LONDON: Sir Alex Ferguson believes he has at least a further two or three years left in his role as manager of Manchester United and, in any case, would retire only on the back of a success.
The 70-year-old Scot had been due to step down a decade ago but has justified his change of heart by winning five more Premier League titles to complement the seven he already had and adding a second Champions League triumph. He has also won the FA Cup and three League Cups during that time.
Ferguson, in a BBC interview, said: “The fact I have been successful means you don’t want to be in an era when you are not successful. Expectation is huge. I don’t know how long I can last now but if my health stays up I don’t think another two or three years would harm me any.
“I think you need stamina in my job. I am blessed with that. I’ll know when I’m not enjoying it and if I got to a point when I wasn’t enjoying it I would definitely do it (retire). But I think you always want to go out on a winning note. Hopefully we can do that.”
Not that he would totally go out. Ferguson said: “I would definitely finish – but I would remain active. I think there would be a role at United after I finish. All the players or their agents ask me how long I’ve got left when they sign a contract – it becomes more difficult the longer it goes. The way David Gill (chief executive) answers it is by saying ‘He has no intention of retiring at the moment’.”
Ferguson said there had been no discussions about his thoughts on a successor, adding: “Never discussed it – it is a dangerous game. At this moment in time there are about half-a-dozen managers doing very well in the Premier League, all the others are fighting for their lives.
“Is that going to be the same in two or three years’ time when I’m ready to quit? Some may have lost their job.”
Ferguson believes even he would find it difficult were he to have his time at United again.
“I think United need to have someone experienced. If I was coming into United today I would struggle because of the beast it is,” he said. “When I came in we were in a valley because Liverpool were the dominant team and United were well adrift from that so we had to rebuild the club and it wasn’t easy, it took time.
“But the experience I had was the success from Aberdeen and that gave me a chance in terms of respect from the dressing room and gave me self-confidence I could do the job. If I was taken from the job in Aberdeen today it would be a much more difficult task even though I was successful.”
One of the secrets of Ferguson’s success at United has been not only the way he has developed players but in the manner he has managed them as individuals.
He said: “The thing about picking teams is I had experiences as a player I wouldn’t want happening to my players. I tell them before why (they are not picked). By doing that you are giving them respect. All the players know they can trust me and I’ve had many come to me with personal problems which I would never reveal to anyone.
“You try to help if you can – sometimes they want an arm on their shoulder, sometimes they are asking something. And they can depend on that trust all their lives because they’ve been my player.”