recommend this movie even if you are not a Man U fan. It is always engaging and emotionally grabs you through hopelessness to well – I’ll let you find out for yourself!

Manchester United: Top 5 signings of the Premier League era

[tps_header]Manchester United have been synonymous to success ever since the inception of the Premier League back in 1992 and the man who unsurprisingly deserves most of the credit for turning the Red Devils into a winning machine is the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson.


In his glorious reign as manager of the club, United managed to claim a whopping 13 Premier League titles and in turn, became the most successful side in the history of English football.

Having brought so much success to United, Fergie’s management skills were second to none but one also has to attribute his wonderful eye for talent as one of the greatest strengths of the Scotsman. Ferguson made a host of brilliant signings during his time as United manager and here is our pick of the top 5.[/tps_header]

5. Roy Keane – £3.75m from Nottingham Forest


Via – Wikimedia Commons

Roy Keane and Ferguson may not be on the best of terms at the moment but there is no denying the fact that the Irish midfielder was one of the greatest players to have donned the United jersey in the Ferguson era.

A midfield hardman who never compromised with commitment, heart and spirit, Keane made more than 450 appearances for the Red Devils during his decade long stay at the club and he captained the Red Devils in arguably their most successful period in the Premier League.

Bought for a measly £3.75million from Nottingham Forest, it is fair to say that Keane was well worth the money United splashed out on him and although the ex-Manchester United man has become Ferguson’s fierce enemy, he is still welcomed warmly by the Red Devils’ faithful.

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Manchester United Legends: Sir Matt Busby

[tps_header]Sir Alex Ferguson is widely regarded as the greatest ever Manchester United manager of all time but his success would not have been possible if it were not for a fellow Scotsman – Sir Matt Busby.


Via – Wikimedia Commons

While Ferguson may have turned Manchester United into the superpower they are currently today, Busby laid the foundations for the Red Devils to succeed and in over two decades as manager, the brilliant Scotsman revolutionized the club.

A hero to many greats of the modern game, Busby epitomized humility, courage and dignity and such qualities remain rare in football nowadays.[/tps_header]


Busby was born on 26th May, 1909 to parents Alexander and Nellie Busby in a mining village. His father, Alexander, was a coal miner and as a youngster, Matt used to travel to the pits alongside him.

However rather than mining, Busby fell in love with football at a very early age and had aspirations to take up the game professionally.

A young Busby had to deal with tragedy early on in his life as he lost his father in 1917 after he was killed during the First World War while serving as a soldier.

With Busby having encountered tragedy at such a young age, it looked like he would have to give up on his dreams of becoming a footballer in favour for a more stable income and consequently, he took up a full time job in the mining industry.

However, Busby was not about to give up on his footballing dream and also played part time for Stirlingshire side Denny Hibs. While playing for Hibs, Busby earned his big break as English side Manchester City snapped him up as an 18-year old.

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