The Scot had announced his intention to quit football at the end of the 2001-02 season, and Eriksson has claimed in his new autobiography that he was approached by the Red Devils to succeed him.
Less than a year into his reign as England manager, Eriksson had agreed to take charge at Old Trafford after the World Cup in the summer, before Ferguson decided to stay on, initially for another three years.
"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," Eriksson wrote. "But this was an opportunity to manage Manchester United, probably the biggest club in the world. A contract was signed - I was United's new manager.
"I would be able to stay with England through the World Cup. My appointment would not be made official until after the tournament.
"A couple of weeks passed and Pini [Zahavi, my agent] called again. He wanted another meeting. When I got there, I knew something was wrong. [Peter] Kenyon explained Ferguson had changed his mind."