By London correspondent Tony Hughes
West Ham were two hours away from appointing Rafael Benitez as their new manager before he was enticed to Real Madrid, according to co-chairman David Sullivan.
The former Liverpool and Chelsea manager was in the frame to succeed Sam Allardyce at the east London club last summer before he agreed to take charge of Real.
Sullivan has revealed that West Ham were also interested in Jurgen Klopp before they eventually appointed former Croatia manager Slaven Bilic.
“We were two hours from getting Benitez and then Real came in,” Sullivan told the BBC. “We had agreed a contract and everything.”
Benitez has had a rocky start to his Real reign, with supporters calling for him and club president Florentino Perez to go after they were thrashed 4-0 by rivals Barcelona in Madrid last month.
Nevertheless, Sullivan has no reservations about the calibre of the man who has managed Napoli and Valencia in addition to Real, Liverpool and Chelsea.
“He is a top manager, whatever anybody says, and I think he’d have done a wonderful job for us,” Sullivan said.
“We tried (Jurgen) Klopp as well but he wouldn’t come because he said he wanted a break. But I’m glad with the manager we have got.”