Ottmar Hitzfeld, the Switzerland coach, said he turned down the opportunity to manage Manchester United in 2002. Hitzfeld was considered by the Old Trafford hierarchy when Sir Alex Ferguson said he would retire at the end of the 2001/02 season. United struggled following the announcement, and Ferguson decided to stay on. Hitzfeld is the third coach to claim they were approached to see if they were interested: with Sven-Goran Eriksson, who went on to become England's first foreign coach, and Louis van Gaal also claiming they were interested. Hitzfeld, 61, suggested he turned down the overtures from the Red Devils because of his concerns about his lack of English. He was Bayern Munich coach at the time. "I don't want to go into too many details because it was between myself and Manchester United, but I decided to stay in Germany because, when I am coaching I prefer to express myself in German because this is my mother tongue," he said. "I didn't think I would be able to do myself justice if I had to speak to the players in English. I would not be able to get my emotions and feelings across. "The players in the Swiss dressing room speak a variety of languages, including Italian, French and English, but when they come to work I coach them in German. "All the players understand it. If there are some special expressions required then one of my coaches might use a bit of Italian or French, but I coach them only in German and it is better that way."