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Alex Ferguson had a shortlist of three managers to succeed him as Manchester United boss

Alex Ferguson

Things could have played out very differently.

Former Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson had a shortlist of three managers in mind to succeed him if he left the famous club at the turn of the century.

Alex Ferguson

Ferguson at Man United.

Ferguson will go down as one of the greatest managers of all time after he led Manchester United to unprecedented success during his 26-year spell as boss of the famous club.

During that time, the Scot led Manchester United to 38 trophies which included, amongst others, 13 Premier League titles, two Champions Leagues and five FA Cups.

Ferguson’s potential successors at Man United.

Dermot Desmond, who is currently Celtic’s largest shareholder and a former shareholder of Man United before he sold his stake to Malcolm Glazer in 2005, has revealed that he tried to tempt Ferguson to Celtic.

Desmond’s offer timately failed as Ferguson wanted to win the Champions League with the Red Devils. Once he completed this feat in 1999, Desmond tried again attempted to lure the Scot to Glasgow. Again, his efforts were rebuffed.

However, the Celtic chief recalls in an interview with The Athletic that if Ferguson was to leave Old Trafford, he would have liked to see Martin O’Neill, Alan Curbishley or David O’Leary replace him as Man United manager.

Dermot Desmond: “He (Alex Ferguson) said there were three people.”

“In 2000, I went back and asked him if he was to pick his replacement at that time who would it be,” Desmond said.

“He said there were three people: Dave O’Leary, Alan Curbishley and Martin O’Neill. I said the one I’m interested in is Martin O’Neill.”

O’Neill would take over as Celtic manager in 2000 and Desmond explains that the appointment came off the back of a recommendation by Alex Ferguson.

“I had previously asked a prominent broadcaster if Martin would be interested in the job and I got a response in the negative.

“I then asked Alex if he would speak with Martin, to see if he would meet with me, and the response was that he would be very interested in meeting.

“So I met Martin for dinner and we got on very well. I introduced him to Pat and Brian and they also felt he was a remarkable individual, so we hired Martin.”

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Author: Sean McMahon

Sean is Deputy Editor and head rugby writer. You can contact him by email seanmc@punditarena.com or on Twitter