LONDON • Alex Ferguson has revealed that David Moyes, the man chosen as his managerial successor at Manchester United, was sixth on a list of ideal replacements headed by Pep Guardiola, who were all "unavailable" at the time.
In his new book Leading, United's longest-serving manager outlines the selection process behind Moyes' ill-fated appointment at Old Trafford, which lasted less than a year after he replaced the retired Ferguson in 2013.
"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," the Scot wrote.
"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 Juergen Klopp was happy at Borussia Dortmund and would be signing a new contract. Meantime, Louis van Gaal had undertaken to lead the Dutch attempt to win the 2014 World Cup."
REIN IN YOUR EGO
A leader who arrives in a new setting, or inherits a big role, needs to curb the impulse to display his manhood.
ALEX FERGUSON on his successor as Manchester United manager, David Moyes, removing his entire backroom team
... the four world-class players he had during his reign at Old Trafford
"I don't mean to demean or criticise any of the great or very good footballers who played for me during my 26-year career at United, but there were only four who were world-class: (Eric) Cantona, (Ryan) Giggs, (Cristiano) Ronaldo and (Paul) Scholes.
"And of the four, Cristiano was like an ornament on the top of a Christmas tree."
... missing out on signing Thomas Mueller. The Scot also failed to take Petr Cech, Didier Drogba, Ronaldo, Sergio Aguero, Lucas Moura, Raphael Varane, Alan Shearer, Gabriel Batistuta, Samir Nasri to Old Trafford for various reasons.
"Thomas Mueller, who scored five goals for Germany in the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, was a 10-year-old playing for an amateur team several miles from Munich when we first heard about him. We had him watched and the following day he committed himself to Bayern."
... considering signing wayward Italy striker Mario Balotelli
"In 2010, I briefly flirted with the idea of signing Mario Balotelli, the talented but controversial Italian striker. I did my homework on him, speaking to a few Italian contacts, but the feedback I got confirmed it was too big a risk."
... why Paul Pogba left for Juventus
"We had Paul under a three-year contract, and it had a one-year renewal option which we were eager to sign.
"But (Pogba's agent Mino) 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 because Raiola had been able to ingratiate himself with Paul and his family and the player signed with Juventus."
Moyes was sacked after 10 months at United but Ferguson defended his fellow Scot's record prior to joining the club.
"We chose David Moyes. He had been consistent in his job at Everton, had a good spell there - 11 years and showed appetite. Unfortunately, somehow it didn't work out for David. The process was perfect. It was a good process," Ferguson said.
Instead, the former United manager reserved his criticism for Moyes' decision to overhaul his backroom staff after taking charge.
Moyes removed all of the coaching staff including Mick Phelan, who had been Ferguson's assistant manager. "There is no point suddenly changing routines that players are comfortable with," said the 73-year-old, who won 38 trophies in his 26 years at United.
"A leader who arrives in a new setting, or inherits a big role, needs to curb the impulse to display his manhood."
Van Gaal ultimately replaced Moyes and Ferguson backed the Dutchman to succeed at Old Trafford.
"Louis' got the great background, Bayern Munich, Barcelona," he told Sky Sports yesterday as van Gaal prepared his side to face Championship side Ipswich in today's League Cup third round. "He's got the pedigree, no doubt about that."
Other revelations in the book include how Ferguson got his salary doubled in a matter of seconds.
When United agreed to increase Wayne Rooney's weekly pay to £250,000 (S$549,000) in October 2010 after the forward's transfer request, he expressed his concern to David Gill, then the chief executive, and Joel Glazer, one of the owners, that the England international was much better paid.
"It was simple. We just agreed that no player should be paid more than me," Ferguson said. "We agreed in less time than it takes to read the previous sentence."
Following that negotiation, Ferguson's annual salary soared to an estimated £13 million, making him the world's best-paid manager.
REUTERS, THE TIMES, LONDON