Former United chief Martin Edwards recalled how the club were deep in negotiations with then England boss Eriksson when Fergie made his spectacular U-turn in February 2002.
"Alex had made the decision that he wanted to go at the end of the 2001-02 season," Edwards told the Mirror.
"I was still chairman at the time and the board's choice was to go for Sven Goran Eriksson.
"We were a long way down the road with those negotiations when Alex changed his mind and said he wanted to stay, to the delight of everybody.
"As soon as he decided to stay it was a huge relief, because we all felt he still had a lot of mileage in him, as has been proven."