The Manchester United chief executive Peter Kenyon said he has "one man in mind" to replace Sir Alex Ferguson when he retires as manager at the end of the season. The Old Trafford board will discuss the matter in greater detail next year, and though Kenyon denied that a shortlist has been drawn up, he said he already knows which coach would get his vote.
"There is probably one name in my head," he said, "but I am not going to share that. There has been much talk about a shortlist. That has come out because there isn't going to be a long list. But there is not a list in the safe at Old Trafford anywhere.
"The whole process won't really start until after Christmas. Everyone at Old Trafford is prepared and looking at getting results this season. We didn't want to take our eye off that, so it won't really start in earnest until the New Year."
Kenyon added that he is confident that David Beckham will remain at the club. The England captain has 18 months to run on his current deal, and talks are ongoing.
"We've got other meetings with his people scheduled before Christmas," Kenyon said. "As you know we would love to retain David. Everybody at Manchester United and our fans want to keep him. That's not the issue – it's finding the right agreement, and I hope we are getting closer. There's no absolute timescale on this. He's got until 2002 under his current contract. Obviously there is a financial element, but he's also looking at his broader career.
"There has been speculation that he's waiting until who the new manager is, but that has never been an issue. I am confident he will stay. It would be good for him, good for Manchester United and good for England."
Kenyon also rejected claims that United made an illegal approach for the PSV Eindhoven defender Kevin Hofland. "If you look at our relationship with PSV there is no need for illegal tapping because we have a direct route into the club," he said. "There has been no approach. We are aware of Hofland. He's got an increasing reputation, but we know his contractual position. If there was any interest we would go direct to the chairman."
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