Revealed: David Dein confirms Sir Alex Ferguson could have managed Arsenal

Former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein has disclosed he attempted to appoint Sir Alex Ferguson as manager of the North London club.

The Scotsman eventually joined Premier League giants Manchester United from Scottish side Aberdeen in the late 1980s, but could have been Gunners coach instead.

David Dein admits that when Don Howe left the club in 1986, he looked hard at Alex Ferguson as the replacement.

“I had this idea to get Alex Ferguson to succeed Don Howe, while another board member suggested George Graham,” Dein wrote in the Daily Mail.

“George did tick a lot of the boxes. He looked the part and, as a former player from the 1971 double team, he knew the Arsenal values.

“That held a lot of sway with the board. Some notably bigger names were mooted, including Terry Venables and Johan Cruyff, but in the end it was really between Alex and George.

“The board thought George could do the job. He was young, aspiring and hungry. He was elegant and always well turned-out. He started lower down to learn the ropes of management.”

Dein continued: “He knew a lot of the lower-division players, which was an asset in England, to try to mould something with smart recruitment.

“But while George had the Arsenal connection, he had yet to cut his teeth in the big time. He was at Millwall in the lower divisions and that was his first managerial job. I thought it might be a risk. Alex, on the other hand, had more experience and more success.

“His Aberdeen team had been a revelation and won impressively, including in Europe. So I floated the idea of a double act — that we bring Alex in as no.1 with George to be his no.2.

“The combination could be a dream ticket, the two Scotsmen combining a lot of qualities with the potential to be even more ambitious in the top division in England. I knew Alex and knew the chairman of Aberdeen, Dick Donald. I sounded him out delicately to see if Alex would be interested.”

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