Botched Bale transfer haunts Ferguson
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted he let Gareth Bale slip through his fingers when the Welsh wizard was still plying his trade with Southampton.
Bale has had a fantastic campaign with Tottenham, who he joined from St. Mary's in 2007, driving the club towards a Premier League top-four spot and a place in next season's Champions League.
Spurs sit in fifth position on the table, just two points off fourth placed Arsenal with a game in hand.
And the 23-year-old was duly recognised for his efforts when he became only the second player to win the Football Writers' award in the same season as the PFA Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards.
However, it could have been vastly different for Bale and Ferguson had the 71-year-old manager's interest in the then young left-back been scuppered by an offer from the north of London.
"We were disappointed in Southampton at the time because we were first there, but they never came back to us," Ferguson told The Telegraph.
"It was not the boy who turned us down, it was Southampton, then a few weeks later he signed for Tottenham Hotspur.
"He (Bale) was a left-back when we tried to sign him. It wasn't until Harry (Redknapp) went to Tottenham that he converted him into a wide left player.
"He reminds me a bit of when we signed Lee Sharpe. He was a six foot, gangly, slim boy, but all of a sudden. He was built like a light heavyweight boxer.
"Bale is the same in the way he has developed in the last two years physically. He has matured very well."
And despite Bale condemning Robin van Persie fine debut season with United to nothing more than a goal tally by sweeping all this season's awards, Ferguson believed Bale was more than a worthy winner.
"Maybe Robin is a little bit unlucky in that he hit a quiet spell for a while and didn't score at the time Bale was bashing them in from all sorts of distances, so he had the edge," Ferguson said.
"But in the last few weeks, Robin's performances have been fantastic when Bale has been quiet. His game has tapered off a bit.
"I don't think you could dispute it (the vote). Some of the goals Bale has scored this year have been fantastic."