Only ill health can force me out of Man United, Ferguson insists
The Manchester United boss famously went back on his decision to retire at the end of the 2001/02 season. People continue to speculate on when the 68-year-old will quit and who will replace him when that time comes, but Ferguson says that after nearly 24 years in charge at the club, he remains as driven as ever.
“I’m confident with the kind of person I am. I don’t think I will be changing at my age now. Do you think I will change?” he said in an interview to the Mail yesterday, in which he affirmed that he was not thinking of going anywhere at the moment.
“The thing I hope is that my health is OK. When you get to 68 years of age, you are not guaranteed anything. You hope you wake up in the morning. Over the last three or four years, I have lost a few scouts who have died. Great scouts, absolutely brilliant. All in their 60s.
“You are faced with that when you get to my age, where you are going to funerals of people you worked with or friends. So you say to yourself, ‘There for the grace of God that I am still here.’ And that is the only thing that determines you in connection with football. You couldn’t possibly do your job unless you were healthy.”
It took Ferguson until his fourth season at United to win his first trophy – the 1990 FA Cup – and he did not steer the side to the title for a further three years. Manager’s are rarely accorded that sort of time nowadays and the Scot believes it is this hasty, results-based culture that makes it difficult to single out a possible successor to his throne.
“You can talk about the successful managers right now who might be on everyone’s list. But in two years, they may not be, or even next year,” he added. “So it’s very difficult to say who would replace me when my time came.
“Manchester United would need somebody successful for that kind of job. Most clubs would look for the most successful manager on the horizon. But two years ahead, they may not be successful any more.
“It is a horrible game, a results industry and, as Roberto Mancini says, you can lose three games in Italy and get sacked. We’re getting a little bit like that ourselves.
“You think of Peter Reid, Ruud Gullit and Bobby Robson at Newcastle, sacked just into the new season. When you stoop to that level, you have absolutely no idea how to run a football club.”