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Former Man Utd striker Mark Hughes
"Maybe he's going in a different direction"
 real 14k

The Independent's Alan Nixon
"I've a feeling he won't see his contract out"
 real 14k

Friday, 18 May, 2001, 17:06 GMT 18:06 UK
Ferguson to quit Man Utd in 2002
Sir Alex Ferguson
Sir Alex Ferguson has stunned Man Utd's supporters
Sir Alex Ferguson will quit Manchester United in 2002 - and not take up any sort of job at Old Trafford when he retires as manager.

Ferguson had been negotiating a new role, but the talks collapsed, prompting his bombshell decision to sever all links with the club.

Speculation had been mounting late on Friday that Ferguson was about to make a major announcement.

He confirmed on MUTV: "I will be leaving Manchester United at the end of the season and that is it.

While you never know what you are going to do, the most important thing is to remain active
  Sir Alex Ferguson refuses to rule out another managerial job

"Then I will have to decide what I want to do. There are some offers and options, so I will make a decisions over the next few months."

Ferguson's announcement came on the same day as reports that he would have to sell players before he can buy this summer.

He had wanted to spend big in the summer following the signing of 19m striker Ruud van Nistelrooy.

United have so far refused to comment about the news.

I think it would be a great shame if his relationship with Manchester United was to turn sour
  Andy Mitten,
United We Stand

The club's director of communications Paddy Harverson said: "We have no comment."

Andy Mitten, editor of the United We Stand fanzine was shocked when BBC Sport Online broke the news to him: "A lot people will be angry if the board hasn't treated him properly.

"I think it would be a great shame if his relationship with Manchester United was to turn sour."

"He's a great manager who is greatly popular with United's fans. We wouldn't have a problem at all with him staying on at the club."

Ferguson had been tipped to take some sort of ambassadorial role with United after next season, but he had stressed all along that he only wanted to work about 90 days each year.

It is thought Ferguson is considering a number of offers of work, though it is not known if any are related to football management.

Inter Milan and Barcelona were the latest big clubs thought to be interested in Ferguson's availability.

Man Utd assistant manager Steve McClaren
McClaren's Old Trafford future is also in doubt

And he has not ruled out possibility of taking on another football job when he quits Old Trafford.

Ferguson added: "Managing Manchester United has been the pinnacle of my career.

"There is a fantastic support here and great players, with great character who should be proud of what they have achieved.

"But I am in a healthy position because my own health is good.

"While you never know what you are going to do, the most important thing is to remain active."

It is not clear yet if Ferguson has had a row with the United board about his summer spending plans - or if his decision is connected to the appointment of his successor.

Ferguson joined the Old Trafford club in 1986 and has already guided them to seven Premiership titles, four FA Cup wins, one League Cup, a European Cup Winners' Cup and a Champions League success in 1999.

His son Jason had been representing him in talks with United chief executive Peter Kenyon about what role he would have after the summer of 2002.

But any hopes Ferguson had of landing a dream job with the club have now collapsed and his love-affair with Old Trafford will end in June 2002.

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