Alex Ferguson, not Jose Mourinho, was Roman Abramovich’s first-choice to take over at Stamford Bridge when the Russian businessman bought Chelsea 17 years ago.
A year before agreeing a deal with Jose Mourinho for his first spell at Chelsea, Roman Abramovich targeted Manchester United’s legendary boss Alex Ferguson.
Abramovich, whose millions played a significant role in delivering Chelsea’s first Premier League title, made Ferguson a priority when he began pumping money into the Blues.
In an interview with US television company PBS, Ferguson revealed that he didn’t hesitate to rebuff Abramovich’s 2003 advances via an agent.
“They approached me when Abramovich first took over the club,” Ferguson told PBS. “I said no chance.”
For a seven-year period after Abramovich got involved with Chelsea, the London club and Man United engaged in an epic rivalry and the Premier League title ended up at one of the two sides between 2004 and 2011.
Following consecutive title wins for Chelsea in 2004/05 and 2005/06, United claimed three in a row before the clubs exchanged one each ahead of Manchester City’s significant investment that turned them into challengers.
During Ferguson’s 27 years in charge of United, he has faced and more often than not conquered many foes. But the rivalry between Chelsea and the Red Devils during that period will live long in the memory of the Scot.
“It’s a strange one, Chelsea, because they’ve changed managers so many times,” Ferguson said.
“They’ve won the European Cup, they’ve won three league titles during the Abramovich time, they’ve won the FA Cup three times during Abramovich’s time but yet they keep changing the coach.
“But it works for them! That works for them in that they’ve kept winning but when you look at the long-term situation, you’d worry about that.”