A film about Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson opened in cinemas today, and this reporter managed to get someone to quickly open the fire door at his nearest OdeYawn branch, so he could sneak in and see it for nothing.
Like most recent British films it's really made for the American audience, and so slight changes had to be made to the manager's already incredibly successful career so far, to make it more palatable to a nation that took 'Little House on the Prairie' seriously. Welsh actor Anthony Hopkins plays Ferguson, and his unheard of wife is Emma Thompson, and other stars include Lionel Sachs as Rafa Benitez, for the beard comedy, and Jose Mourinho as himself.
In the opening scene at Old Trafford, where Manchester United were playing Liverpool, Sir Alex says 'No thank you', to his assistant Brian Who, when he offers Ferguson a stick of chewing gum, and the game gets going, but the first half is still scoreless with five minutes to go. Then Paul Scholes, played by Mick Hucknell, goes down in the penalty box, with no Liverpool players anywhere near him.
At that the referee runs over to the manager's dugout, and asks Sir Alex 'Was that a penalty, Sire?' 'No, no', the manager replies, 'please, there was no contact involved. Now begone with you, and let my sporting team carry on playing valiantly.'
In the second half of the match Liverpool player Steven Gerrard heavily tackles United star Wayne Rooney, played by Andrew Lloyd-Webber, and helps him back to his feet. 'Thanks, mate', Rooney says, 'fancy a drink later in Liverpool? How I miss the city of my birth!', and Gerrard replies, 'Sure, I'll bring along my boxing gloves!', and play resumes.
After the match, which ended 0-0, Ferguson goes over to Liverpool manager Benitez, and warmly shakes his hand. 'Frightfully bad luck, old chap', he says, 'you deserved to win.' And Benitez replies 'No, I think your team deserved a penalty in the first half, my liege. We shall say no more about it.' And then, in that 'weepy, sentimental' bit, that all Hollywood movies and now British ones have about ten minutes from the end, Sean Connery appears as Bill Shankley.
'You came!', gasps Sir Alex, and kneels at the undisputed king of English football managers, 'thank you, King Bill, for thy graceful and merciful attendance at this match of ours'. And Connery says 'Piss off, ya bluenose Hun, I've always been a Celtic fan!', and chops Ferguson's head off using Emma Thompson's accent.
All this reporter can say is that the film is as ghastly as all the British ones I've had the misfortune to sit through in recent times, another being the unbelievably dreadful one about Brian Clough.
But one film definitely worth watching is 'Elizabeth', as there's an unintentionally hilarious cameo by former Manchester United star Eric Cantona in it, which would be like Muhammed Ali appearing in 'The Merchant of Venice'. Or Gary Lineker starring as The Terminator.