Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

United poised to clarify Fergie position

Sir Alex Ferguson has spent 26 years at Manchester United

Manchester United are expected to offer some kind of clarification on the future of manager Sir Alex Ferguson on Wednesday.

Although United did not respond to the intense speculation that took hold on Tuesday night, for a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, it is impossible to imagine reports that such a senior figure is considering his position can go for long without some kind of response.

Indeed, the longer the club leave it, the more credence it gives to speculation the 71-year-old is ready to stand down and end his amazing 26 years at the helm. At the very least it heightens the uncertainty that has come from a succession of stories that caused Ferguson's status to be questioned in a manner never previously witnessed.

Only last weekend, in his programme notes for Sunday's Premier League defeat by Chelsea, Ferguson insisted he was intent on carrying on indefinitely.

Basking in the triumph of his 13th Premier League title, he said: "This team of champions is not going away - we are here for the long ride. 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."

However, chatter over his future dates back 12 months to the nosebleeds he suffered at a dinner in his native Scotland, which caused him to be taken to hospital. Although Ferguson himself insisted there was no problem, having been told he had taken too many short flights by the United team doctor, Wigan chairman Dave Whelan pointedly claimed this season would be the Scot's last.

Ferguson subsequently failed to travel to pre-season matches in Sweden and Germany and also sat out a mid-winter training camp in Qatar. Then, last week, United privately confirmed Ferguson had been booked in for hip surgery in August, after the club's pre-season tour, which involves trips to Thailand, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong.

It seemed strange timing given the former Aberdeen manager could have had whatever procedure he requires immediately. Repeatedly over the last few years, Ferguson has said his health would be the key to his own longevity.

On Monday night, there was a massive gamble on David Moyes to join United in the summer, with further speculation that he would leave Everton to become Ferguson's assistant.

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