Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton believes that manager Sir Alex Ferguson is irreplaceable and that there is "no one around who can fill his boots."
Ferguson is now recognised as the greatest ever manager in British football, and Charlton is dreading the day when his beloved Manchester United go in search of a successor.
In a new book '19' published this week, Charlton says: "The record of 19 League titles goes down purely to Alex Ferguson, it would not have been possible without Alex Ferguson, that's for sure.
"He is the epitome of everything that is good about Manchester United and the ethos of this club. He knows the game inside out. The reason everybody performs to their best is that he is in control, not just of his staff and the first team, but the whole of the club, and as a result it operates in unison.
"There is no point suggesting anybody else to be manager of Manchester United, there is no one around who can fill his boots. I hope he can carry on for a long time yet. Alex is in control and he is the main reason for the record of League titles. From the very first game that Alex took over the team, you knew that we had such a talented manager, and it was only a matter of time that he would get it right."
That might come as a shock for even the self styled 'Special One', Jose Mourinho, who has been touted as Ferguson's eventual successor. But there is no malice for Mourinho or indeed anyone other potential contender, but purely the love of United that drives Charlton to suggest that the old football adage that no-one is irreplaceable, does not apply to the current boss.
Charlton himself narrowly missed out on becoming Manchester United's All-Time Players' Player in a vote including nearly 30 legendary players in the book '19'.
The result will shock many as Bryan Robson came out ahead of Charlton, George Best and Eric Cantona, while current world class superstars Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo hardly merited many votes at all as the United greats tended to vote for players who had immense influence off the field as well as on it.
Robson was genuinely surprised, as he said: ''I am especially honoured being chosen by the lads, that is very nice, very nice. When you think of all the great players over the years at United, to finish above George Best, Sir Bobby Charlton and Duncan Edwards is a great honour.''
• '19' by Harry Harris - a reflection of all 19 of United's title years - is published by Empire Publications on September 1. To pre-order for just £12, go to www.empire-uk.com
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