Scotland and Aberdeen legend Jim Leighton spoke to Radio Five last night and revealed that Sir Alex Ferguson rejected the opportunity to manage Arsenal and then took the Manchester United a few weeks later. George Graham, who went on to get the Arsenal job, was planned to be Ferguson’s number two.
Ferguson got rid of the drinking culture at the club, he nurtured the young players coming through, and won his first trophy less than four years after taking over. Since then, he has never gone longer than one season without winning something. He has created several different teams who have all been crowned Champions of England and who all incorporate homegrown talent. Winning trophies means more money for the club, so after picking up some of the greatest bargains of all time, like Eric Cantona for £1m, Peter Schmeichel for £530k, and making up half a starting XI with products from the youth team, Ferguson was able to spend bigger on the odd player here and there, which is a tactic he has stuck to throughout his years at United. Even now, a large proportion of our squad came from the youth team, we have several bargains (like Van der Sar, Park, Evra, Vidic etc.) and then big money buys (like Rooney, Rio and Berbatov).
With eleven league titles, two European Cups, five FA Cups and three League Cups, amongst others, thank God he came to us and not them! 25 trophies in 23 years isn’t bad going!
“We were in Santa Fe before we actually went into Mexico and Sir Alex was offered the Arsenal job, and George Graham would have been his assistant,” said Leighton. “But he wanted to wait until the World Cup was finished before it was announced, but Arsenal wanted to announce it straight away. So Sir Alex turned down the offer and George Graham got the job. Who knows want could have happened to Manchester United or Arsenal if that had been the case? He wanted to announce it when he came back to Aberdeen, he wanted to do things the right way, so credit to him”
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