Queiroz keen to succeed Ferguson at Old Trafford

Carlos Queiroz, who has bounced from abject failure at Real Madrid, where he missed out on silverware despite having the best attacking side in the world, to a new three-year contract as assistant manager at Manchester United, believes he is now in pole position to take over when Sir Alex Ferguson retires.

Carlos Queiroz, who has bounced from abject failure at Real Madrid, where he missed out on silverware despite having the best attacking side in the world, to a new three-year contract as assistant manager at Manchester United, believes he is now in pole position to take over when Sir Alex Ferguson retires.

The Old Trafford club yesterday formally announced the return of Queiroz after a year away in charge of Real, where his side finished fourth and ended with five straight defeats. But that has not stopped Sir Alex inviting the 51-year-old back for a second stint at the fallen champions, after the Mozambique-born coach left last summer to join David Beckham at the Bernabeu.

"It's a long-term deal which puts me as favourite to become club manager," Queiroz said.

Twice Ferguson, now 62, has tried to work without an assistant in recent seasons, and twice he has had to concede the title to Arsenal.

Queiroz was credited with reorganising United's defence to claim the championship after catching and overhauling Arsenal in the 2002-03 season.

After United's defensive shortcomings last term, he will be expected to work another miracle in an attempt to drag the championship back from Highbury again. Queiroz, whose new deal runs until 2007, said: "I feel proud and happy with my decision. It is a commitment to Manchester United where football achievements and ambitions fulfil my personal professional goals.

"I would like to express my respect and gratitude to the board and Sir Alex Ferguson for the trust and confidence they have given me with this amazing and renewed opportunity. It is an honour for me to share the dreams and expectations of all Manchester United fans."

Few are invited back to Old Trafford by Fergie after walking away, but he has kept in touch with his former coach during the season.

Ferguson said: "I am delighted to have Carlos back, I was sad to see him leave last year leave but understood his reasons for doing so. Now he has experienced new challenges and he can bring those new experiences with him.

"He is a terrific coach and made a marvellous contribution the year we won the league. The players and staff respected him and will be pleased to see his return."

Both Tottenham and Sporting Lisbon approached Queiroz, but the former Portugal coach has chosen to rekindle his partnership with Ferguson, who has been on holiday in the south of France while the chief executive, David Gill, completed the deal.

Gill said: "It is fantastic to welcome Carlos back to Manchester United. He is a committed, experienced and innovative coach who built up some great relationships with the coaches and players, as well as being an integral part in the 2002-03 Premiership-winning campaign. We all look forward to seeing him back as we continue to prepare the club for the challenges ahead."

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