Former Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd has revealed he tried to lure Sir Alex Ferguson from Manchester United in 1997.

Ferguson retired last year after 27 hugely successful years at the helm at Old Trafford - but it could have all been very different if he'd taken up Newcastle on their offer.

Manchester United dramatically denied Newcastle the Premier League title back in 1996 - and in February the following year boss Kevin Keegan stepped down.

Kenny Dalglish was his eventual replacement, but now Shepherd has revealed that his first choice replacement was Ferguson - however he claims the Scot used the opportunity to score a pay rise at Old Trafford.

"When Keegan left we tried to get Ferguson to Newcastle as his replacement," he told the Newcastle Chronicle.

"We had talks with his advisors at the time. We soon realised there was no way he was going to come to Newcastle.

"He was just trying to get an increase in salary. We knew we were just being used. Kevin had left and we tried to get Ferguson but that's as far as we got.

"We were ambitious, we tried to get him - at least we tried.

"At one time we thought we might get him because he wasn't happy with Manchester United. It wasn't to be though."

Having turned down Newcastle, Ferguson went on to guide Manchester United to the Champions League in 1999, and claimed a record 13 Premier League trophies and a further European success in 2008 before deciding to retire at the end of last season.

His replacement David Moyes has struggled to emulate his predecessor, and the Red Devils currently sit in 7th place in the Premier League with Champions League qualification looking unlikely.

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