Fergie’s Gascoigne regret

ALEX FERGUSON has repeated his intention to retire as Manchester United boss before 2011 — and revealed he will probably not remain at Old Trafford in any capacity.

The 66-year-old said he still has his passion for the game and it burns as strongly as ever despite fulfilling the long-term ambition of winning the European Cup for a second time.

In a Sky Sports interview with David Frost broadcast last night, Ferguson confirmed his retirement plans and dismissed the view he may stay on in an advisory role.

“I’ll carry on for no more than three years, maybe two more. I have to respect my wife because she is a not football fan you know, she’s an Alex Ferguson fan,” said Ferguson.

“At that point I wouldn’t have an interest in how it was run. No, it would be the manager’s domain. People say that if you are about the place, you are in the road, and I don’t want that — the field will be left clear.

“I’ll keep the enthusiasm up long past 70 — whether I’ll still be doing the football, I’m not so sure about that.

“Anyway, I deserve a rest. After you’ve done 21 years, or 23 after a couple more seasons, you need one.

He continued: “Success gives you control. That’s what you’re after as a manager. Because it’s very difficult to control if you’re not successful.

“It means the end of your job. The most difficult job and the most important man at Manchester United is the manager. Without question, the minute that ever changed it would mean a massive free-fall in the club.

“You can never allow the players to run the football club and you can never allow the supporters to run the football club. They’ve all a part to play. Without our supporters, we’d be nothing; without the players, we’d be nothing.

“They are the most important components of a football club; but somebody has to run it. Somebody has to be in charge. The manager is the best man, and has always got to be supported.”

Ferguson reiterated his desire to keep Cristiano Ronaldo and believes that the current crop of United players can go on to dominate in Europe and at home.

He said: “I always feel comfortable with players who have got real ability and a bit of hunger about them. In a way it mirrors my own image of a life with a winning attitude. I associate myself with players like that.

“Of the players who have been successful with us over the years, very few have ever caused me a problem in terms of their desire to do better, so I don’t expect a problem next year.

“They’re young enough and the great thing about winning the European trophy is that they want to do it again. Young players like Anderson and Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani. These young boys — they’ll want to do that again.”

Ferguson also revealed that he has mellowed in his latter years and his famous ‘hairdryer treatment’ has been toned down.

“Jock Stein once told me there was nothing wrong with losing your temper for the right reasons and I think 70 or 80% of the time it has been the right reason,” he added.

“You sometimes regret it, I suppose but you are who you are. It has been premeditated at times, to get the point across or keep all their feet on the ground.

“But I have also said things in the dressing room and maybe reacted badly or too strongly. Not so much now. I’m going back maybe 15 years. I’m just a pussycat now. There are no flying tea cups in the dressing room at half-time anymore.”

Ferguson also admitted one of the biggest regrets of his Manchester United career was missing out on the chance to sign Paul Gascoigne.

The Red Devils chief feels United’s support network could have helped him avoid his descent towards depression and psychiatric illness.

“Alan Shearer is one I wish I’d signed, but for me the most disappointing of all was Paul Gascoigne,” Ferguson said.

“He was the best player of his era, a breath of fresh air because he played with a smile.

“Around 1987, when Newcastle were bobbing above the relegation zone, we played them and my three central midfielders that day were Bryan Robson, Norman Whiteside and Remi Moses. All great footballers and he just tore them apart.

“Robbo and Whiteside were chasing him up and down the pitch and they couldn’t get near him.

“We spoke to him the night before I went on holiday. He says ‘Go and enjoy yourself Mr Ferguson, I’ll be signing for Manchester United’.

“So I went on my holidays but Martin Edwards (then chairman) rang and said ‘I’ve got some bad news — he signed for Tottenham. They bought a house for his mother and father in the North East and that swung it’.

“I think it was a bad mistake, and Paul admits it. We had Bryan Robson, a Geordie, Steve Bruce, a Geordie, Gary Pallister, from Middlesbrough... We had a structure of players who could have helped him and it could have given him some discipline.”


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