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23rd Apr 2018

Sir Alex Ferguson was looking to sign three German internationals before retiring

One has since ended up at Manchester City

Darragh Murphy

Sir Alex Ferguson was keen to keep his decision to retire as quiet as possible in 2013.

Wary of disrupting Manchester United’s Premier League title charge, Ferguson kept his plans under wraps until May, when his 27-year association with the club finally came to an end.

Having sensationally rowed back on his initial retirement decision in 2001, the Scot only let a handful of close friends in on his intention 12 years later.

Not even the coaching staff at Old Trafford was aware that Fergie was set to call time on his tenure prior to the official announcement.

Then-first team coach Rene Meulensteen has revealed that Ferguson had even been assembling a shortlist of players he wanted to sign in the summer of 2013.

“The fact that he was going to retire or finish came to me and a lot of others as a complete bombshell. He was as sharp as ever. He was always an early bird, always arriving early at Carrington. I didn’t read anything in him where it suggested it would be his last season,” Meulensteen told MEN Sport.

“We had very normal staff meetings regarding pre-season. That year we were going to Australia. Sir Alex even mentioned taking us to one of the best vineyards out there. I was looking forward to that! We had possible scouting meetings, possible players we were looking at in terms of trying to build a picture of what we think we need. All that was ongoing.

“We looked at a few German players like [Mats] Hummels, who went to Bayern Munich. I think we looked at [Ilkay] Gundogan and [Marco] Reus, too. There was a number of players but we never got that specific to really target them.”

As it turned out, United signed none of the three Germany internationals identified as targets by Ferguson and it wasn’t until two years later that Bastian Schweinsteiger became the first German player to be fielded by the Red Devils after he was brought in by Louis van Gaal.