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Tootle's 'slug' goal celebration

The Toe Poke

United memories delight Sir Alex

Sir Alex Ferguson has spoken of his "fairytale" time as manager of Manchester United as his 25th anniversary at the club approaches.

Ferguson will reach the milestone on Sunday, and despite previously refusing to talk about the landmark, he finally broke his silence on the day United greats will gather in his honour.

Lancashire Cricket Ground will host a star-studded gala dinner on Thursday evening, which Sir Alex will attend and the Scot spoke in glowing terms about his time at Old Trafford.

"It is a bit of a fairytale to last so long,'' he said. "It has been a fantastic spell for me. It is something you don't think is going to happen and I appreciate that.

"When I look back I say to myself how fortunate I am to have had these players. The list is incredible, going back to the very start with Bryan Robson, Norman Whiteside, Brian McClair, (Mark) Hughes, (Paul) Ince, (Roy) Keane, (Eric) Cantona. What a collection of players. They were fantastic players.

"It is hard to think I controlled all these players for so long. Now to the present era of players we see today, different personalities and different cultures.

"It is difficult to put everything in a box. I don't think you can do that. It is such a varied time in management. Things change as the years go on. There is a different way of managing today there was even seven or eight years ago. I will continue as long as I feel healthy enough to do it."

Meanwhile, Sir Alex also confirmed he is awaiting the results of a scan on Michael Owen's thigh injury.

He said: "We are assessing it this morning. He is having a scan done but he won't be available for Saturday. Hopefully it is not too long but it is a killer because he has started the season very well. His performances in training have been terrific.

"We wouldn't have scored that goal if Michael had not made his run so it is a bit of a blow.''

Ashley Young, Chris Smalling and Tom Cleverley will all miss Saturday's Premier League encounter with Sunderland through injury and will almost certainly not be involved in England's forthcoming internationals against Spain and Sweden. Nemanja Vidic from his European suspension.


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