Sir Alex Ferguson has told L'Equipe Magazine that he does not expect Ryan Giggs or Paul Scholes to succeed him at Manchester United.
Ferguson, 71, is showing no signs of ending his 26-year tenure at Old Trafford in the immediate future, but that has not stopped speculation mounting over his likely successor, with Jose Mourinho, expected to leave Real Madrid at the end of the season, often linked.
The Red Devils boss believes that someone with that kind of profile of success would be a better fit than a rookie like Giggs - who has just extended his contract - or Scholes.
"I don't want to put them under that kind of pressure," he said, perhaps mindful of the failed experiment that saw former United player Wilf McGuinness attempt to follow Sir Matt Busby in 1969. "I think an experienced coach is needed to succeed me."
Ferguson believes Giggs and Scholes should learn the ropes in less high-profile coaching roles at United before being considered.
"They have to start with the youth team, the reserves," he said. "We'll see where they are in ten years. Both of them are intelligent, determined and hard-working. They'll be with us. I see them joining the staff like Sepp Maier or Gerd Muller at Bayern Munich."
Ferguson also repeated the suggestion he made in December that Robin van Persie could follow in the footsteps of Eric Cantona.
After joining United from Leeds United in summer 1992, Cantona was the inspiration behind the club's first English title since 1967. Ferguson has brought a further 11 Premier League titles to the club since, and harbours ambitions of adding to his prodigious haul of silverware with Van Persie - who, like Cantona, is on course to win the title in his maiden season under Ferguson - providing the driving force on the pitch.
"Robin is in his first season here and I hope he'll have the same impact as Eric Cantona," he said. "Eric, when he walked through the door, became instantly stronger, prouder, more brilliant. He became even more majestic than before, his head still higher. It became clear to the other players: pass him the ball!
"It took them time to figure out just what kind of a player Van Persie is. That's now been sorted out, and he gets service. Quick and good. Like Eric in his time. If we win trophies this season, you could say Robin will have taken Man United to a higher level, just like Eric did."
Had United pursued their interest in Van Persie after spotting him as a teenager at Feyenoord - "We made a mistake," Ferguson admitted - they may have even enjoyed greater success in recent years. With 19 goals in 27 Premier League games this season since his summer move from Arsenal, Van Persie has hit the ground running, but Ferguson had few doubts the Dutchman would fit into his side.
"I'm only interested in players who really want to play for United and who are bad losers. Van Persie fits the bill. He settled in very quickly," he said. "With me, half-time in the dressing-room can be colourful. He understood quickly. I only have one idea in my head: winning. Often, I talk about the end of the game to come, and not only 'Fergie time'. I tell them: 'Don't panic. Right up to the last minute, you can turn the match around'."