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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 3, 2006

Sir Alex banishes any talk of retirement from game

Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates 20 years as Manchester United manager on Monday declaring he will be the one who decides when he should eventually call it a day.

After abandoning initial plans to step down in 2002, Ferguson shows no sign of tiring from the battle of running one of the most famous clubs on the planet.

Even with eight Premiership titles, five FA Cups and a Champions League triumph among his record trophy haul, Ferguson remains hungry for more.

Current Red Devils skipper Gary Neville has suggested the Scot may continue for another 10 years yet. But, while Ferguson refuses to put a timescale on his job prospects, he bridles at those, particularly in the media, who argue he should step down while he is still near the top of his profession.

'It is scandalous some people think I should retire,' he argued. 'It is none of their business.

'Some people in this country don't want to work, so I don't think you should decry anyone who wants to. It disgusts me that people think that way. It should not be allowed.

'Legislation on retirement is changing in this country, which is right. There are no retirement age laws in the USA.'

Ferguson's extensive knowledge of Government policy on lifting restrictions on over 65s is understandable given his political background and the fact he will reach pension age on New Year's Eve.

But his theorising does not just end with his own situation.

'You have to look at each individual separately,' he said. 'If they are fit enough to continue what they do, they should be allowed to.

'For instance, referees in this country have to retire at 48 when some of them are as fit as fiddles.'

Even as he reaches such a magnificent milestone, Ferguson showed a distinct unwillingness to trawl back over the past, claiming he could not remember a thing about his pre-match team talk prior to his first game at Oxford.

Neither was he prepared to enlighten anyone about where his ferocious inner drive comes from or the extent to which he has changed over the previous two decades.

And, most definitely, he has never even considered what might have been had his side not won that famous FA Cup tie at Nottingham Forest in January 1990 when many claimed defeat would cost him his job.

However, Ferguson was able to identify the currency with which his work will be judged - trophies - and to that end, he has no equal.

'You are going to be judged by trophies, there is no doubt about that,' he said.

'If you don't win, you are not going to here for 20 years. I am proud of what we have achieved here. It has been an incredible spell and hopefully we will win more things at this club.

'But I also feel the way we have done it has been good.

'It has been the right way, the Manchester United way. We have not changed in that respect.

'Sometimes we get carried away with our attacking instincts but you may as well die in a glorious way than not.'

Ferguson insists his short-term targets, which basically extend to nothing more than winning every game, are the ones which deliver long-term aims.

'It is not like athletics, where you peak for certain meetings,' he said.

'You can't do that in football. It is too competitive and emotional. You could lose a couple of games at the start of the season and then have no job.'

But there is an inescapable sense that when he does eventually decide to step away, his satisfaction will not just come through success but also the way he re-established United as the star attraction within the English game.

Chelsea may currently have more money, Arsenal may currently play in a more flamboyant manner and Liverpool may currently have more league titles and European Cups.

But it is the Red Devils who boast the best mixture of all three and, in Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, have two youngsters clearly capable of maintaining the club's rich heritage.

'Supporters who have followed this club for 50 years are very lucky people because we always seem to produce someone who can light up the stage,' said Ferguson.

'We have had players like George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton, who put themselves on the canvass of artistry long before I came.

'Manchester United must have had more top players than any other club in the country and, in that respect, I have been very lucky to work with some of them.'