Fergie ponders ending 26-year United reign

Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United future was last night shrouded in mystery as the club failed to respond to requests to confirm or deny that he was contemplating his future after 26 years at the helm.

Several sources close to Old Trafford have said that the playing squad and some sponsors have been told of a “significant announcement” to come on Sunday.

And, following a series of stories from the manager’s hip operation to the news that Everton’s David Moyes is now the preferred choice to eventually succeed him, it led to significant speculation that Ferguson was considering his retirement.

It has also been mooted, however, that the announcement may just see an alternative manager put in place until the Scot recovers from surgery at the end of August.

Despite Jose Mourinho’s apparent availability in the summer, however, a source close to Chelsea said it was “virtually certain” that the Portuguese would be returning to Stamford Bridge.

The Irish Examiner understands Ferguson’s future had been brought up again at board level before Christmas, although a latest departure date of 2015 was mentioned.

The club have been very careful to put in the proper framework for an eventual succession, however, and it is known they have met a number of potential replacements in the last few months. In October, Ferguson, David Gill and a member of the Glazer family met Pep Guardiola in New York to discuss plans for the future.

Ferguson, however, has always remained a strong supporter of Moyes.

Meanwhile United defender Rio Ferdinand has called for an overhaul of the Professional Footballers’ Association’s “flawed” Player of the Year voting system.

Tottenham forward Gareth Bale scooped both the main award and young player honour last month, before adding the Football Writers’ prize as well.

For the prestigious FWA honour, members could vote virtually until the result was confirmed.

Yet the players have to vote much earlier, which Ferdinand feels leads to an inadequate conclusion.

“The problem with the PFA awards is that the voting system is flawed,” Ferdinand said. “There’s so much technology at hand that you could do it over an iPad and just say ‘bang, bang, bang’ at the end of the season.

“I am not just being biased but if it was voted for today Robin van Persie would win it by a country mile.”


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