SIR Alex Ferguson has revealed the reasons why he turned down the chance to manage the club he once played for - one of them being that he refused to stab Rangers legend Willie Waddell in the back.

Ferguson, in an interview with Rangers Monthly magazine, also names Richard Gough, the former Ibrox captain, as the ideal man to succeed Dick Advocaat as manager of Rangers when, and if, the Dutchman decides to call it a day.

The Manchester United manager also says he would love to succeed Craig Brown as Scotland manager - if he were 10 years younger, but he believes Alex McLeish to be his natural successor as Scotland's finest manager.

In the interview, Ferguson, the most successful Scottish manager of all time, tells why he refused the invitation to become manager of Rangers in 1984.

He says he was sorely tempted to quit Aber-deen for Ibrox, but that

it was the source

of the offer which prompted his decision and his refusal to stab Ibrox legend Waddell in the back.

''Of course I was tempted,'' he said. ''I thought about going and had a family meeting. But there was one strange thing - Willie Waddell (the general manager) hadn't asked me.

''Willie could be difficult at times, but he was a good manager and person, and I didn't want to take the job without Willie knowing about it.''

There was another reason - Fergie's vision of the future of Rangers was not matched by that of Ibrox director John Paton.

Said Ferguson: ''I asked John how big he wanted Rangers to become and he asked me what I meant and I replied 'Do you want to win the league with the Scottish players, or do you want more than that?' I had a vision way beyond the Scottish League for Rangers.

''I asked him why the club

didn't have the best players from England. It wasn't difficult, it was just a matter of finding who you wanted and then buying them.

''My chairman at Aberdeen, Dick Donald, never gave me a lot of money. He would never go into the red, but I knew Rangers had the cash.

''If I had gone to Ibrox, I would definitely have done well. I would have started a good youth development scheme and the club would be reaping the benefits now.''

Ferguson still holds a keen interest in the future of his former club and knows a similar type to himself who would jump at the chance to succeed Dick Advocaat as manager - Richard Gough.

Sir Alex said: ''Richard Gough will make a great manager. I am sure you will see him making the step up, and being a Rangers fan, he may well end up at Ibrox.

''He is very decisive and tactically great. Anyone who goes into management has to be good at making decisions. If you can't make up your mind, you will be no use.''

While Manchester United have scaled the heights in Europe - winning the Champions Cup in Barcelona two years ago - Rangers' domination of the domestic game has not been transferred to the big arena.

The Old Trafford manager believes that one of the principal reasons for that failure is lack of competition on the home front.

''The expectations are very high, but you must remember the level of competition Rangers face in Scotland doesn't help. They must be playing some of their games in second gear.''

Ferguson has already had one spell as Scotland manager

following the death of Jock Stein in 1985, but he insists that there is no chance of him doing the job again. He will be 60 next year and admits he would jump at the chance to succeed Craig Brown in charge of the international team, if he was 10 years younger.

He says: ''Of course I would. As long as I had done everything here. But it's hard to lift yourself for another challenge, and I don't think I could do that now. I don't think I could start all over again.

''It was a bad time when I managed Scotland and I was still in charge at Pittodrie. It was too

difficult. When I took the job Aberdeen were top of the league, but ended up third. That shows the impact it had.

''Now I would be more ready for it and I have greater knowledge. But experience is a wonderful thing.''

Alex McLeish, one of the key players in the highly successful Aberdeen team of the late seventies and eighties, has become one of the most sought after young managers in Britain after establishing Hibs as the main rivals to the Old Firm.

However, Ferguson is not in the least surprised that McLeish has made such an impact at Easter Road, pointing out that he is not so dissimilar to himself.

''They are playing lovely football. Hibs are expressing and enjoying themselves, and it's all down to the manager,'' says Ferguson. ''Hibs are a happy team, just like we are at United. That quality comes from good communication and Alex is doing a great job. Teams in Scotland can challenge the Old Firm and they can solve the problem by following the lead of guys like Alex.

''The Old Firm have been stopped in the past by clubs like Hibs, Aberdeen and Hearts. When I was at Pittodrie I had the same handicaps as they face now, but still managed to do it.''

Finally, how would the Old Firm do in the Premiership, and, perhaps more to the point, does the Premiership need Rangers and Celtic? Ferguson says: ''Of course, it would benefit Rangers to play in the Premiership. But they wouldn't just walk into it.

''Rangers would have to start in the lower leagues. I'm sure English teams wouldn't be happy at them gaining automatic entry. But the big question is: does the Premiership need Rangers or Celtic?

''Rangers could play in the Premiership, but they wouldn't win it, although they may challenge eventually. After a couple of seasons, they would attract better players. But it would take a long time to get established.''



I would have started a new youth set-up and they would be reaping the benefits now



He has the qualities to make a great manager and may well end up at Ibrox



It was a bad time when I managed the national team. I would be more ready for it now



He is doing a great job. Other clubs can compete with the Old Firm if they follow his lead