Former Manchester United chairman Martin Edwards has revealed that the club's number one choice to replace Sir Alex Ferguson in 2001 was, perhaps surprisingly, Arsenal boss Arsène Wenger.
Ferguson first announced his intention to step down in the 2001/02 season before performing a u-turn later in the campaign and eventually staying at Old Trafford until 2013.
However, with the iconic Scot considering leaving United, the Red Devils were forced to look at possible replacements.
In his new autobiography, Red Glory, Edwards has confirmed that United made contact with Wenger in their search for a successor.
Our first choice was Arsène. Since joining Arsenal in 1996 Wenger had been greatly successful, especially in his first full season in charge when he won the Double.
And while it's true to say he suffered hard times since, at the time we thought he was the best candidate to replace Alex. Certainly he was my number one choice.
So we made our approach and Wenger did show a little bit of interest, enough to want to meet Peter Kenyon and me at his house in London to listen to what we had to say. In fact, we had a couple of meetings with him and for a while we thought there was a possibility of him joining us.
Despite several meetings between Wenger and United, Edwards believes the Frenchman's loyalty to Arsenal's then-vice chairman David Dein kept him at North London.
I think Wenger felt loyalty to David Dein. He was very close to David and that was the reason he gave us in the end for turning down United.
He felt that he had started something with Arsenal and that his attachment to the club was too great, he didn't want to break that bond.