1986; The headline reads: ‘Fergie’s a Gunner’

United have all but wrapped up the Premier League title for 2010/2011, and what will ultimately be their 19th time topping the country’s pinnacle. While Liverpool fans wallow in their houses, tapping away to the Beatles greatest hits and crying into their pillows, it’s time to reflect on what might have been for the Gunners.

In 1986, Alex Ferguson was amassing a portfolio in Scotland that would eventually make him the most successful British manager in history. Manchester United recognised the talent that was in the Scot, and replaced Ron Atkinson at Old Trafford’s helm. Six years on in 1992, United won their first title under Fergie and the run has rarely faulted since.

Just months before United headhunted Ferguson, the Scot is claiming to have been offered the same duties at Highbury. Speaking to the Glasgow Rangers programme ahead of Walter Smith’s finale at Ibrox, Fergie claims that the reason he didn’t make the move was because he wanted to take Smith with him, who instead chose to take the Rangers job.

Ferguson said: “I was offered the Arsenal job and I wanted to take Walter with me.

“I thought I would sound him out when we were on Scotland duty together. We were going to play in Israel and I didn’t know that Walter was going to Rangers at that time.

“I told him that I had been offered the chance to go to Arsenal and I asked him what he thought. He was positive about it, saying they were a big club and that kind of thing.

“So I said to him ‘Do you fancy coming with me?’ Then he dropped the bombshell that he was going to Rangers.

“The thing about the Arsenal offer was that they wanted an answer right away but I couldn’t give them one because I was going to the World Cup in Mexico with Scotland.”

So just like that, Walter went to Rangers and Alex joined Manchester United and it took some ten years before Arsenal managed to find that stalwart who could compete with Fergie (in Arsene Wenger).  But just imagine, just for one second, what would the history of the Premier League look like if those small details could have been ironed out?

Simon Bourne (Site Editor)

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