Fergie's 25 years at United: How Sven almost became Old Trafford boss in 2002
Published 21:30 31/10/11 By David McDonnell
Manchester United were close to appointing Sven Goran Eriksson as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor when the Manchester United boss changed his mind about retiring.
Former United chief Martin Edwards recalled how the club were deep in negotiations with then England boss Eriksson when Fergie made his spectacular U-turn in February 2002.
“Alex had made the decision that he wanted to go at the end of the 2001-02 season,” said Edwards.
“I was still chairman at the time and the board’s choice was to go for Sven Goran Eriksson.
“We were a long way down the road with those negotiations when Alex changed his mind and said he wanted to stay, to the delight of everybody.
“As soon as he decided to stay it was a huge relief, because we all felt he still had a lot of mileage in him, as has been proven.”
Edwards admitted Ferguson’s successor will have a hard time living up to his achievements when the United boss eventually stands down.
“It will be a difficult decision for the club and a brave man who takes on the job, because to follow Alex is a bit like following Sir Matt Busby,” said Edwards.
“But the club is in a far better state than it was when Matt retired, when a lot of the players were coming to the end of their careers.
“If Alex decided to go at the end of this season, there are younger players coming through, the squad is established and I think the club would be able to cope.
“Whoever takes over from Alex has got to be someone who’s had a fair amount of managerial experience and been around a while, because it’s such a huge job.
“But Alex isn’t showing any signs at the moment that he’s considering going. There are no hints whatsoever.
“I don’t think he’d ever hint at that now because, when it happened last time, the team disintegrated and finished third that season.
“When he does decide to go, I think it will be at the end of a season when it won’t affect the team’s performance.”