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Ferguson: Ozil not on United's radar

ESPN staff
October 22, 2013 « Rooney asked to leave - Ferguson | Chartbeat test »
Wenger is concerned that Ferguson's book has been released too soon

Sir Alex Ferguson has said that Mesut Ozil was 'not on Manchester United's radar' in the summer of 2010, despite Wayne Rooney urging the club to sign him.

Ozil played a starring role as Germany beat England 4-1 in the second round of the 2010 World Cup alerting Rooney to the potential of the Werder Bremen player. However, Real Madrid would go on to sign Ozil along with his international teammate Sami Khedira.

The revelation also follows news that David Moyes turned down the chance to sign Ozil this summer.

"The thing was Ozil was not on our radar," Ferguson said at the news conference to launch his book 'Alex Ferguson: My Autobiography'.

"I said that to Wayne at the time. We signed Chicharito [Javier Hernandez] that summer. My thoughts at the time were a Rooney and Chicharito partnership. That was a fair prospect for us to look at. When Ozil was at Werder [Bremen] he played wide right initially, then towards the second part of that season they played him off the front.

"He was part of the great Germany Under-21 team that went to South Africa. That type of player was not necessarily on our radar, a No. 10. I told Wayne: 'Leave the signing of players to me.' We've got lots of them right."

In the book Ferguson remembers thinking that Rooney's comments were designed to engineer a move away from United or an improved contract, something he eventually did in October 2010.

"I felt he'd been programmed in what he was trying to say." Ferguson wrote in his book. "The basis of his complaint was that we were not sufficiently ambitious. My response was to ask Wayne: 'When have we not challenged for the league in the last 20 years? How many European finals have we been to in the last three or four years?' I told him that to say we weren't ambitious was nonsense.

"Wayne said that we should have pursued Mesut Ozil, who had joined Real Madrid from Werder Bremen. My reply was that it was none of his business who we should have gone for. I told him it was his job to play and perform. My job was to pick the correct teams. And so far I had been getting it right."

Sir Alex Ferguson attended a press conference in promotion of his new autobiography © Getty Images
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On his rivalry with Rafa Benitez: "The mistake he made was to turn our rivalry personal. Once you made it personal, you had no chance because I could wait. I had success on my side. Benitez was striving for trophies while also taking me on. That was unwise.

"So, on television he puts his glasses on and produces this sheet of paper. Facts. The facts were all wrong. All I said in reply was that Rafa was obviously bitter about something. That was me saying to him: look, you're a silly man. You should never make it personal.

"The advance publicity was that Benitez was a control freak, which turned out to be correct."

On keeping Cristiano Ronaldo at Old Trafford for an extra year: "I did well to calm him down, I told him the reason I was refusing to sell him that year was because of Calderon. I said: 'If I do that, all my honour's gone, everything's gone for me, and I don't care if you have to sit in the stands… I will not let you leave this year."

On the boot incident that spelt the end for David Beckham: "He was around 12 feet from me. Between us on the floor lay a row of boots. David swore. I moved towards him, and as I approached I kicked a boot.

"It hit him right above the eye. Of course he rose to have a go at me and the players stopped him. 'Sit down,' I said. 'You've let your team down. You can argue as much as you like.' I called him in the next day to go through the video and he still would not accept his mistake. He didn't say a word. Not a word. The next day the story was in the press. In public, an Alice band highlighted the damage inflicted by the boot.

"It was in those days that I told the board David had to go... David thought he was bigger than Alex Ferguson. There is no doubt in my mind. It doesn't matter whether it's Alex Ferguson or Pete the Plumber. The name of the manager is irrelevant. The authority is what counts, You cannot have a player taking over the dressing room... That was the death knell for him."

On Roy Keane: "The hardest part of Roy's body is his tongue. He has the most savage tongue you can imagine. He can debilitate the most confident person in the world in seconds with that tongue. What I noticed about him that day as I was arguing with him that his eyes started to narrow, almost to wee black beads. It was frightening to watch. And I'm from Glasgow. Carlos called it 'the worst imaginable spectacle in the life of a professional club.' 'He needs to go,' I said... I was finished with him."

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