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Page last updated at 10:47 GMT, Sunday, 25 May 2008 11:47 UK

Gill cool on Ferguson quit claim

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson
Ferguson has been in charge at Old Trafford since 1986

Manchester United chief executive David Gill has played down manager Sir Alex Ferguson's claim that he will step down before he turns 70 at the end of 2011.

Ferguson, 66, said: "I won't be managing here any more than three years at the very most. Without question, I can assure you of that."

But Gill told BBC Radio 5's Sportsweek: "He has not said that to me.

"His health and his desire will be the criteria when he makes that decision and we will look at it then."

Ferguson has been in charge at Old Trafford since 1986 and won the Champions League for the second time this season, as well as his 10th Premier League title.

The Scot has no immediate plans to leave his post, adding: "I know I would find it hard to give up managing United.

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"I can't do it, not at the moment anyway. The big fear about retirement is what do you do with yourself?

"There are too many cases of people who retire and end up in a box soon afterwards because they have lost the very thing that keeps them alive."

But Ferguson insists he will not change his mind this time, in the same way he did in 2001 when he announced his impending retirement but then signed a new three-year contract.

"My wife Cathy was the one who talked me out of retiring last time but she would not do that now," he explained.

"The older you get, the more you feel guilty about it. I think my wife deserves a bit of my time too."

Gill admits United have to prepare for when Ferguson does leave and added that his assistant Carlos Queiroz is in a strong position to replace him.

Alex and the players would be the first to admit that Carlos is clearly a key factor in all the success we have achieved in the last couple of seasons

Man Utd chief executive David Gill

"We are making sure that our squad is continuously improved as necessary, and that the age of our squad is right, so that when Alex does decide to retire, anyone taking over has a fantastic squad with the right age profile and they should not need to make wholesale changes," Gill stated.

"We also have an assistant manager who would be very much in the frame in Carlos but, like any business, we follow what is happening in football on the playing and management side.

"If you look at what Liverpool achieved in their very successful years of the 1970s and 1980s, that was through internal appointments.

"Alex and the players would be the first to admit that Carlos is clearly a key factor in all the success we have achieved in the last couple of seasons."


see also
Ferguson hails impact of Queiroz
23 May 08 |  Man Utd
Ferguson turns sights to Europe
12 May 08 |  Man Utd
How the title was won
12 May 08 |  Premier League
Ferguson to quit Man Utd in 2002
18 May 01 |  Man Utd
Ferguson: No more U-turns
10 Feb 02 |  Man Utd


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