Carlo Ancelotti has admitted he was fully prepared to replace Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United in 2013.
Ferguson met with the Italian over the upcoming vacancy in his final weeks as manager of the Red Devils, but found that he was too late.
Ancelotti had already spoken with Real Madrid and committed to succeeding Jose Mourinho at the Bernabeu. However, he has admitted that, had that not been the case, he would have jumped at the chance to sit in Ferguson's vacated throne.
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He told The Times: "[It was] a nice lunch. Alex chose the wine, really expensive.
"[But] I had already spoken to Real Madrid. For the experience, a manager has to go to Madrid. If it hadn't been for that, I would have come, 100 per cent."
Having led Manchester United for 27 glory-filled years, Ferguson deserved the right to decide exactly when he retired but gave the board little chance to prepare after making the snap decision late into the 2012/13 season.
Indeed, had Ferguson made the choice earlier, it appears that Manchester United would have had a good chance of getting Ancelotti and may have even had a shot at Pep Guardiola, who was enjoying a sabbatical at the time.
With those big shots bagged by Real Madrid and Bayern Munich by the time Ferguson made his decision, only Jose Mourinho and David Moyes seemed viable options. Infamously, the Scotsman chose his compatriot.
Ancelotti experienced success during his two seasons with Real Madrid, winning the Champions League in his first season before being sacked after a trophy-less second campaign. He will succeed Guardiola at Bayern Munich next season while, once again, Manchester United find themselves without an ideal replacement for their manager Louis van Gaal.
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