absolutely the preferred choice of all of us.
“We’d first met him when we signed Gordon Strachan from Aberdeen. Gordon had already signed a contract with Cologne and we really wanted to extricate him from that deal, so that’s when Alex came in. He was batting on Manchester United’s side, probably because he wanted him to come to United but also because the move would get Aberdeen more money if he did. So he was very helpful to us and that’s when I first got to know him.
“We knew how well he’d done in overtaking Glasgow Rangers and Celtic and he’d won the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1983 against the mighty Real Madrid, so his pedigree was there. When we actually met him and realised what a firebrand he was and saw the way he conducted himself, that really just confirmed how impressive he was.”
With the target agreed, United’s kingmakers nevertheless had to tread carefully. There was no guarantee that Ferguson would either want or be allowed to leave Pittodrie, especially in the midst of such spectacular and sustained feather-ruffling of Glasgow’s Old Firm.
“We didn’t want to end up with egg on our face,” admits Edwards. “We decided we’d better find out if Alex was willing to join us, so one of our directors, Mike Edelson, rang Aberdeen’s switchboard and put on a Scottish accent, used an assumed name [that of Alan Gordon, Gordon Strachan’s accountant] and asked to be put through to Alex Ferguson. Alex came on the phone, Mike told him I would like a word with him and he put me through. We arranged to see him that evening – Bonfire Night - up in Scotland and it was the usual cloak and dagger thing: myself, Mike, Bobby [Charlton] and Maurice [Watkins] met him at a petrol station, he drove us round to his sister-in-law’s house and we all met him. It just confirmed that he was the one that we wanted.
“But really what we wanted to know from him was if his chairman, Dick Donald, would allow him to leave. Alex made it quite plain that he wanted to join us, and he also said that he had an agreement with his chairman that he could leave if United came in. Alex had actually said that he wanted something in his contract that he could join a big team, and Dick Donald had said: ‘you’re only leaving if Manchester United come in’. That wasn’t difficult really. So I rang Dick Donald