Ferguson: 'Chelsea tried to recruit me'

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The Independent Football

Sir Alex Ferguson has claimed that he was approached during the summer to take over Claudio Ranieri's job as the Chelsea manager.

Ferguson said he was sounded out shortly after Roman Abramovich's takeover of the London club, but the Manchester United manager said he rejected the overtures, adding that it would take "something catastrophic" to make him leave Old Trafford.

The news would appear to cast more doubt on Ranieri's long-term future at Chelsea, with the England coach, Sven-Goran Eriksson, also having been linked with the job. The revelation comes just days after Peter Kenyon left his role as United's chief executive to take up the same post at Stamford Bridge.

"I am manager of Manchester United and it would be something absolutely catastrophic for me to leave the club," Ferguson said yesterday. "My whole life is Manchester United. When you become manager of this club you get woven into the fabric of the place."

Kenyon's successor, David Gill, will continue with plans to offer Ferguson a new contract, and also revealed yesterday that Kenyon's contract prevented him from "blatant poaching" of United's staff after his departure.

Gill said: "Peter is an able businessman and I am sure he will have ideas to take Chelsea forward but we have 54 million fans around the globe. We have 11 million in the UK and these fans are with us from cradle to grave.

"With all due respect to Chelsea they won't change. Some are fickle and some youngsters might choose Chelsea if they are much, much more successful but the majority are here for life.

"I am sure Peter will do a very good job at Chelsea. I am sure they will be competitive on and off the field but we have so many strengths they can't replicate.

"Peter is precluded from his contract against deliberate or blatant poaching. But knowing the man as I do, I don't think there will be a lot of that."

Gill added: "We are very pleased to have Alex as manager and we want it to continue. It is early days regarding the manager's contract. All I will say, as Peter had said and he was speaking on behalf of the board, we are positive about it and we won't get into a situation like last time. That will move ahead soon."