38. A Year in the Life (The Manager’s Diary)

A few  years back, while reading the The Mixer, I stumbled on a twitter conversation where someone was asking Michael Cox how he sourced the information used in writing the book. Among others sources, he mentioned the yearly diaries that Sir Alex released at the end of some football seasons in the 1990s. I scoured the web and found a few of those diaries. The 94/95 season’s diary  called A Year in the Life made the 2021 TBR list and it was a refreshing read.

The 94/95 season was the season that Manchester United were pipped to the title by Blackburn Rovers. In this diary one journeys with Fergie as he reflects on the highs and the lows of the season. There is nothing deep in the diary but reading it almost two decades later, the insights are refreshing and also shows how far the game has changed in the last two decades. Scenes where Fergie represents youth players signing their first contracts is almost laughable; a good example was where he represented Keith Gillespie in his contract negotiation with Newcastle United as part of the deal to bring Andy Cole to Manchester United. Such scenes are virtually impossible today and laughable to boot too.

The first thing that strikes the reader is how all encompassing the Manchester United’s manager job is. Charity events to attend, meetings with agents, scouting trips, media commitments and all of that before you start considering attendance at youth team matches (something that Fergie was committed to unlike some current era managers). In A Year in the Life, one sees the evolution of Fergie’s thoughts and tactical plans. The loss to Barcelona at the Nou Camp in 1995 was a pivotal moment in his tactical evolution in Europe. This evolution was to pay dividends in the years to come but the contrast between the fast-paced risky football played in the English league and the patient probing football that Fergie learnt to adapt to in Europe was evident after that loss.

Reading this diary, one sees how Fergie handled the Andy Cole transfer, Eric Cantona’s Kung-Fu scandal and the introduction of the class of 92 into the first team squad. In all, it is an interesting read that sheds light on an era when United soared unlike now when mediocrity reigns supreme in the club. Good read.

3.1/5A Year in the Life 3A Year in the Life 2A Year in the Life 1A Year in the Life 4

10 Books Challenge

I am always late to these trends. I saw this challenge somewhere online and decided to do it, after all, there is no expiry date for these things. So, here we go!!

List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way.
Do not take more than a few minutes and do not think too hard.
They do not have to be the “right” books or great works of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way or the other.


It has to be Greg Boyd’s The Myth of a Christian Nation. It is one book that has revolutionised my Christian faith and made me rethink a lot of things that most of the church regurgitate without much thought. An excellent book that I refer to very often in my thoughts when trying to make sense of the world we live in within the context of Jesus’ kingdom here on earth.


A few years ago, I popped into Ouida Book Store with no specific intent but was determined to buy a couple of books to cheer myself up after a bad day. I did not find anything new I really wanted, so I ended up getting a copy of Black Bazaar by Alain Mabanckou. As is my pattern, I ended up reading it a year later and I thoroughly enjoyed it, despite not being too impressed by his previous works that I own.


Almost every book makes me happy in the sense that I feel nourished by the pleasure of reading the crafted thoughts of others. I struggle to pick one out of the lot. If forced, I would pick one of Nick Hornby’s titles. There was a time when the humour in most of his books cracked me up a lot. High Fidelity it is then.


Again, there are a lot of them. Due to my relative immersion into South African literature over the years, I have read a lot of South African fiction that is set in the times of Apartheid. As an outsider, it boggles the mind to reimagine how much evil was done by humans to fellow humans on account of racial differences and how natives ended up living as captives in their own land. A lot of such works of fiction left me very sad. Books like A Dry White Season by Andre Brink and Buckingham Palace’, District Six by Richard Rive. More recently, a book that has left me with very messy emotions is one I recently finished – The Bridge by Enza Gandolfo. I will go for this recent one as the sadness is still very raw.


Hands down, Tomorrow Died Yesterday by Chimeka Garrick. No one writes about my home city, Port Harcourt, as well as he does and no book reminds me of that city like this book. The city has gone backwards with unemployment and crime but it still holds a special place in my heart. This book captures the city when the decay has already begun but having left the place for decades now, the nostalgia is still well captured.


It has to be Toni Morrison’s Beloved. It seems to be universally loved but I have never disliked a book that much. I am no big fan of fantasy and magic realism but that is not why I struggled with this one. I just found it almost incomprehensible to the point of absurdity. I am probably too dense to appreciate it as most people say it is a work of a genius. I respectfully disagree while acknowledging that Ms. Morrison writes exceptionally well, this one was an awfully dragged book.


Anyone who has heard me talk about books for more than 10 minutes knows that the undisputed winner here is E. R. Braithwaite’s To Sir With Love. I first read this as a set text over 3 decades ago in high school and have reread it four more times in adulthood. Every time I read it, I see something new in it. It also takes me back to that time when I had no responsibility, was naive about life and had not gotten into this scam called adulthood.


Almost a decade back I read all the family drama fiction that Tony Parsons wrote. I enjoyed how he described streets and landmarks in the contemporary English capital. It did not just make me want to travel but made me want to have a flat in Mayfair and chill with a pint in some trendy bar in Soho while catching a play or two at theatres within the West End of London. The geographical descriptions in Man and Boy did that to me – contemporary and accessible.


I will go for an odd choice but one I thoroughly enjoyed for different reasons and I think it will suit different tastes – A Nearly Infallible History of Christianity by Nick Page. Even if you have no interest in the Christian faith, this could still appeal to a lover of history. It has a relatively unbiased view of the faith and its rigorous research is coated in a very wicked dry sense of humour. Very funny but rigorously researched book with loads of history between the laughs. I think it will make a good gift for most persons as it is an easy read too.


I struggle to think of one. My taste is fairly constant and I rarely pick up a book without having heard about it or the author or a review of it resonating with me.

The Last 10 Books Tag

I recently saw this tag on two blogs while just lazily checking a few book blogs. Do you know that lazy surfing where you go from one blog you know, follow embedded links and end up at blogs you had no idea existed? I found this tag on one of those sorts of days. I can’t even remember seeing it on Twitter, which is understandable as my orbit there is pretty small. Anyway, I enjoyed reading the tag on both blogs and decided I was going to do it when next I was bored. Today is that day.

The Last Book I Gave Up On

I rarely give up on books. Not because I believe in finishing anything I start (I have too many unfinished projects to claim such an accolade) but because I am very circumspect about the books I buy. I rarely get it wrong. However, unfinished books happen every now and again. The last book I gave up on is The Depositions. It is a book I looked forward to for so long and when I finally got around to it, it was a major disappointment. I am sure it is a good book but it just did not work for me. I do not believe that there is anyone book that must be universally loved. Reading a book is an experience that can not be replicated. You read a book thrice and come away with a unique pleasure on each occasion. It is even more unique when the reading experience is of different individuals. There are classics and critically-acclaimed titles that I will not even touch much less go past the first chapter.

The Depositions

The Last Book I Re-Read

Last year I finished my chosen TBR list a month early, so I had to decide either to pick new books off the shelf or make a random list of half a dozen books I had always wanted to re-read. There were over a dozen candidates for this list but I knew I could only finish 6 of them before the end of the year and had to whittle it down randomly. The last one I read out of that list was The Confidence Game.

The Confidence Game

The Last Book I Bought

This one is tricky as I just completed an order by paying for the content of my Amazon cart mins ago. However, I will go with the last book I bought that has been delivered into my hands – Exciting Times was delivered earlier this afternoon.

Exciting Times

The Last Book I said I Read But Didn’t

I don’t have any such book. I am never pressured to read anything I don’t want to read. I don’t belong to a book club, do not swap books and do this book thing completely solo. I don’t even have an audience to impress. Zero pressure to say I read what I did not.

The Last Book I wrote In The Margins

This is actually a criminal offence in my world. I never write in books and detest it a great deal. I actually was livid when I found out a used book I bought had highlighting and notes in the margins. Instead of notes and highlights, what I do is this – I take pictures of paragraphs and sentences that resonate with me and upload them to a folder on my system called Book Excerpts.

The Last Book I Had Signed

The author of A Broken People’s Playlist was kind enough to send me a signed copy of his book. A very thoughtful act from one Port Harcourt boy to another. The icing on the cake is that it is an excellent collection of short stories.

A Broken People's Playlist

The Last Book I Lost

I rarely lose books because I almost never give out books. I’ll rather buy you a copy of the book if you are close enough or if I feel touched by your pleas. However, I saw a gap in my bookshelf days ago. That section is filled, so it seems someone took a book out. It is hard to know which it is with almost 600 books on the shelf. I often take pics of my bookshelf but I had rearranged it since the last pics in the gallery, so the pics did not help and I am still clueless. The bookshelf is in my visitor’s room – therein lies my dilemma.

The Last Book I had To Replace

This one too has some technicality attached to it. I just ordered a new copy of Chimamanda Adiche’s Half of A Yellow Sun earlier today. Since it has not shipped, much less arrived, can I consider it replaced? The copy I currently own is worn out and looking tacky and I felt like replacing it. Discounting that and considering books that have been replaced, I gave out my copy of No Sweetness Here And Other Stories. The original had markings and highlights (it was a used copy).

No Sweetness Here

The Last Book I Argued Over

I am not sure I have ever argued about a book with anyone. I see views on Twitter that are contrary to that which I hold on books I have read but I rarely engage in such as I am too lazy to follow such arguments through to a logical conclusion. In real life, no chance for such.

The Last Book I Couldn’t Find

Same response as The Last Book I Argued Over.

So, that is a wrap. Cheers!