Witness the furore surrounding his autobiography, published last week, and his observations on former Manchester United players David Beckham, Roy Keane and Wayne Rooney: even in retirement controversy and turmoil seem never to be far away.
But, family aside, there is one constant that has been an anchor throughout Ferguson's glittering career: his Govan roots. Three or four years ago, Ferguson made a quiet visit to the old Fairfield shipyard offices in Glasgow's Govan Road. It was where his father, Alexander, had worked.
Glasgow councillor Alistair Watson, who was there that day, recalls: "Alex's dad was ill towards the end of his working life and he spent the last part of his time at Fairfields working in the pay office, where pay-packets would be handed to workers through a window.
"That day, Alex was taken to where that old pay-office stood and he was deeply moved to see it. It was an emotional moment for him."
In a revealing interview at the Scottish Football Museum Hall of Fame dinner in Glasgow in 2011, Ferguson spoke admiringly of his father's influence. He recalled how Alexander would rouse the household early in readiness for work, irrespective of whether it was at school or in the yards. And he smiled as he remembered his dad shaking his feet as a way of getting him up to face the day.
More than almost any other public figure, Ferguson has spoken with unalloyed pride of his roots. He made his philosophy clear in the first volume of his life story, Managing My Life, writing: "I am always slightly baffled by people who are quite happy to lose contact with their roots."
This was the man who for many years would keep in touch with his old primary school teacher, Elizabeth Thomson, by ringing her every few months to say: "This is your favourite pupil."
"He really does have an iron grip on his sense of where he comes from," says Watson, who has come to know Ferguson well on his repeated trips to his home city.
"I think the only other Scot who has spoken with such pride of his roots is Jackie Stewart. Alex really has been shaped by Govan, and he has never let himself forget that. He spends a lot of time up here and he tends to devote a lot of that to seeing his friends from the old days."
Watson's mother grew up in Govan's Kintra Street, 400 yards from the Ferguson family home. "Like Alex, I'm a former pupil of Govan High School, and when the school had its centenary celebrations a few years ago, I went along to the banqueting hall in the City Chambers, just as an elected member," Watson said yesterday.
"The first person I ran into was Alex. We got talking and he asked me to sit with his old friends from the school, who were at a table. That was a real honour. They're all a bit older than me - they're all 71, 72, and I'm 55 - and it was fantastic to be able to talk to them.
"I've come to know Alex as a highly principled, very private individual. It has been a privilege to get to know him."
Fergie's coterie of friends from his days in Govan includes Duncan Petersen, a former Grangemouth ICI plumber who took early retirement, and engineers Tommy Hendry and Jim McMillan. All three were at the same nursery school as Ferguson at the age of four.
Petersen, Hendry and McMillan all lived near Ibrox, some 300 yards from Ferguson's family home at 677 Govan Road. "I was relaxed and generally carefree," Ferguson wrote in Managing My Life, "although straying out of my own immediate locality had its risks unless I was visiting friends ... I might not have ventured [to where his three friends lived] if I hadn't been going to see them."
As the boys grew up and married they drifted apart and contact between them was limited. Ferguson was well into his managerial career before contact was restored. He had taken Aberdeen to new heights when, in 1986, two months before he left the north-east for Manchester to manage United, Petersen rang him and invited Ferguson and his wife Cathy to his 25th wedding anniversary.
"It was a turning-point in my life," Ferguson writes in My Autobiography. "All the lads were there and it brought us back together. Our families were established; we were mature men. I moved to United the following month and we've remained close ever since."
The friendships sustained him while he was at Old Trafford. Ferguson would invite them to his Cheshire home, Fairfields, for a buffet and a singsong. "We'd put all the old records on," he said. "They were all good singers."
He describes them as "good, solid people" who are not afraid of giving him stick. "They get away with it because they are so like me; they are the same stock. They grew up with me."
Another old school friend cropped up in Ferguson's life in September 1968 in unusual circumstances. His wife, Cathy, had gone to the Queen Mother's Hospital in Glasgow to give birth to her first child, Mark. At the hospital Ferguson was greeted effusively by the hospital's head gynaecologist, but failed to recognise him.
The doctor was Frank Sharp, who had lived two closes down from the Fergusons in Govan Road. He had lost his hair and wore glasses, which is why Ferguson failed to recognise him.
Ferguson has long taken a close interest in the fortunes of Harmony Row boys' club. In September 2008 he opened its splendid £500,000 training complex at Braehead - a facility he had helped campaign for over two decades.
With him were some of his old Govan friends, including Petersen, who recalled: "We have known him for 62 years" and spoke of his memories of playing 'the puggie', an old debris-strewn field in Govan's Helen Street where football was played.
"There were spikes of metal breaking through the ground, there was broken glass everywhere," Ferguson added. "There was an advantage in our day that you could play on the street. There was no traffic. You could throw your jerseys down and make goals out of lamp-posts."