Newcastle enraged Manchester United by approaching legendary boss Sir Alex Ferguson to replace Kevin Keegan in 1997, it has emerged.
The Magpies could soon make a similar move for one of Europe’s top coaches following the blockbuster £305million takeover of the club last week.
A consortium fronted by Amanda Staveley completed their long-awaited purchase of Newcastle from Mike Ashley.
Newcastle’s most successful period of recent history came under the management of former boss Keegan.
The Liverpool icon was appointed in 1992 and his side were renowned for their entertaining style of football. Newcastle frequently challenged United for the Premier League title, but they remained without any major honours.
Keegan resigned in early 1997, telling supporters: “It was my decision and my decision alone to resign.
“I feel I have taken the club as far as I can, and that it would be in the best interests of all concerned if I resigned now.
“I wish the club and everyone concerned with it all the best for the future.”
And it has now come to light that Newcastle wanted United manager Ferguson to replace Keegan.
The Red Devils had pipped the Tyneside outfit to the Premier League title the previous May and former Newcastle owner Sir John Hall was desperate to go one better.
Hall recalls former United chairman Martin Edwards’ fury at the approach by Newcastle.
“Kevin was a hard act to follow, but Alex Ferguson would have done nicely. He was the best in the business,” the now 88-year-old said.
“We needed someone to keep up the momentum when Kevin left in 1997 and the lads felt they had a chance of snatching Alex from Manchester United, where he had already turned the club around to win plenty of trophies.
“Our former chairman Freddy Shepherd, who has since sadly passed away, revealed what happened a few years after our failed Ferguson coup.
“He told me, ‘Martin Edwards, the Manchester United chairman, had obviously got wind of what was going on.
“He rang me and asked if I had got anything to tell him – like Alex Ferguson? I was on a boat at the time and I almost fell off it’.”
“It would have been great if we had pulled it off and he came to manage Newcastle United, but we didn’t do too badly. We managed to get Kenny Dalglish instead.”
Ferguson went on to famously win the Champions League two years later with a squad built around United’s talented academy products such as Gary Neville, David Beckham, Nicky Butt and Ryan Giggs.
The Scot ended his incredible 27 years in charge at Old Trafford in 2013 with a whopping 13 league titles, five FA Cups, four League Cups and two Champions Leagues.