LONDON — Alex Ferguson lined up Pep Guardiola as his potential successor at Manchester United but the Spanish coach didn’t call him before taking the Bayern Munich job.
In his new book ”Leading,” Ferguson said the club ”established that several very desirable candidates were unavailable” before David Moyes was hired in 2013 for an unsuccessful 11-month spell in charge.
After Guardiola left Barcelona in mid-2012, Ferguson had dinner with the former Barcelona coach in New York but, as his own retirement was not on the agenda yet, there was no ”direct proposal” for the Spaniard to one day take over at United.
”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 writes in the book, which was published on Tuesday and co-authored with Michael Moritz.
Although Ferguson publicly announced the end of his near 27-year reign as United manager in May 2013, he had decided in December 2012 to retire after his wife’s sister died. Guardiola announced in January 2013 that he would take over at Bayern for the next season.
The succession process behind the scenes at Old Trafford began in March 2013 when Ferguson informed the owning Glazer family he wanted to retire in May.
”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,” Ferguson wrote. ”We also knew 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.”
Van Gaal did eventually take charge at Old Trafford after the World Cup, replacing Moyes after the Scot failed to qualify United for the Champions League with a squad that had won the Premier League by 11 points in Ferguson’s final season.
”There were some who wanted me to return to the sidelines,” Ferguson reflects on the firing of Moyes, who was recommended for the job by his fellow Scot. ”But I was not tempted for a moment.”
Ferguson is frustrated that there remains criticism of the squad he left behind, with United having spent around $500 million on new players since.
”You would have thought that I had left 11 corpses on the steps of a funeral,” he wrote. ”It’s hilarious.”