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Apr 10, 2009

Sir Alex targets more Euro glory before retirement

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has set his sights on more European glory before finally retiring from the game.

The 67-year-old is hungry to add further Champions League success to that of 1999 and 2008, adamant he feels United have fallen short on their achievements in continental competition. And he has revealed that if the Red Devils can win "a couple more European trophies" he'll walk away.

Speculation is continuous about who should replace Sir Alex, who took over at Old Trafford in 1986, but the man himself is insistent that whoever gets the job needs to be vastly experienced to handle the unique pressures that come with it.

In an interview with CNN, Ferguson said: "If there was one challenge I'd love the club to win more European trophies than they have done and I think I've made this point a few times over the years. I don't think we've won the number we should have won.

"There have been years when we've been unlucky and years we've been disappointed, and there've been years when we've thrown games away, and that sort of gives a kaleidoscope of what football's like.

"If we could win a couple more European trophies I then would definitely quit.''

Health permitting the United boss does not expect there to be a vacancy at Old Trafford for another two or three years, but he does feel his replacement cannot be a rookie.

"I am glad it is not my decision,'' he said. "But whoever it is, it needs to be someone with experience. Manchester United is a massive club. The club I joined in 1986 is nothing like the one it is today.''

Clearly, Jose Mourinho would fit the criteria, given the trophy-laden time he has spent with Porto, Chelsea and now Inter Milan.

"I like Jose Mourinho,'' said Ferguson. "He is a good guy and someone I get on very well with. But people forget how quickly the game changes. The job of a football manager is a pretty fragile one.

"You can be on the very top of the world and then after two defeats you are the worst team ever. Hopefully I will be here for another two or three years. Who knows what will have happened in that time.

"Thinking about Jose Mourinho or Arsene Wenger or whoever is going to be impossible.''

What Ferguson is adamant about is that his health will dictate how long he carries on, not the chase to equal Liverpool's trophy haul.

"I am 67 now,'' he said. "At the moment I am still healthy and enjoying my job. If that was different I would quit immediately. But winning a specific trophy does not come into it.

"I would love this club to win more European trophies. We definitely should have at least a couple more. But just by being in so many semi-finals and quarter-finals, it shows you how hard it is to win.''

Ferguson also spoke about star winger Cristiano Ronaldo, praising the 24-year-old for the maturity he has developed in avoiding the temptations that come with his high profile.

"I think that he's had temptations and I think there have been periods when you've seen the effect of it (on the pitch),'' Ferguson said. "He's lucky in the sense that people here can tell him the truth and be straight with him and he appreciates that, and he has responded to that.

"If it stays with him and changes him as a person then you have a problem. Fortunately Ronaldo has good human qualities. He's a good guy. He knows when he's gone too far and he draws back in after that.''

United return their attention to the Premier League with a trip to Sunderland, and to try to bury the memories of their disappointing 2-2 Champions League draw with Porto.

Scottish midfielder Darren Fletcher said: "The mood is that we are still in every competition and we are still battling to win them. Whether we can do it or not is going to be a huge task.

"It was massive for us to win on Sunday because Liverpool have come back on form and they had scored in the last minute against Fulham. The character we showed against Aston Villa to come from behind to win the match was incredible.

"We are disappointed about the Porto match but we have to pick ourselves up as we have a tough game against Sunderland, who are fighting for their lives against relegation and have everything to play for.''

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