Speculation mounts Ferguson about to retire from United
Associated Press in Manchester
Alex Ferguson arrived at Manchester United’s training ground early today amid mounting speculation in British newspapers he is preparing to stand down as manager after more than 26 trophy-filled years.
United, which is usually quick to issue official denials of stories it disputes, has stayed silent since reports surfaced late on Tuesday about the future of its 71-year-old manager.
The reports were based on rumours which were swirling at the team golf day on Tuesday, but stopped short of declaring that Ferguson was retiring.
British bookmakers reported a rush of bets on Everton manager David Moyes to become Ferguson’s successor. Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has also been linked with the position in the past.
The club is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and would be required by regulations to announce significant news to the market.
Since taking charge at Old Trafford in 1986, Ferguson has established himself as the most successful manager in British football history.
The Scot has led the club to 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, four League Cups, and two Champions League titles, as well as a host of other honours.
But after Ferguson won the league title again two weeks ago he declared he had no retirement thoughts.
“I certainly don’t have any plans at the moment to walk away from what I believe will be something special and worth being around to see,” Ferguson said.
But it emerged at the weekend that Ferguson requires hip surgery, and he has consistently said only health problems would force him to relinquish the job.
United chief executive David Gill said after the latest title triumph this month that Ferguson had “not knocked on my door” and said he wanted to retire.
United is usually wary about giving any details of the eventual succession plan, but Gill did say a new manager would have to adapt to the existing squad and support team rather than making radical changes.
“The quality of the squad, the composition of that squad, means that any new manager coming in will inherit a great squad of players,” Gill said. “And yes he may, whenever that is ... clearly want to bring in one or two of his own people, new players.
“But he won’t want to change the squad wholesale because he won’t be our manager. We’ve got to be consistent with that and that’s what we are planning on.”
Before United’s floatation last year, the club – owned by the American Glazer family – cautioned in a share prospectus that “any successor to our current manager may not be as successful as our current manager”.
“A downturn in the performance of our first team could adversely affect our ability to attract and retain coaches and players,” United said in July.