Despite the mountain of stories from young coaches who have received words of encouragement from the Scot, James attacked Ferguson in his column for the Observer.
"I call it the Manchester United mafia, led by Sir Alex Fergu-don.
"In 25 years of professional football, a period in which I have played Ferguson's teams on many occasions, I have never exchanged more than a hello and a nod with the man. Whereas a manager like José Mourinho will give you the time of day, Ferguson is unapproachable.
"If there is a code of silence, Ferguson's players are bound to it. Despite being friends with Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney, among others, I have never - ever - heard them say anything about Ferguson.
"All those hours of sitting around at England camps or on bus rides, and not once did any United players ever reveal anything to me about their team-mates, their dressing room or their manager. In an industry renowned for its gossip I find that extraordinary."