Manchester United had Pep Guardiola “aligned” to replace Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013 but eventually opted for David Moyes, says Jordi Cruyff.
Various options were considered by the Red Devils as they prepared to bid farewell to an iconic manager.
The Moyes experiment proved to be a disaster, as the Scot lasted just nine months at Old Trafford, and Cruyff claims that United could have appointed a man who has just led arch-rivals City to title glory.
The former Red Devils forward, who is now in charge of Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv, told Sky Sports: "I've always felt, not now but before Guardiola went to Bayern Munich, I always felt there was a chance that Manchester United had the chance to go for it.
"I think there was a moment where things were lined up, it was there, but Man United chose someone else, I'm talking many years ago, and he took a different way.
"I think he would have suited a club like Man Utd many years before. I'm not talking this era, not now, I'm talking like five or six years ago I think.
"There was a moment where things were aligned, that was the moment, and United took a different path."
Having avoided a difficult position at Old Trafford, Guardiola has flourished across Manchester at the Etihad Stadium.
A trophyless debut campaign has been followed by a Premier League and Carabao Cup double, but Cruyff admits the Catalan has stepped into “a warm bath” at City – with the club prepared to embrace a philosophy shaped at Camp Nou.
The son of Barcelona legend Johan, added: "Everyone is talking about Man City, but people shouldn't forget that Guardiola kind of came to a warm bath.
"The main point for him was that for him at City there was Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain, who worked with him at Barcelona in a successful period.
"So Guardiola came, the club knew his way of thinking, and he knew their way of thinking. Obviously they are on one line from the start. Guardiola arrived at a place where they both knew how things functioned."