Thursday 23 March 2017

Fergie reveals how Guardiola turned down United offer

Pep Guardiola was first choice to succeed Alex Ferguson at Man Utd
Pep Guardiola was first choice to succeed Alex Ferguson at Man Utd

Mark Ogden

Pep Guardiola rejected the opportunity to succeed Alex Ferguson at Manchester United by ignoring the Scot's request to make contact before accepting a job offer from another club.

The revelation, in Ferguson's new book, Leading, by Alex Ferguson with Michael Moritz, confirms for the first time that Guardiola, rather than David Moyes, was United's first choice to become their manager after Ferguson's retirement at the end the 2012-13 season.

With Guardiola choosing to return to management with Bayern Munich at the end of his year-long sabbatical after his resignation at Barcelona, Moyes was ultimately billed as Ferguson's chosen successor.

But in a further disclosure, Ferguson suggests that the former Everton manager, who is now battling to safeguard his position as coach of Real Sociedad, was no higher than sixth-choice in the list to succeed him and secured the job only because more preferable candidates were ruled out.

Guardiola's decision to snub United by taking the Bayern job came just weeks after the Spaniard had dined with Ferguson in New York.

"I had dinner with Pep Guardiola in New York in 2012, but couldn't make him any direct proposal because retirement was not on my agenda at that point," Ferguson said.

"He had already won an enviable number of trophies with Barcelona… and I admired him greatly. I asked Pep to phone me before he accepted an offer from another club, but he didn't and wound up joining Bayern Munich in July 2013."

Ferguson, who advised United's owners, the Glazer family, on who should succeed him as manager, admits that Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti were also quickly discounted as candidates due to the timing of his decision to retire - he informed the Glazers in February 2013 that he would be vacating his post.

"Life is such that the best of theories, or the best of intentions, sometimes don't translate into practice," Ferguson said. "Believe me, the United board wanted nothing more than to select a manager who would be with the club for a long time.

"When we started the process of looking for my replacement, we established that several very desirable candidates were unavailable.

"It became apparent that Jose Mourinho had given his word to Roman Abramovich that he would return to Chelsea, and that Carlo Ancelotti would succeed him at Real Madrid.

"We also knew that Jurgen Klopp was happy at Borussia Dortmund and Louis van Gaal had undertaken to lead the Dutch attempt to win the 2014 World Cup."

While Moyes's appointment was portrayed as United identifying a manager in Ferguson's image and handing him the opportunity to build on his predecessor's legacy with the backing of a six-year contract, the appointment quickly turned out to be a disaster.

Moyes was sacked before the end of his only season in charge, with defending champions United marooned in seventh position in the Premier League having failed to qualify for the Champions League.

Ferguson claims that one of Moyes' biggest mistakes was his naivety in making wholesale changes to a successful formula within days of beginning work at Old Trafford, from replacing coaching staff to banning his players from eating chips and fish fingers.

"I'm sure there are things that David would do differently if he had the opportunity to relive his time at Old Trafford," Ferguson said.

Invaluable

"Such as keeping Mick Phelan [Ferguson's assistant], who would have been the invaluable guide to the many layers of the club that Ryan Giggs is to Louis van Gaal today.

"There is no point suddenly changing routines that players are comfortable with. It is counter-productive, saps morale and immediately provokes players to question the new man's motives.

"A leader who arrives in a new setting, or inherits a big role, needs to curb the impulse to display his manhood."

Ferguson also deals with the departure of Paul Pogba from Old Trafford.

Pogba, who arrived at Old Trafford as a 16-year-old from Le  Havre in 2009, walked out of United to sign for Juventus at the end of the 2011-12 season due to complaints of a lack of first-team opportunities.

United received a mere £800,000 in compensation for the player, who has now been valued at £71m by the Italian champions and is expected to sign for Barcelona next summer.

Ferguson insists that Pogba's decision to hire the controversial agent, Mino Raiola, sparked his eventual departure from United.

"There are one or two football agents I simply do not like," Ferguson said. "And Mino Raiola is one of them. I distrusted him from the moment I met him.

"We had Paul under a three-year contract, and it had a one-year renewal option which we were eager to sign. But Raiola suddenly appeared on the scene and our first meeting was a fiasco. He and I were like oil and water. From then on, our goose was cooked."

Leading, by Alex Ferguson with Michael Moritz (Hodder & Stoughton, £25)

Telegraph.co.uk

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