Martin Edwards reveals how he appointed Sir Alex Ferguson
Last Updated: 05/04/13 10:32am
Appointing Alex - Fake accents and motorway services
Former Manchester United chairman Martin Edwards revealed to the Footballers Football Show how he used a fake accent and false name to help bring Sir Alex Ferguson to Old Trafford and start the most successful period in the club's history.
Edwards was the man to appoint Ferguson as Manchester United manager in 1986 after the Scot had enjoyed huge success with Aberdeen, taking them to three Scottish league titles, four Scottish Cup triumphs and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup.
The former United chairman admitted they briefly considered Terry Venables as a candidate but quickly focused their energies on bringing Ferguson south of the border - although it was not the smoothest of appointments.
"Obviously it was a difficult thing to ring the chairman and ask to speak to him without knowing that Alex would accept the invitation if it was offered to him," Edwards told the Footballers Football Show.
"So we felt that we really needed to speak to him first so we did concoct a phone call using a false name to speak to him at Aberdeen to just make sure we were on the right track. Once we got that affirmation we arranged to meet him and Dick Donald the chairman of Aberdeen to talk about terms."
Edwards added: "Terry Venables was briefly mentioned but Alex was favourite so it was fairly unanimous early on that he was the man we really wanted.
"Well, really what he had achieved in Scottish football. To take on the might of Celtic and Rangers in Scotland with Aberdeen and to win the amount of Championships and Scottish FA Cups that he did, and of course the success he had in taking Aberdeen to the Cup Winners' Cup final, particularly beating Real Madrid in the final, he had the pedigree.
"He was young, he was enthusiastic, he had tremendous achievements north of the border and we just felt that he was the right man to take us forward."
Ferguson, who has since won 12 Premier League titles and two European Cups with United, endured a difficult start to his tenure at Old Trafford. But Edwards insists they were always confident he would deliver the results and silverware the club craved.
"The first signs were how he restructured the club from the bottom," Edwards said. "The first thing he looked at was the youth team and the juniors and he looked at the scouting system and everything else. I think he felt that United needed to bring young players through.
"We knew how hard he was working at that level but the first team took a lot longer to actually deliver results. He came in November '86 and we did not win a trophy until '90. In fact we were in a poor position in the league in the year that we did win the Cup and there was a lot of pressure to make the change, to say is he the right man.
"He has come from Scotland, is good enough to manage the top club in England? So we had all this outside pressure but we knew how hard he was working behind the scenes and how strongly he was working on the youth. And we felt that given the time then the success would come."