'Staggering' Alex Ferguson will continue to bridge the generation gap

League Managers' chief says 71-year-old is fit enough to keep going as Manchester United manager

More than a third of managers in professional football are 45 or younger, 35 to be exact, the largest number in history. In the case of Sir Alex Ferguson, therefore, 71 is the new 45. And he shows no signs of slowing, which is a huge disappointment to the League Managers Association chief executive, Richard Bevan, who has big ideas for the Manchester United overlord the moment he blows the final whistle at Old Trafford.

Housed in the LMA's new offices at St George's Park, Bevan is busy rolling out a raft of educational programmes and courses aimed at establishing England's headquarters as a world leader in the training of young managers and coaches. Ferguson is a keen supporter of the initiative and can expect to see his involvement grow when he is no longer chewing furiously on the touchline, although that will not be in the immediate future. Ferguson this week quashed speculation that he might retire if United win a record 20th title this season, saying that he intended to carry on " for a bit of time".

Bevan has more than 80 LMA members out of work. The job 'life' expectancy of a coach in the lower divisions is 11 months. Yet Ferguson rolls into his seventies at the helm of an empire he has controlled for more than a quarter of a century.

"Staggering," Bevan said. "I am not aware of any profession that does not see age as a problem. I'm told at Deloitte you have to finish at 60.

"Managing at 71 is extraordinary, with all that it entails. The thing that strikes me most of all about Alex Ferguson is his passion and his ability to work hard. That is a skill that people don't recognise fully. In him it is immense. His adaptability to deal with the different eras is also extraordinary. And remember, he is managing Manchester United, arguably the most high-profile club in the world. That is a credit to the back-room team and directors of the club, and the way that Alex has handled the ownership issues and his relationships with the key personalities at his club.

"He knows everybody. He often refers to Jock Stein as a one-man university when talking about management styles but the way that he has modernised his thinking in the making of big decisions is something that a lot of managers have been able to learn from. It is often said that great leaders have a passion for people and Alex has that."

Bevan drew a distinction between the gladiatorial figure in the big match arena and the philosophical, deeply principled supporter of the LMA. "From an LMA perspective I speak to him quite a lot about the development of coaches and managers around the country.

"He is absolutely key to the work we are doing at St George's Park. He drives it in so many respects, along with the likes of Howard Wilkinson, Roy Hodgson and David Moyes. His credibility, knowledge, leadership are key factors in building the affinity of this organisation. When people know Alex Ferguson is involved with a project you don't tend to have many problems getting others onside."

Oldest managers

Ivor Powell

Born 5 July 1916

University of Bath, age 93

Otto Pfister

Born 24 November 1937

Trinidad & Tobago, age 75

Giovanni Trapattoni

Born 17 March 1939

Republic of Ireland, age 73

Craig Brown

Born 1 July 1940

Aberdeen, age 72

Luis Aragones

Born 28 July 1938

Fenerbahce, age 72

Sir Bobby Robson

Born 18 February 1933

Newcastle United, 71 years and 194 days [oldest manager in English Premier League history]

Sir Alex Ferguson

Born 31 December 1941

Manchester United, age 71

Dario Gradi

Born 8 July 1941

Crewe Alexandra, age 70

Guy Roux

Born 18 October, 1938

Lens, age 69

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower