Film Reviews

Sir Alex Ferguson: Never Give In – Documentary Review

“It’s a fact of life that where we come from is important.” 

In 2018, one of the greatest managers in club football, Sir Alex Ferguson, was faced with one of his toughest challenges in life: recovering from a brain haemorrhage. Assisted by his son, Jason Ferguson, Sir Alex’s road to recovery is captured by Jason as the basis for a documentary that not only explores the incident and his recovery, but examines the fight, strength and courage behind The Boss.  

Opening with a wholesome yet fun “quiz” between father and son, Sir Alex Ferguson: Never Give In initially presents an array of archival audio from both the news and 999 call, immediately contextualising the incident involving Sir Alex, and the severity of it. Subsequently, this in-depth, intimate and heartfelt documentary explores the upbringing of Sir Alex in the tough Scottish setting of Govan, through to meeting his wife Cathy and signing for Rangers as a player, then onto his time at managing Aberdeen, his early years at Manchester United, and then finalising with his greatest career triumph: The Treble in 1999. 

    
    

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As a documentary, quite often, Never Give In switches between centring around Sir Alex and Sir Alex’s football teams. This film could quite easily fall into the trap of recycling footage and information of sporting achievements (for example, the success of Manchester United, especially in the 90s, has been very well documented), but because of the insight offered by Sir Alex and others, including former players Gordon Strachan and Eric Cantona, the ups and downs in football are presented in a new, refreshing light. The history of the man and the manager presented in excellent archival imagery – most of which looks terrifically restored – makes for a fascinating viewing from start to finish.

With a managerial career lasting almost 40 years, and a lifetime of recollection and memories, at no point does Never Give In feel rushed or, in context, insufficiently glossing over important details. Instead, through the surprisingly unbiased lens of his son Jason, Sir Alex is captured in almost never-before-seen raw emotion. Especially when recollecting the early days of marriage and subsequent troubles at Rangers, we see a familiar fiery presence, but in a totally new light. On the flipside, a sincere and touchingly emotional gratitude is present during his recollection of the haemorrhage and the recovery. Thanks to those at Salford Royal, Sir Alex overcame an 80% chance of not recovering, and his survival from an extremely vulnerable position is something which not only he, but his family, friends, and fans, are clearly in great admiration of. 

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Never Give In is the ultimate tribute from son-to-father. Importantly, though this documentary will be adored and cherished by Manchester United fans all over the world, this isn’t a film that is solely for them. This isn’t about a team, it’s about a man. Jason Ferguson has successfully created a wonderful, heartfelt documentary that pushes boundaries and explores new territory of an already well documented figure. Sir Alex Ferguson is not only a great football manager, he’s a great man. Full of fight, spirit, and always eager to overcome the odds, and – like his great team of 1999 – Sir Alex’s legacy is that he’ll never give in.

Sir Alex Ferguson: Never Give In is in UK cinemas from 27th May, and on Amazon Prime Video in the UK and Ireland from 29th May. Cinema tickets are available from www.siralexfergusonfilm.com.

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