Newcastle made an audacious move to bring Sir Alex Ferguson to Tyneside as Kevin Keegan’s successor on Tyneside.
But when Manchester United found out, this time it was chairman Martin Edwards – and not Fergie – administering the hairdryer treatment.
Former Newcastle owner Sir John Hall, now 88, revealed: “Kevin was a hard act to follow, but Alex Ferguson would have done nicely. He was the best in the business.
“We needed someone to keep up the momentum when Kevin left in 1997 and the lads felt they had a chance of snatching Alex from Manchester United, where he had already turned the club around to win plenty of trophies.
“Our former chairman Freddy Shepherd, who has since sadly passed away, revealed what happened a few years after our failed Ferguson coup.
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“He told me, ‘Martin Edwards, the Manchester United chairman, had obviously got wind of what was going on. He rang me and asked if I had got anything to tell him – like Alex Ferguson? I was on a boat at the time and I almost fell off it’.”
“It would have been great if we had pulled it off and he came to manage Newcastle United, but we didn’t do too badly. We managed to get Kenny Dalglish instead.”
Fergie Under The Hairdryer by John Richardson, published by Reach Sport, is available from Amazon