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Sir Alex Ferguson resigned as Man United manager on the eve of the treble-winning 1998-99 season

REVEALED: Sir Alex Ferguson resigned as manager of Man United on the eve of the 1998-99 season that won the triple, when he asked the club ‘do you want me to stop it for a day?’ before making a U-turn in less than 24 hours later

  • Legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson almost left Manchester United in 1998
  • Then-chairman Martin Edwards questioned Ferguson about his outside interests
  • The Scot handed over his resignation to Edwards before withdrawing it later that day
  • United won the treble that year and are the only English club to do so

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Sir Alex Ferguson resigned as Manchester United manager on the eve of the 1998-99 season before making a reversal, a new book reveals.

The legendary boss had spent 12 years in charge at Old Trafford in the summer of 1998, but was forced to resign after a heated discussion with then United chairman Martin Edwards.

1997-98 had been a disappointing campaign for the club as the only trophy they won was the Community Shield and they lost a 12-point lead at the top of the Premier League table to lose the title to Arsenal.

Sir Alex Ferguson resigned as Manchester United manager on the eve of the 1998-99 season

Sir Alex Ferguson resigned as Manchester United manager on the eve of the 1998-99 season

As reported by The timesa book coming out next week called 1999: Manchester United, the Treble and all that describes how Edwards believed Ferguson averted his gaze from the ball and enjoyed his “celebrity status” too much.

When his outside interests were questioned, Ferguson reportedly replied, “Would you like to stop?”

“If you don’t see that I am the best person to judge which players should be bought by the club, I might as well leave now,” the Scot added when asked about United’s transfer goals.

Edwards – who is now honorary chairman of United – later put his criticism to Ferguson in writing, which is said to have prompted the Scotsman to storm into his office to confirm that he wanted to resign.

He made the decision after a heated meeting with then United chairman Martin Edwards

He made the decision after a heated meeting with then United chairman Martin Edwards

He made the decision after a heated meeting with then United chairman Martin Edwards

But Ferguson made a U-turn later that day and the club won the treble in 1999

But Ferguson made a U-turn later that day and the club won the treble in 1999

But Ferguson made a U-turn later that day and the club won the treble in 1999

“The language Alex used was a little more fruity, but that was the essence of it,” Edwards says in 1999: Manchester United, the Treble and all that, according to The Times. The then chairman replied, “Well, if that’s how you feel, Alex, we’ll have to accept it.”

Later that day, however, Ferguson called Edwards to withdraw his resignation.

“I think he spoke to his lawyer, who probably said, ‘Well, you won’t get a dime from the two remaining years of your contract,'” Edwards says in the new book.

“So he withdrew his resignation, which I gladly did. All I wanted to do was shake it up a bit and get us back on track. He’d done the double in 1994 and 1996, won the league in 1997, so it wasn’t like he was a bad manager. It was just a matter of “let’s get back on track”.

Edwards and Ferguson win the Premier League trophy together after United's 2002 title win

Edwards and Ferguson win the Premier League trophy together after United's 2002 title win

Edwards and Ferguson win the Premier League trophy together after United’s 2002 title win

“In 1998, just after Christmas, we had a huge 11-point lead and we ruined it. When it came down to it, we still supported him with signings. But if we wanted to spend that kind of money, we had to be absolutely sure he was 100 percent on board. And I think the combination of that letter plus the transfer purchases, we did what was necessary.”

United won the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League that season, making them the only English side in history to win the treble.

Ferguson was said to be planning to leave Old Trafford in 2001 after falling again with the club’s board, stating that he intended to retire at the end of his contract.

Still, he made another U-turn and stayed with the club, before finally leaving in 2013 after a record-breaking 27-year stint as manager during which he won 13 league titles.


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