Ferguson likely to sign again at Old Trafford

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The Independent Football

Peter Kenyon, the Manchester United chief executive, has given strong hints that Sir Alex Ferguson is likely to sign a new Old Trafford contract.

While there have been no formal talks between the pair over an extension to Ferguson's 17-year stint as manager at Old Trafford, it seems only a matter of time before the Scot agrees to sign a new deal.

Ferguson has looked eager for more success and spent his summer reshaping his championship-winning squad after deciding against retirement 18 months ago.

"The rest of football have every right to be worried," Kenyon said. "Sir Alex says he is enjoying his football more than ever now and there is nothing to suggest he will not be here longer than his current contract.

"He knows what is required and so do we. His ability and record speaks for itself. Anybody who knows him will see there is a younger, fitter Sir Alex Ferguson this season than there was last and he is transformed from the season before."

The kind of bold decisions which saw David Beckham and Juan Sebastian Veron moved on were the hallmark of Ferguson's early years at Old Trafford and a reminder that the focus, which the manager believes his side lost when they thought he would be leaving, is now sharper than ever.

The arrival of 18-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo, plus midfield pair Kleberson and Eric Djemba-Djemba has significantly reduced the age profile of Ferguson's side and is seen as a sure sign he is looking beyond the remaining two years of his contract.

Ferguson proved his motivational skills were still sharp by steering United to an unlikely title triumph over Arsenal last season and the 4-0 win over Bolton last Saturday, following some impressive pre-season form, suggests they will be the leading contenders again this term.

In addition, Ferguson is still pursuing his ambition of landing a second European Cup, thereby eclipsing the record of the club's legendary manager Sir Matt Busby.

"It is early days but neither of us will be in a position where there is a retirement date looming and the issue hasn't been dealt with well in advance," added Kenyon. We certainly would not want a repeat of what happened last time."

Meanwhile, it has yet to be confirmed whether Ferguson will give the £6m Brazilian midfielder Kleberson his reserve-team debut against Blackburn at Moss Lane tomorrow.

Ferguson declined the option of putting Kleberson on the bench for last weekend's win over Bolton because of the midfielder's lack of recent match practice and it would appear an obvious move to play him against Blackburn ahead of Saturday's difficult Premiership encounter with Newcastle United.