Gill: No more speculation over Ferguson future
As Chelsea try to contain the fall-out from Jose Mourinho's shock departure, Manchester United chief executive David Gill has confirmed Sir Alex Ferguson will remain at Old Trafford for a few years yet.
The turmoil currently engulfing Stamford Bridge is in stark contrast to the continuing stability at United.
While Mourinho only got just over three years to implement Roman Abramovich's desire for a winning team and sexy football, Ferguson is about to celebrate 21 years at the helm of the club many believe to be the biggest on the planet.
Even Gill accepts it is impossible to envisage one individual staying in a job of that size so long again.
But, while armchair pundits continue to speculate when Ferguson might decide to call it a day, the man closer to him at United than anyone else can see no immediate requirement to search for a replacement.
'Alex has a good few years ahead of him, so succession plans are not on the agenda at the moment,' Gill told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme.
'As and when Alex decides to step down we will look at all possibilities but we have a great team managing Manchester United on the pitch at the moment and we see no reason to change that at all.'
In his farewell address to the Chelsea faithful, Mourinho did raise the tantalising prospect of one day landing the United job himself.
By announcing his intention to return to the Premier League at some point in his career, the Red Devils instantly sprang to mind as a club capable of fulfilling his personal ambitions.
But Gill reacted with incredulity to a leftfield query over whether Mourinho could be brought in to work under Ferguson, a suggestion which, admittedly, has never been raised by anyone ever before.
'It is not going to happen,' said Gill.
'We don't need it and we don't think it is appropriate. We don't want that kind of confusion coming into Manchester United.
'Mourinho is clearly a very successful coach, he has done well here in a relatively short period of time.
'But we don't need that kind of interference in our club.'
Gill was somewhat less forthright when quizzed over the possibility of Mourinho becoming United manager one day, pointedly refusing to answer the question.
However, his tactic is one borne out of the experience of knowing so many candidates have been linked with the job at various stages of Ferguson's tenure, including Martin O'Neill, Steve McClaren, Bryan Robson and, currently, Mark Hughes and Roy Keane, but then fade from view as Ferguson continues.
Ferguson himself has always resisted telling the media who he thinks should replace him, although in a public speech recently the Scot did offer the name of his present number two Carlos Queiroz as a plausible candidate.
'We have a very good man in Carlos there, but we would look at everyone available at that time to take over what is undoubtedly one of the best jobs in football,' he said.
'There are lots of other people who have the credentials and at that time Manchester United will undoubtedly still be one of the most attractive jobs in football.'
One thing appears certain, no matter who replaces Ferguson, the next United manager will enjoy the same level of non-interference in football matters as the current incumbent.
Gill confirmed there can be disagreements between the pair over some football decisions.
But ultimately, Ferguson is left to get on with his job with a freedom Abramovich has not afforded to Mourinho if rumours of Chelsea's strategy for buying players is to be believed.
Yet, after succeeding Peter Kenyon as chief executive at United, Gill cannot quite believe the stories of transfers being foisted on Mourinho are true.
'I have never suggested signing players and I don't think any of the big clubs would ever do that.
'It would never work, and it would be a recipe for disaster.
'And knowing Peter Kenyon as I do, I'm sure that didn't happen at Chelsea either.'