LONDON - Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson has claimed that he signed a contract to succeed Alex Ferguson at Manchester United in 2002.
The Swede, who coached England between 2001 and 2006, made the claim in his new autobiography, in which he also revealed that he clashed with Ferguson over Wayne Rooney's participation at the 2006 World Cup.
Ferguson announced that he would step down as United manager in 2002 and although he later reversed his decision, Eriksson says he struck a deal with the club to replace the Scot.
In an extract from his book published in British newspaper the Mail on Sunday, Eriksson wrote: "I knew it would be tricky. I had a contract with England until the 2006 World Cup and I would be severely criticised if I broke that contract.
"But this was an opportunity to manage Manchester United. A contract was signed - I was United's new manager."
Eriksson included Rooney in his squad for the 2006 World Cup in Germany despite the striker having broken a bone in his foot shortly before the squad was announced.
Eriksson claims that Ferguson did not want to release Rooney for the tournament, prompting a clash between him and England doctor Leif Sward.
"Leif and I met Ferguson and United's doctor at the United training ground," Eriksson wrote.
"'He cannot play in the World Cup', Ferguson said flatly. The doctor brought out some X-rays that he said showed Rooney's broken bone would not heal in time.
"When the doctor finished, Leif looked him in the eye. 'Why do you sit here and lie to me?' Leif asked.
"He was one of Europe's foremost specialists on this kind of injury. I just wish I could have filmed Ferguson's face when Leif explained that Wayne's break would heal in time for the World Cup.
"When Leif had finished, I turned to Ferguson. 'Sorry, Alex,' I said. 'I will pick Rooney.'"
Rooney went to the tournament but underperformed and was sent off for stamping on Ricardo Carvalho during England's quarter-final against Portugal, who beat them on penalties.