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Nov 17, 2010

Gill: United preparing for Ferguson retirement

Manchester United chief executive David Gill says the club are laying the foundations for a smooth succession whenever Sir Alex Ferguson retires by investing in young players.

• Glazers to pay off £220 million loan
• Quarterly figures reveal reduction in debt

United eschewed making any major signings this summer, despite a professed interest in David Villa, and instead opted to recruit unheralded prospects Javier Hernandez, Chris Smalling and Bebe.

The club have for some time focused their recruitment strategy on young players - though Dimitar Berbatov is a notable exception - and Gill believes that such an approach will leave them well placed whenever Ferguson decides to step down.

"Obviously at some stage Alex will retire, whenever that may be," Gill told Sirius XM. "What we're doing with him, with his coaches and scouts, is getting a great squad with the right age profile so that a new manager coming in - yes, he will probably want to change one or two players, that's always the way, or two or three - but he won't need to make wholesale changes.

"They'll be a sensible transition to the new manager. So that's where we're at. As I say, it's not something we worry about. We worry about other things but we don't worry about that.

"He is on a rolling contract for a year but seriously I've not discussed this issue with him for quite a while. He works and enjoys it, he talks about his health, he looks after himself in terms of the gym and exercise and all of that, he delegates well to the team around him and so long as that desire and enthusiasm is still there it sort of becomes a non-issue."

Ferguson recently said his replacement must boast extensive experience if the chosen man is to carry on his legacy at Old Trafford - a legacy that includes unprecedented success over a 24-year period.

"I tend to agree with that," Gill said of the need for experience. "It's obviously crucial that the main person at any football club or an NFL team I suppose, is the coach. What happens on the pitch is crucial to all of our off-the-field aspirations and we have to understand that. So someone coming in to take over Manchester United will have to have that pedigree, will have to have that logical success and achievement because it's such a big club.

"But I think the other key asset, or key requirement for someone coming in, is to understand the history and heritage of the club, to understand how we work commercially and what we aim to achieve and to get the right balance there and make sure we can continue as seamlessly as possible as we have done under Sir Alex.

"Those are the things but identifying that person is not easy but I'm sure we'll get it right when that times comes and I stress that we don't know when that is."

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