ALEX Ferguson admits he was once asked to sell legendary Dons captain Willie Miller.
In his latest book, Leading, the former Manchester United and Dons manager concedes he was fortunate Miller had all the right attributes to be his on-field leader at Aberdeen.
But their successful partnership was almost broken when Miller demanded a pay rise in the 1980s.
Ferguson admitted doing his bit to balance the books was a big part of his job at Pittodrie.
He said: “At Aberdeen I had a cavalcade of players, starting with Willie, coming into my office demanding pay hikes.
“Early in my career I got used to making the most from a little.
The best wages were between £250-£350 a week and Miller wanted £350. Dick Donald (the Dons chairman) wanted to sell him but I persuaded him that this would only start an exodus.
“Then his team-mate Alex McLeish showed up with his wife, and I eventually got him to accept a £50 rise.
“Finally, Doug Rougvie appeared and I told him ‘Doug, I’ve got this big cake and there’s a cherry on the top. Willie Miller is taking three-quarters of it and the cherry.
“I have a quarter of the cake left for everyone – what do you want me to do?’
“He was dissatisfied, so we let him go to Chelsea.”
Miller, was already the club captain when Ferguson took over at Aberdeen in 1978 and remained so until he retired from playing in 1990.
Ferguson said: “When I arrived I didn’t have to worry about picking a leader for the team.
“Willie was the captain when I got there and when I left, which was a tribute to his ability and fitness.”
Fergie also underlines in his book how important it is to choose the right on-field general.
He said: “I was looking for four principal virtues in a captain.
“The first was a desire to lead on the field.
“The second was someone I could trust to convey my desires.
“The third was a person whom the other players would respect and whose instructions they would follow.
“I also wanted captains capable of adapting to changing circumstances.
“No general is going to win a war unless his colonels and majors can muster the troops, galvanise them into action, and help them defy the odds.”