‘My dream ticket’ – David Dein reveals approach to bring Alex Ferguson to Arsenal before Manchester United move but board member preferred George Graham appointment with Johan Cruyff also considered September 11, 2022 – Posted in: Soccer
Former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein has revealed he wanted to bring Alex Ferguson to the club before his move to Manchester United.
Ferguson was manager of Aberdeen when Don Howe resigned as Arsenal boss in 1986 and history could have been very different.
Dein was leaning towards a move for Ferguson, but another board member pushed for the appointment of former player George Graham.
Dein said his dream ticket was the legendary Man United boss as Gunners’ manager with Graham as his no.2 but the latter appeared to tick the relevant boxes for the top job.
“I had this idea to get Alex Ferguson to succeed Don Howe, while another board member suggested George Graham,” Dein wrote in the Daily Mail.
“George did tick a lot of the boxes. He looked the part and, as a former player from the 1971 double team, he knew the Arsenal values.
“That held a lot of sway with the board. Some notably bigger names were mooted, including Terry Venables and Johan Cruyff, but in the end it was really between Alex and George.
“The board thought George could do the job. He was young, aspiring and hungry. He was elegant and always well turned-out. He started lower down to learn the ropes of management.”
Dein continued: “He knew a lot of the lower-division players, which was an asset in England, to try to mould something with smart recruitment.
“But while George had the Arsenal connection, he had yet to cut his teeth in the big time. He was at Millwall in the lower divisions and that was his first managerial job. I thought it might be a risk. Alex, on the other hand, had more experience and more success.
“His Aberdeen team had been a revelation and won impressively, including in Europe. So I floated the idea of a double act — that we bring Alex in as no.1 with George to be his no.2.
“The combination could be a dream ticket, the two Scotsmen combining a lot of qualities with the potential to be even more ambitious in the top division in England. I knew Alex and knew the chairman of Aberdeen, Dick Donald. I sounded him out delicately to see if Alex would be interested.”
By the time a decision had to be made, Ferguson had already won three Scottish top-flight league titles and led Aberdeen to the Cup Winners’ Cup three-years earlier.
Dein was confident in Ferguson’s ability to continue his success in north London but ultimately succumbed to the idea that Graham was the right fit for the Gunners.
“In the end, I went along with the decision to appoint George. He wanted more money than we ended up offering. I remember him saying: ‘This is not what I was looking for but if I am successful, then I won’t be cheap!
“True to his word, he would come to the office the day after winning a trophy to remind us.”