Ferguson: Mourinho and Guardiola could have succeeded me

Guardiola was near the top of Fergie's wish list
Guardiola was near the top of Fergie's wish list

Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has revealed he was rebuffed by a host of high profile targets before he finally gave the green light to appoint David Moyes as his successor in the summer of 2013.

Ferguson was perceived to have made Moyes his No.1 target to take over his Old Trafford dynasty when he decided to retire, but the legendary Scottish tactician has not put a different slant on that story.

Writing in his new book entitled Leading, Ferguson confirmed that his oft-discussed meeting with Pep Guardiola in New York in 2012 did touch on his possible availability to take over at United.

Meanwhile, the names of Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and current United boss Louis van Gaal were all considered and ruled out before Moyes became what now appears to be a back-up choice.

"I had dinner with Pep Guardiola in New York in 2012, but couldn't make him any direct proposal because retirement was not on my agenda at that point," Ferguson writes in his new book.

"He had already won an enviable number of trophies with Barcelona... and I admired him greatly.

"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.

“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 Jurgen Klopp was happy at Borussia Dortmund and would be signing a new contract. Louis van Gaal had undertaken to lead the Dutch attempt to win the 2014 World Cup.”

Moyes was sacked before the end of a disastrous first season and United and Ferguson accepted the criticism of the appointment was expected after some of the decisions made by the former Everton boss.

"I understand why critics, particularly in light of the 2013-14 season, say we should have handled the transition better," Ferguson said.

“I'm sure there are things that David would do differently if he had the opportunity to relive his time at Old Trafford.

“Such as keeping Mick Phelan (Ferguson's assistant), who would have been the invaluable guide to the many layers of the club that Ryan Giggs is to Louis van Gaal today.

“There is no point suddenly changing routines that players are comfortable with. It is counterproductive, saps morale and immediately provokes players to question the new man's motives.

"A leader who arrives in a new setting, or inherits a big role, needs to curb the impulse to display his manhood."

Ferguson also gave his full backing to current United boss Van Gaal, in his conversation with Sky Sports.

“Louis has got a great background with Bayern Munich and Barcelona. He’s got the pedigree there’s no doubt about that," he added.

“I love his press conferences. They are brilliant. I can see some of the press guys twitching in their seats as he answers some of the questions.

“He’s got the confidence to deal with that. He’s got the experience. He knows how to handle these things.

“It’s going to take time because everyone is different. Taking over from myself it’s going to take time to get his team on the pitch.”