Eriksson claims he signed a contract to replace Ferguson as United manager in 2002
The Swede was England manager when he agreed a deal with the club’s former chief executive Peter Kenyon
Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson with ex-Manchester City manager Sven Goran Eriksson. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA
Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson says he signed a contract to replace Alex Ferguson at Manchester United – when the Scot announced his intention to retire in 2002.
Ferguson stepped down after 27 years in charge at Old Trafford at the end of last season but had previously indicated that he would quit in 2002, a decision he later reversed.
Swede Eriksson says in his forthcoming autobiography that he accepted a deal from former United chief executive Peter Kenyon to replace Ferguson while he was in charge of England.
“I knew it would be tricky,” said the 65-year-old who is now coach of Chinese Super League team Guangzhou R&F.
“I had a contract with England until the 2006 World Cup and I would be severely criticised if I broke that contract.
“But this was an opportunity to manage Manchester United. A contract was signed – I was United’s new manager.”
Eriksson remained as England manager until after the 2006 World Cup after Ferguson decided to reverse his decision to retire.
That World Cup featured a club versus country row between Eriksson and Ferguson over United striker Wayne Rooney who broke his foot before the squad for the finals in Germany was named.
Eriksson alleged that Ferguson promised to “make my life very difficult” if he picked Rooney and said how he was “screaming into the phone” when trying to dissuade the Swede from picking him.
Meanwhile Celtic manager Neil Lennon agrees his side’s reticence in front of goal is a concern ahead of Celtic’s crucial Champions League clash against Ajax in Amsterdam on Wednesday.
The Scottish champions needed an injury-time goal from Charlie Mulgrew to rescue a Scottish Premiership point in the 1-1 draw with Dundee United at Parkhead on Saturday after another afternoon of missed chances.
Stuart Armstrong gave the Tannadice side the lead in the 38th minute before Mulgrew earned a late reprieve.
“We had 20 attempts at goal, 10 corners, we’ve got to do better,” said Lennon. “We keep flashing balls in the box and I always see an opposition defender getting there first, that’s something we need to do better. We need to be braver.”