Sir Alex Ferguson tonight claimed he turned down the chance to manage England twice.

The Manchester United boss told a Canadian television station he was never interested in the job, but was approached on two occasions. He did not give details, but it is thought Ferguson was considered as a replacement for Terry Venables in 1996 and Glenn Hoddle three years later.

The 68-year-old, speaking as his side prepared to begin their North American tour, said: "I was offered the chance to manage the England team on a couple of occasions but, of course, it was just out of the question."

He added: "It's a poisoned chalice anyway. I think it's a terrible job, plus the fact that I would have had a tremendous handicap being Scottish; no matter which way you look it, that's important."

Ferguson had plenty to say during this summer's World Cup as England limped out in the first knock-out round with several players, not least United's own Wayne Rooney, failing to perform.

And the United boss reiterated his belief fatigue played a huge role in their failure.

"The English season is exhausting," he said. "Look at December, for instance, when we play eight or nine games even though it's the worst time of the year for the pitches, when they are heavier and the weather is at its worst.

"In the second half of the season, you then find lots of players are carrying little strains and pulls. But because of the importance of the games they keep on playing and, when they get to the end of the season and there's an important tournament such as the World Cup, they are not 100%.

"They can't be because they need that rest factor to bring the energy back into their system."

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