Sir Alex Ferguson sensationally resigned as Manchester United boss 12 months before he led the club to their unprecedented treble triumph in the 1998/99 season.
That is according to former Red Devils chairman Martin Edwards who, in an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail, made the shock revelation about the legendary United manager's blink-and-you'll-miss-it departure in July 1998.
Ferguson and his squad had just been pipped to the Premier League title by Arsene Wenger's Arsenal juggernaut and Edwards explained how his and the rest of the board's honesty with Ferguson led the Scot to almost call time on his Old Trafford career 15 years earlier than he eventually did.
Edwards recalled: "We hadn't won anything and to be honest we were dissatisfied. We wondered if Alex had taken his eye off the ball a little and if his celebrity status and interest in horses had maybe not helped.
"So we told him our feelings and (ex-CEO) Roland Smith thought we should follow it up with a letter. He received it and came pretty much straight back in to see me. He was furious, saying: 'If that's what you think of me then get stuffed… I am resigning'. And off he went."
Edwards stated, however, that Ferguson quickly withdrew his resignation announcement after supposed talks with his family or lawyer, and added that he was glad - with hindsight - to see Ferguson stay on and lead the English giants to trophy success on an unparalleled level the following campaign.
He said: "I can't say I was particularly concerned as I thought he would come back. Happily, I was right!
"He had obviously had a word with somebody. It could have been his solicitor who would have told him that if he resigned he wouldn't be entitled to any money. But I don't know, I am speculating.
"But there is no point in worrying. If you feel it's the right thing to do — and I know it was — then you have to take the consequences. He was going to respond one way or the other and I would have been hugely unpopular had he walked. But the next year we won the treble so thank goodness he didn't go!
Best comment is about Utd fans not liking any chairman/owner and he is correct....good job Martin, especially challenging Fergie— Paul Hyslop (@PaulHyslop) September 2, 2017
"Alex was brilliant and hugely successful. There weren't many blips. But if you are writing a book then you have to put the whole story in don't you?"
The book which Edwards refers to is his upcoming his self-penned publication entitled 'Red Glory: Manchester United and Me', which will be available to buy from all known retailers on 20th.