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Ferguson makes his final stand in spotlight; verdict.

Byline: Oliver Holt

AT first it was difficult to explain why.

As he took his place at a table yesterday and held out his book for the photographers, Sir Alex Ferguson looked smaller.

The reason that he appeared diminished was simple: the power had gone. He is a former manager now.

One of the books written about him was called The Boss and however seamlessly he has moved on with his life he can no longer be that any more.

So as Sir Alex fielded questions from China and Israel and Norway and Australia, he fought for relevance.

The first inquiry was from a woman who informed Sir Alex he had once rudely dismissed a question from one of her female colleagues.

"That's a good start," Ferguson said. "Thank you. Deary me." And from that moment he seemed fretful and ill at ease.

He wasn't confrontational. There were too many cameras around for that.

There were flickers of the old contempt. A long question from a television reporter was met with scorn.

"That's three questions," Ferguson said. "Typical Sky. Greed."

But it felt as if his heart wasn't quite in it. He was going through the motions. It wasn't the real thing.

The real thing ended when the final whistle blew at The Hawthorns last May and as Ferguson confirmed yesterday there will be no going back.

Ferguson's book and his press conference to publicise it felt like one last attempt to cheat time.

One last blast of Fergie time. One last comeback.

He said the book wasn't about settling scores but at least part of it is.

The theme of his autobiography is power and how to use it.

It is about control and the crushing of those who threaten it.

In Ferguson's case, in order of brutality, that meant Roy Keane, David Beckham and Ruud van Nistelrooy.

The book reads like a tutorial to David Moyes, a survival guide on how to trample on your enemies at a club as big as Manchester United.

Oliver Holt
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 23, 2013
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