(Reuters) - Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson says he signed a contract to replace Alex Ferguson at Manchester United when the Scot announced his intention to retire in 2002.
Ferguson stepped down after 27 years in charge at Old Trafford at the end of last season but had previously indicated that he would quit in 2002, a decision he later reversed.
Swede Eriksson says in his forthcoming autobiography, serialized by Britain’s Mail on Sunday newspaper, that he accepted a deal from former United chief executive Peter Kenyon to replace Ferguson while he was in charge of England.
“I knew it would be tricky,” said the 65-year-old who is now coach of Chinese Super League team Guangzhou R&F. “I had a contract with England until the 2006 World Cup and I would be severely criticized if I broke that contract.
“But this was an opportunity to manage Manchester United. A contract was signed - I was United’s new manager.”
Eriksson remained as England manager until after the 2006 World Cup after Ferguson decided to reverse his decision to retire.
That World Cup featured a club versus country row between Eriksson and Ferguson over United striker Wayne Rooney who broke his foot before the squad for the finals in Germany was named.
Eriksson alleged that Ferguson promised to “make my life very difficult” if he picked Rooney and said how he was “screaming into the phone” when trying to dissuade the Swede from picking him.
Reporting by Josh Reich; editing by Tony Jimenez