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Manchester journalist Stuart Mathison
"The club aren't telling us anything"
 real 14k

Celtic manager Martin O'Neill
"Do I feel sorry for Sir Alex? Absolutely not."
 real 14k

Sunday, 20 May, 2001, 13:44 GMT 14:44 UK
Ferguson touts O'Neill as successor
Martin O'Neill celebrates winning the championship with Celtic
O'Neill has been a success in Scotland this season
Sir Alex Ferguson believes Celtic manager Martin O'Neill would be the ideal man to succeed his reign at Old Trafford.

Ferguson, who will sever all links with United at the end of next season, sees the former Leicester City manager and Northern Ireland captain as the perfect candidate for the job.

"Martin's a no-nonsense manager - just what you need at a big club. You don't mess this man around," he told the News of the World.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do now - but one thing's for sure, I will be active
  Sir Alex Ferguson

"Any recognition and praise that Martin gets is deserved. For him to go to Celtic and change it all around in one season is remarkable.

"I have to say I thought he would do that because he is a good organiser and a great believer in team spirit.

"He is a no-nonsense manager who is strong and has a personality and I think those qualities are important at a big club like Celtic."

However, reports have suggested Leeds manager David O'Leary is being secretly targeted by United officials as Ferguson's replacement.

The Irishman has taken the Yorkshire side to the brink of a Champions League final and has won admirers with his innovative managerial style.

As well as tipping O'Neill, Ferguson did not rule out the possibility of managing another Premiership club when he leaves at the end of the 2002 season.

"I'm not sure what I'm going to do now - but one thing's for sure, I will be active," he added.

But he reassured United fans by confirming he would honour his contract until the end of next season.

Steve McClaren in training
McClaren: Had a couple of offers
"The last thing I ever want to do is leave this club. Obviously, I'm disappointed but I'm not going to let this issue disturb my life.

"I've had a great time at United and I don't want any bitter feuds.

"It would be silly for me to leave now. The strong bond I have with my players and our fans will be our great strength in the years ahead."

But he revealed his second in command Steve McClaren, touted as Ferguson's long-term replacement, could be heading elsewhere.

Ferguson said: "Steve's got other offers. I can't make his mind up for him, he's his own man.

"He's an outstanding man but he hasn't spoken to anyone yet. He'll do well."

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18 May 01 |  Man Utd
Ferguson to quit Man Utd in 2002
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