Sir Alex Ferguson confirms in his autobiography that Tony Blair did consult him over his problems with Gordon Brown, but denies specifically advising the prime minister to sack his then-chancellor.

Ferguson's recollection chimes with the passage in Blair's memoirs, in which he asked the Manchester United manager: "What would you do if your best player won't do what you want him to and just does his own thing?"

"Chuck him out of the team," Ferguson is said to have responded.

Ferguson himself recalls: "My answer was that the most important thing is control. The minute they threaten your control, you have to get rid of them. He did say he was having problems with Gordon but he never asked me specifically what I thought he should do."