Former Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn has revealed that he pursued new Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal about becoming the club's manager in 2009, and owner Ellis Short was prepared to back the Dutchman.
The former Black Cats striker also held talks with Roberto Mancini for the job at the Stadium of Light.
Quinn has said that he spoke to Van Gaal on two occasions once the club decided that then manager Ricky Sbragia would not remain in charge.
"Maybe some would say we'd delusions of grandeur but we had good feedback from Louis van Gaal," the Sunderland Echo quotes Quinn as saying.
"I spoke to him personally a couple of times on the phone at home. One time his wife answered and told me: 'Keep working on him, I want to go to England'. That was adventurous but Ellis was all set to back it if it came off.
"That was after Ricky. Roberto Mancini's people got in touch with us at that time too. He'd been having English lessons."
Hull City boss Steve Bruce succeeded Sbragia at Sunderland in June 2009.