Premier League – Ferguson ‘turned down Arsenal’


Sir Alex Ferguson turned down the chance to manage Arsenal before taking over at Manchester United, according to ex-United man Jim Leighton.

1985 Scotland Alex Ferguson - 0

Former Scotland goalkeeper Jim Leighton made the claim on a BBC programme about the 1986 World Cup, at which Ferguson managed the Scots on a caretaker basis following the death of Jock Stein.

Leighton said Arsenal approached the then-Aberdeen manager before the tournament in Mexico, but Ferguson refused the offer as he was unwilling to commit to a club while still on international duty.

“Ferguson was offered the Arsenal job,” said Leighton. “George Graham would have been his assistant, but he wanted to wait until the World Cup was finished before it was getting announced.

“Arsenal said they wanted it (a decision) straight away and so he refused it and George Graham got the job.”

“He wanted to announce it when he got back to Aberdeen, to do it the right way.”

Ferguson also refused the Tottenham job, and stayed with the Dons until November 1986 when he replaced Ron Atkinson at Old Trafford.

He has gone on to land a staggering haul of trophies, including 11 Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two Champions Leagues.

Graham led Arsenal to two league titles, one FA Cup and the Cup-Winners’ Cup but was sacked in 1995 following revelations of financial irregularities.

Leighton also claimed Ferguson’s controversial omission from the World Cup of Liverpool defender Alan Hansen was due to the player’s lack of consistency.

“As far as Alan Hansen was concerned, Fergie believed that he wasn’t always ‘turning up’ for games against maybe Luxembourg, the Faroes or San Marino,” said Leighton.

“He only wanted to ‘turn up’ for the really important games.”

Alex Chick / Eurosport