Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Ferguson intent on staying put

Sir Alex Ferguson has quashed suggestions his retirement is imminent

Sir Alex Ferguson insists he is going nowhere - on the day stories have emerged about his physical condition.

Manchester United have confirmed their manager is booked in for hip surgery when he returns from the club's pre-season tour at the end of July. Although United have not revealed the exact nature of the problem, the timings seem odd as, presumably, Ferguson could have the operation now, when it would not impact on the season.

That has led to suggestions it might be a cover story for Ferguson's retirement. However, in his programme notes ahead of the encounter with Chelsea, Ferguson underlined his desire to carry on. "This team of champions is not going away - we are here for the long ride," Ferguson told United Review.

"We will get better and if we apply ourselves in our normal fashion I see our 20th league title as nothing but the start of another decade of success. Whether I will be here to oversee another decade of success remains to be seen, but 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.

"It's always difficult in football to be absolutely sure of the future because the game has a habit of tripping you up. But I don't live in a fantasy world and believe we have every reason to feel confident about the future of Manchester United."

Meanwhile, Robin van Persie intends to snub Manchester United's number nine shirt and stick with 20 - to save fans having to shell out on another kit.

When Van Persie arrived from Arsenal, the number nine shirt was still worn by Dimitar Berbatov, who did not leave for Fulham until the end of August. Instead, the Dutchman inherited the 20 shirt worn by Brazilian defender Fabio prior to his loan move to QPR.

Ferguson has offered Van Persie the chance to switch numbers next season. However, the favourite to claim the Premier League Golden Boot prize for the second straight campaign intends to stick with what he has.

"I think I'll keep it," Van Persie told United Review. "I have the option to take number nine but I don't think I will do that. I'll stick with what is right and what feels good. Also, I don't want to be harsh on the fans who have got number 20 on their kit. I don't want them to have to buy a new shirt.

"It's been a good number for me and now I can at least celebrate the 20th trophy for another year. I'll stick with it."

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