Ferguson says Beardsley, who made one League Cup appearance for United as a 21-year-old in 1982, was originally within their sights.
"Dion Dublin broke his leg against Palace," recalled the Scot during the London leg of his book tour.
"So we started scouring about trying to get someone in.
"Peter Beardsley wasn’t really playing for Everton at the time so I went to Martin Edwards’ office and said, 'Why don’t we try to sign Peter Beardsley?'.
"When I was in there the phone went, it was Bill Fotherby from Leeds asking if we’d sell Dennis Irwin.
"During the call I wrote Cantona’s name on his pad.
"They said they would come back to us in half an hour. Half an hour to discuss a player like Cantona? Something like that should have taken five days.
"I knew there was something up and they came back to us and said they’d sell him for £1million.
"We signed him the next day."
The rest, as they say, is history.
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