It has been well documented that Manchester United's star players were left shocked by Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to retire on short notice near the end of the 2012-13 season.
The Red Devils had just sealed their 13th Premier League title – later going on to win it by an 11-point margin – and Ferguson still had no plans to retire. In fact, he told one of his most senior stars that they were about to enter a new era under his stewardship.
Patrice Evra, speaking to the Sunday Times, has revealed in detail how Ferguson had told him he would be in charge at Old Trafford for another five years just two weeks before reversing that decision in the most dramatic of ways.
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As Manchester United fans can tell you, it was a decision that would rock the club to its very foundations and leave Old Trafford officials scrambling to find a replacement.
But, according to the France international, it was not just a great manager that Manchester United lost when Ferguson brought an end to a 27-year reign; they also saw any chance of bringing one of the game's greatest ever performers back to the club slip away.
He told Duncan Castles: “I remember we talked maybe two weeks before and he said, ‘Patrice, I will be here another five years'.
“I said. ‘Yes, boss. Let’s do it.’ I was so convinced. He was looking younger and younger, amazing. He even told me ‘99%, Cristiano Ronaldo will come’. I was like, ‘Wow, we are ready to bounce back and to even win the Champions League again’.
So close, so far
Ronaldo and Ferguson hold a special relationship together and the Scotsman had been working closely with David Gill and the Portuguese's representatives to make the deal happen.
The Real Madrid star was ready to call time on his Bernabeu career if it meant headlining a new Ferguson dynasty, but his decision to leave left Ronaldo with little choice but to stay in Spain.
Having seen David Moyes fail, and with United still looking for their first silverware in the post-Ferguson era, he clearly made the correct decision.
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