Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed he "had to go out as a winner" as he prepares for his final Premier League game this Sunday.
As Ferguson prepares to take charge of his 1500th and final game as a manager against West Bromwich Albion this weekend, he has given further insight into the thought processes behind his decision to call time on his record-breaking career.
It was during a discussion with his wife Cathy some five months ago that Ferguson made his decision to step down as United boss, so long as his side backed up their solid lead at the top of the Premier League table by reclaiming the trophy from neighbours Manchester City.
"When Cathy and I chatted about this at Christmas, I said 'I really need to go out a winner'," said Ferguson, speaking at United's end of season dinner. "At that point we had a five-point lead and I thought we had a great chance.
"After the disappointment of last season we couldn't take a second one. I was hopeful we'd win it and we did. We had a terrific points lead.
"The problem is, when you have a lead and you start to lose a point. When we lost to City in the Monday night game you start to think 'Christ, you can't throw this away'."
Ferguson went on to pour praise on his successor David Moyes in comments broadcasts on the club's MUTV channel.
"What I know of David is he's hard working, there's integrity about him, he's got a work ethic about him and he's a serious football man," he added. "These are qualities he's going to need.
"One thing you have to do here is sacrifice and persevere. It's not always a golden path of riches. There are hard days, there are difficult days, there will be bad losses. Our supporters have suffered many things but they've also enjoyed many things."
Ferguson looked on as Robin van Persie claimed the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award and Michael Carrick won Player's Player of the Year at United's end of season celebrations.