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By ESPN Staff

Gill backs Sir Alex to go on and on at United

Sir Alex Ferguson will continue as manager of Manchester United for "a number of years'', according to chief executive David Gill.

The 67-year-old sealed his 11th Premier League title in 23 years at the Old Trafford helm with yesterday's 0-0 draw against Arsenal.

That drew the club level with Liverpool on 18 top-flight titles, leading to speculation Ferguson could retire if they usurp their great rivals next season.

Gill, though, does not see an end to the Ferguson era in sight.

He told Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme: "He's still very motivated to go on and win things with Manchester United.

"He loves the game, he loves everything associated with the game, he's very well supported by his staff and by the players. He's very much still 100% working at Manchester United.

"I don't think you could read (much into) beating Liverpool - everyone makes great play of that.

"Equalling their record, which is a fantastic record, is obviously wonderful for the club but who's to say what will happen next year?

"What we've done this year in terms of the number of games we've had to play and what we've achieved is testament to everyone and he recognises there's a lot more to come from the squad and hopefully, as I say, it will go on for many years.

"What Alex has done quite correctly is understand how to structure the club and he just takes the big decisions, and he delegates very well to a very experienced staff, a highly motivated staff, and he's got a great team around him so it all works.

"As long as Alex continues to do that, which I'm sure he will, he'll want to stay involved with Manchester United and run the team.

"I envisage him being manager certainly for a number of years, but I'm not going to put a timeline on it.''

Liverpool have been United's fiercest challengers this season before finally having to concede defeat yesterday, leaving them still without a title in the Premier League era.

Boss Rafael Benitez pointed to the amount of money United have spent on players as the key difference between the pair - a view swiftly countered by Gill today.

"That's a nonsense,'' he continued. "Analysis was done that shows we're broadly in line with them over the last few years in terms of net spend on players.

"I think there's a lot of factors in it. We've not only got great players and a great manager but we've got a great off-the-field team as well.

"We've got a fantastic stadium, 76,000, which gives us a competitive advantage, our commercial team are doing fantastic deals, which we then put back into the club.

"We've got many advantages through our current structure, which keeps us apart.

"Benitez would say they've had a very good season, they've run us close and I'm sure they'll be even more motivated next season.''

Asked about the secret of United's continued success, Gill, who does not envisage major changes in the squad over the summer, said: "I think it's the very fact that everybody at the club understands you can't take things for granted. If you win one year we want to go on and improve and we've done that.

"Alex has revamped the squad continually over the past 10-15 years and that's what we will aim to do going forward.

"Special mention for Ryan Giggs, an amazing 11th title, I'm sure we'll never see that beaten. He personifies the club and what we're trying to achieve.''

United's trophy-laden season, which has already brought the Carling Cup and Club World Cup to Old Trafford along with the Premier League title, could yet get better still with the Champions League final against Barcelona to come on May 27.

"It has been a wonderful season,'' reflected Gill. "Obviously Japan and the Carling Cup and the league but it's not finished yet. We've got the little matter of a game in Rome in 10 days' time.

"It's wonderful, it's mouthwatering - two of the best footballing teams in Europe will be in it.

"The final is a day after (legendary late manager) Sir Matt Busby's 100th birthday and we're obviously hoping for a repeat of the Cup Winners' Cup final in Rotterdam in 1991 (when they beat Barcelona 2-1).''


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