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May 5, 2013

Ferguson insists on United stay

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has insisted he has no plans to walk away from Old Trafford after predicting another "decade of success" for the Red Devils.

• Blog: United look to block Chelsea's bid for fourth

United host Chelsea on Sunday already assured of reclaiming the Premier League crown they lost to arch-rivals Manchester City last season.

But news that Ferguson will need a hip operation at the end of July, possibly forcing the 71-year-old to miss the start of next season, has taken some of the shine off United's campaign.

And Ferguson's health issues have again raised concerns over his future of controlling one of the world's most famous clubs.

However, in his programme notes ahead of the Chelsea match, Ferguson has eased fears over his rumoured exit, confident he can lead United to another era of dominance.

"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, United striker Robin van Persie will continue wearing the number 20 shirt next season despite being offered the number nine shirt by Ferguson.

Van Persie took the number 20 shirt when he arrived at Old Trafford as former United striker Dimitar Berbatov already wore number nine.

But despite Berbatov's exit to Fulham freeing up his former number, Van Persie has decided to stick with his and save the fans from having to buy a new kit.

"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."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

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