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Ferguson favours Pep for United job

Sir Alex Ferguson is understood to now favour Pep Guardiola as his eventual successor at Manchester United.

• Blog: Striking the right note

On Tuesday, the club's vice-chairman Ed Woodward said that the Old Trafford hierarchy know what "type of manager" will succeed Ferguson, while it was reported in the Spanish press in the summer that Ferguson had met Guardiola in New York.

ESPN has learnt, however, that chief executive David Gill and a member of the Glazer family also met the former Barcelona manager, who left his role at the Camp Nou after four successful years, at that time.

While a United source said that the meeting was "informal", the future is understood to have been discussed.

For his part, Guardiola is known to view United as a particularly attractive proposition. Although he retains interest in Chelsea, AC Milan and Bayern Munich, the Catalan is said to find the sense of history and atmosphere at Old Trafford especially enticing.

In his entire Barcelona career as both a player and manager, Guardiola - who, as a player, was targeted by Ferguson but ultimately signed for Brescia - faced United more than any other English side, and a Catalan source said the club have always fascinated him.

Ferguson and United do not just see Guardiola as one of the few coaches with the required strength of personality to take on such a massive job after the Scot eventually retires, but also an ideal fit given his commitment to both youth and attacking football.

Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho has previously been seen as Ferguson's successor-in-waiting but, although the Red Devils manager retains a good relationship with the Portuguese, other members of the club's hierarchy - particularly Bobby Charlton - are said to be less keen due to a perceived short-term approach.

While the expected date of Ferguson's retirement remains, as ever, undetermined, the manager is widely known to want a significant say in who succeeds him and for the necessary structures to be put in place beforehand for a seamless transition.

When Ferguson was last expected to retire in 2002, only to perform a U-turn, he expressed his dismay that the club had lined up Sven Goran-Eriksson. The United boss criticised the Swede for "not changing much" at his teams.

He is now determined to ensure there is no repeat of that situation and that the right person is in place to prolong his legacy.

On Tuesday, chief executive Woodward said: "We have a view as to what type of manager we want and how and when we'll go about it. But it's in the drawer and long may it stay in the drawer."

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