United had to fend off competition from rival clubs for Powell's signature but Sir Alex was determined to win the chase for the 18 year-old after witnessing his talents first hand.
"There was a lot of speculation," revealed Gradi to MUTV. "Sir Alex came to watch him and then rang me up a couple of days later and said: 'Do you want to do a deal?' I said: 'I thought you were going to watch him for the rest of the season!' Sir Alex explained they were not going to learn much more about him as they'd got him down to a tee. We didn't want to stop the boy joining United so we worked together on an agreement.
"There were [other clubs interested] but I have to say Sir Alex wanted Nick more than anybody else did and worked harder at it. I was very impressed with the way Sir Alex went about it and what he said. If he was trying to sign me, I'd have signed!
"What Sir Alex has done is challenge the boy to do what Ronaldo did. Young players worry about their chances of playing when they go to United. But Sir Alex told Nick, 'If you do well enough, you'll get a chance. Ronaldo went on as sub (on his debut against Bolton) and was outstanding so I picked him.' Nick has got to be good enough, first of all, in training to be named as a sub but that's the challenge Sir Alex has given him."