Sir Alex Ferguson has dramatically resigned as Manchester United manager just days before the start of his treble-winning season.
In a stunning turn of events after the 1997/98 season, Ferguson resigned from his position at Old Trafford before regaining it again.
It came after United’s board at the time, which consisted of then-chairman Martin Edwards and Sir Roland Smith, chairman of the club’s PLC, expressed doubts about Ferguson’s focus.
The inside story he revealed timeswas the season that followed United’s loss to the league title by one point against Arsenal, after winning four of the previous five seasons.
Ahead of the new season, Edwards and Smith told Ferguson: “We’re concerned about your focus.”
Their concerns about this came from speaking at a time when Ferguson was enjoying his “celebrity status” and his passion for horse racing.
Ferguson, baffled from the line of questioning, directly wondered if they were trying to force him out of the club – which he emphasized was no such thing.
Transfers have also been a contentious topic within the club’s hierarchy, with Ferguson pushing to sign Dwight Yorke despite suspicions from assistant Brian Kidd and other members of United’s board.
After the meeting, Edwards wrote a letter to Ferguson on his return to pre-season training outlining all the concerns the board had.
Edwards then revealed that within hours Ferguson stormed the office raging and announced that he was resigning: “The language Alex used was a little more fancy, but that was the gist of it.
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“Well, if that’s the way you feel, Alex, we’ll have to accept that,” Edwards replied, confident of the former Aberdeen coach’s bluff.
Fortunately for United, the trick worked and Ferguson withdrew his request later in the day.
Gordon Strachan described Ferguson as “driven by rage”, and Ferguson was full of him after head-butting early in the season.
It paid dividends as United won an unprecedented treble that year – a feat yet to be replicated in English football.
United also went on to win the next three Premier League titles, another feat yet to be replicated by a club or coach other than Ferguson’s United.