Not many people are lucky enough to say they’ve worked closely with the likes of Jose Mourinho, Sir Alex Ferguson and Herbert Chapman, but Patrick Barclay’s flourishing career has seen him delve into both the professional and personal lives of these legendary managers, amongst many others. 

The acclaimed journalist, who has written several biographies for footballing heroes, knows exactly what it takes to complete the gruelling process of writing a book.

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He told UCFB: “You need an interest in an affinity in your subject, because you’re going to be immersed in it for one year. Six months if you’re a fast worker, two years if you work at my pace!”

He added: “It’s got to be a labour of love, and to an extent the four I wrote – Jose Mourinho, Sir Alex Ferguson, Herbert Chapman and Sir Matt Busby, which undoubtedly was the biggest labour of love, were. The other’s became labours of love.”

His first biography, Football – Bloody Hell, delved into the depths of perhaps the most renowned manager of them all, Sir Alex Ferguson. But Barclay isn’t afraid to criticise the former United boss. He added jokingly: “The Ferguson one didn’t become a labour of love, I ended up liking him less than when we started!”

However, the most fascinating manager of them all, Barclay goes on to say, is none of those he has written about. That accolade is reserved for Arsenal legend Arsene Wenger, who has captivated the sportswriter unlike any other. 

Barclay said: “His press conferences were often not wholly about football. He would bring in things from current events that had nothing to do with football, as illustrations of footballing points. I remember a lot of things he said during casual lines of press conferences you’d remember for the rest of your life.”

Barclay added: “Arsene said once: ‘I tend to favour players who are religious’. He said they tend to have a better sense of society, of them being a small part of a greater entity. In a team game, that’s very, very important.”