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25th Sep 2017

Alex Ferguson made his mind up about Franck Ribery very quickly

Fergie wasn't a fan

Robert Redmond

Fergie wasn’t impressed.

Sir Alex Ferguson refused the opportunity to sign Franck Ribery – after watching him for just 45 minutes.

Back in February 2006, the former Manchester United manager went along to the Reebok Stadium to see Bolton Wanderers play Marseille in the knock-out stages of the Uefa Cup. Ferguson was in attendance to scout Ribery, and Alastair Campbell tagged along. Campbell was communications chief to former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, and a friend of Ferguson.

“Alex was watching Franck Ribery, the Marseilles winger,” Campbell writes in his diaries covering 2005 to 2007, “but decided by half-time that he was not good enough for United.”

Ribery went on to impress at the World Cup in Germany that summer, and sign for Bayern Munich the following summer for €25m, which was a big fee at the time and Bayern’s most expensive transfer. The French winger would become one of the best players in the world and won the Champions League in 2013.

Sometimes scouting can go wrong, even for a club as successful as United and Ferguson, one of the best managers of all time. In 2007, Martin Ferguson, the former United manager’s brother and chief scout for the club, told him he had found a player who would be better than Wayne Rooney. That player was Anderson.

“Martin said: ‘Alex, he’s better than [Wayne] Rooney.’ Martin was adamant,” Ferguson wrote in his autobiography.

Campbell also details how Ferguson wanted Sam Allardyce to replace Sven Goran Eriksson as England manager in 2006, and he had three players in mind to fill the void in the United midfield after Roy Keane left in 2005.

Michael Carrick joined the club from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2006, but they missed out on Marcos Senna from Villarreal and Javier Mascherano, who would sign for West Ham United on-loan later that summer, before joining Liverpool.