Sir Alex Ferguson has told Manchester United that he believes Ryan Giggs can be his successor as manager of the club when the 70-year-old finally walks away from Old Trafford.
The question of Ferguson's succession is a key issue at the club despite the Scot being prepared to do another two seasons after this one, provided that his health remains good. Appointing Giggs would be a huge step for the club, given the size of the job, but Ferguson's endorsement will have a major effect on his chances.
It is understood by i that Ferguson has spoken about Giggs as a potential successor relatively recently. When asked publicly about who may be the next United manager, Ferguson usually deflects the question. However, he is understood to be saying privately that he believes Giggs could do the job. Giggs will be 39 in November, and signed a new one-year contract for next season last week.
On the few occasions that the club have discussed the issue of Ferguson's successor publicly, they have always stressed that it is a question of taking the best option at the time Ferguson chooses to go.
The notion of Giggs (right) replacing Ferguson has been discussed among the senior players at Old Trafford, as made clear by an interview Paul Scholes gave two weeks ago in which he said he could envisage his team-mate being given the job. "Whether they are British or foreign, you just want the best man for the job," Scholes said. "I could see Ryan Giggs becoming manager."
Giggs said in an interview earlier this week that he has still not set a date for retirement. On the question of a career in management, he was speaking in the context of the death of his former Wales team-mate Gary Speed when he said: "Everyone who has played and managed would say that playing is much, much easier."
There is still no sign yet of Ferguson giving up on his plan of two more seasons after this one. In an interview with the Fifa website yesterday he said once again that as long as he was in "good health" he would carry on.
"The time will come, obviously, but right now it's not something I'm thinking about," Ferguson said.Reuse content