LONDON Sir Alex Ferguson has said that he was asked twice and refused to become manager of England, first in succession to Glenn Hoddle then Kevin Keegan.
Ferguson, whose latest autobiography publishes on Thursday, said: “There was no way I could contemplate that. It wasn’t a bed of nails I was ever tempted to lie on.”
The fact that he was offered the England job on two occasions will raise eyebrows in some quarters, although there will be little surprise that, as a proud Scot, he rejected the approaches.
Ferguson, who managed United for 27 successful years before retiring in the summer of 2013, discusses a wide range of topics in the book, called My Autobiography.
The Scot reflects on his rivalries with Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal and discusses his relationship with a number of players that have come and gone through the doors at Old Trafford since he arrived from Scotland in 1986.
Former United captain Roy Keane comes in for criticism in the book, which follows on from his last autobiography spanning from 2000-2013.
Keane became one of the trusted pillars of Ferguson’s reign at Old Trafford when he moved from Nottingham Forest in 1993, but their relationship soured 12 years later.
Ferguson reveals that Keane was livid at the club over their pre-season training camp in Portugal. The Irish midfielder said the accommodation was not up to scratch.
Then Keane tore into his team-mates in an interview with the club’s in-house TV station MUTV.
Ferguson says in the interview, which was pulled, Keane “slaughtered” several of the club’s senior players.
Keane then suggested the squad watch the interview and a furious row ensued. Ruud van Nistelrooy, Edwin van der Sar and Carlos Queiroz all argued and Keane then accused Ferguson of bringing his own dispute with shareholder John Magnier over the Rock of Gibraltar racehorse into the club.
“It was frightening to watch. And I’m from Glasgow,” Ferguson says.
“He has the most savage tongue you can imagine.”
Ferguson sold Keane to Celtic. The Irishman returned to Carrington to apologise to Ferguson months later, but the two have clashed since.
In a press conference that lasted almost 45 minutes, Ferguson touched on a number of key areas in his book, including the revelation that he twice turned down the job of managing England.
“It was a great opportunity to relegate England,” said Ferguson.
“No way would I have taken that job. (Former FA chief executive) Adam Crozier was the first one to come and see me.
“It took me about 10 seconds to say no way. I couldn’t manage England in a million years. Think of me going back to Scotland doing that.”
Three of the more controversial characters Ferguson had to deal with during his 26 years at United were Wayne Rooney, Keane and David Beckham.
Ferguson repeated his assertion that Rooney asked to leave United at the end of last season.
However, he also stated that had the England forward been playing the way he has been this season, a move away from Old Trafford would not even have been considered.
“Wayne asked away because he felt he was playing out of position,” said Ferguson.
“I can understand that. My judgement was that Wayne wasn’t playing well enough.
“But when you see him playing like he is, do you think I would drop him? No way.
“He is England’s great white hope and a great player for Manchester United. The player who is playing now is a different player.”
Wayne Rooney also receives criticism, although on a far lesser scale. Ferguson laments the striker’s failure to “absorb new ideas or methods quickly” in training and his supposed lack of fitness.
Ferguson does not go into much detail about how Rooney asked to leave United last summer – only saying that the striker was unhappy at being left on the bench so often.
He does reveal more about Rooney’s plea to leave in 2010, when the former Everton man told Ferguson that the club were not ambitious enough. Rooney said Ferguson should have signed Mesut Ozil, now at Arsenal.
Ferguson writes in the book: “My reply was that it was none of his business who we should have gone for.”