Dublin, 23, had agreed personal terms with Chelsea, who confidently expected him to fill the striking vacancy created by Kerry Dixon's departure to Southampton, but instead of signing on at Stamford Bridge yesterday he had talks with United, and spent the rest of the day reconsidering his future.
United and an unnamed London club, understood to be Crystal Palace, had also agreed to pay the pounds 1m Cambridge were asking for their principal goalscorer. Aston Villa and Everton had declared their interest, and Dublin's agent, Graham Smith, said his client was weighing up the various options before making a decision 'within the next 48 hours'.
Alex Ferguson, the United manager, accepts that the lack of a consistent goalscorer cost his team the title in May, and is anxious to remedy the weakness before the new season gets under way, on Saturday week. Money is tight at Old Trafford these days, and he has turned to Dublin after losing out when Jack Walker's millions took Alan Shearer from Southampton to Blackburn Rovers.
Chelsea, also in need of forward reinforcement after selling Dixon and Clive Allen, were putting a brave face on it last night, but the pull of the most charismatic club of them all, and Dublin's misgivings about moving to London, point to only one outcome.
Reg Smart, Cambridge's chairman, confirmed that a deal was imminent, but he and his manager, John Beck, declined to comment on Dublin's likeliest destination.
Rick Holden, the Oldham Athletic winger, has agreed to a short but lucrative move to Manchester City, but a pounds 1.2m exchange package which would take Steve Redmond and Neil Pointon in the opposite direction has been jeopardised by a contractual dispute between Pointon and City.
The former Everton defender says he is owed money by the club, and is not prepared to move on until it is paid.
Mike Masters, who played for the United States during the summer tournament in which they beat Italy and the Republic of Ireland, is joining Reading on trial. Masters, a striker, had a spell with Colchester United last season.
The breakaway mooted by Scotland's leading clubs continues down the path followed by England's Premier League, with the Scottish authorities warning the elitists that their actions are unconstitutional, and threatening to take them to court.
The 12 would-be secessionists submitted written notice yesterday of their intention to quit and launch their own competition in two years' time, but received a dismissive reply.
'We have taken legal opinion,' Yule Craig, president of the Scottish League, said. 'As they have not specified a date for their withdrawal, the notice is invalid.
'Even if they told us the date tomorrow, we require a minimum of two full seasons, so they could not start their league until the beginning of 1995-96.'
Allan Harris, formerly Terry Venables's No 2 at Barcelona and Tottenham, has been given a 12- month contract as head coach of Kuwait Sporting Club.Reuse content