Newcastle United attempted to lure Sir Alex Ferguson to St James’ Park after Kevin Keegan walked out of the club in 1997, according to former chairman Freddy Shepherd.
However, despite making an approach for the Scot, Shepherd called off talks after he believed the United great was “using” the Tyneside club in order to attract a better deal for himself to remain at Old Trafford.
Shepherd claims that the Magpies were showing their ambition in trying to land the most successful Premier League manager ever to the club, but knew when to accept failure in his pursuit.
“When Keegan left we tried to get Ferguson to Newcastle as his replacement” Shepherd said when speaking to the Newcastle Evening Chronicle.
“We had talks with his advisors at the time. We soon realised there was no way he was going to come to Newcastle.
“He was just trying to get an increase in salary. We knew we were just being used. We were ambitious, we tried to get him – at least we tried.”
Ferguson went on to win the fourth of 13 Premier League titles during his United career in 1997, with the Magpies holding on to second in the league after they eventually appointed Kenny Dalglish following Keegan’s shock exit in January of 1997.
Shepherd eventually left the club in 2007 when he sold his remaining shares to current owner Mike Ashley, and the club have not won a trophy since 1955 as their silverware draught approaches an incredible 60 years.
But Shepherd did claim victory in one battle as United tried to beat his club to the signing of striker Alan Shearer the year before, when they landed the England international from Blackburn in the summer of 1996.
Then Rovers owner Jack Walker favoured the offer from Newcastle much more than United’s, and even told Shepherd that the asking price was £10m lower for the Tyneside club than their Premier League rivals.