Manchester United made no attempt to hijack Pep Guardiola's move to Manchester City, according to Sky sources.
City stole the Deadline Day headlines by announcing that Guardiola will replace Manuel Pellegrini as manager when he leaves Bayern Munich in the summer.
A statement from the Etihad said first contact with Guardiola was made "in recent weeks", but it is understood United have been prepared for the announcement for months.
And sources say the early confirmation has spared United the temptation of entering a summer fight for football's most in-demand manager, which was always likely to have just one winner.
Current United boss Louis van Gaal has a year to run on his Old Trafford contract.