Ferguson rules out thought of retirement

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The Independent Football

Alex Ferguson said yesterday that he had no intention of retiring in the foreseeable future and named Roy Keane as the best player to have represented for United during his reign.

"You're never guaranteed your health once you get to 62 or 63," said Ferguson, who turns 63 next month and today celebrates 18 years in charge at Old Trafford. "But I feel good."

Ferguson's fixed-term contract expires at the end of this season. It then becomes a rolling one-year deal, which either party can terminate at any stage. But he was considering no such parting yesterday, preferring to discuss his 18 years already served.

Ferguson picked Keane as his best player ahead of such greats as Eric Cantona and Bryan Robson. Ferguson said: "It's not just the quality of his game, it is also his influence and great determination. There are a lot of parts to making a great player; he has fulfilled them all."

Tomorrow, United will be without Ruud van Nistelrooy for the Manchester derby, but Ferguson believes that his teamshould still be able to maintain their 30-year Old Trafford supremacy over City. Ferguson said: "We have a fantastic record against them and we want to keep it."

Ferguson's main dilemma will be whether to play Louis Saha or Alan Smith alongside Wayne Rooney in attack. That choice alone is symbolic of what may keep Ferguson in situ for a while longer at least.