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How close Graeme Souness came to replacing Alex Ferguson at Man United

Graeme Souness

How would Manchester United have done under Souness?

It’s almost impossible to imagine it now but there was a period when Graeme Souness was being seriously considered as a replacement for Sir Alex Ferguson.

The year was 1989 and the glory days of Alex Ferguson’s United had yet to arrive when businessman Michael Knighton launched a takeaway bid for the Red Devils.

Alex Ferguson

Talks progressed to the point that Knighton even appeared on the Old Trafford pitch in a full United kit before a match.

Simon Hughes’ book Men in White Suits, which documents Liverpool in the 1990s, revealed that Souness had been identified as the man to take United forward if the Knighton acquisition had come to fruition.

Graeme Souness

Graeme Souness offered chance to replace Alex Ferguson at Man United.

The plan was reportedly to have Souness, then in charge of Rangers, replace Ferguson at Old Trafford and promote Walter Smith to the manager’s role at Ibrox.

Knighton’s takeover never materialised, Ferguson weathered the storm and went on to oversee a period of remarkable dominance for United.

As for Souness, he became Liverpool manager in 1991 and spent three years in the Anfield hot seat but he has since admitted that he would have jumped at the chance to manage United if the offer had come.

Graeme Souness

“Fergie was having a difficult time and the banners were up in the Stretford End,” Souness wrote in the Daily Mail in 2016.

“I was manager of Rangers but I would have gone there. Damn right. I was flying.

“I am not sure how well I would have been received and I am sure United supporters will look upon that as a lucky escape now! But I would have taken it.”

Ferguson ended up spending almost 27 years in charge of United, while Souness went on to manage a number of clubs around Europe after leaving Liverpool. His last managerial role came at Newcastle between 2004 and 2006.

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