United confirm Ferguson wants to stay

Talks underway on new contract for manager
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Manchester United confirmed today that they are in negotiations with Sir Alex Ferguson for him to carry on as manager.

In a statement to the Stock Exchange, the club said that Ferguson, who was due to retire at the end of the season, has asked to carry on.

Both parties are now in talks which could see Ferguson remain in charge at Old Trafford for another two or three years.

The statement read: "As a result of today's press speculation, the board of Manchester Unitid plc confirms that it was recently approached by Sir Alex Ferguson on Sir Alex remaining as manager of the club beyond this season.

"The board has entered into discussions with Sir Alex and his advisers on a new contract."

Ferguson's decision to carry on solves United's problem of trying to replace him this summer and the club had run into trouble trying to find a successor.

Leading targets, England coach Sven–Goran Eriksson, Bayern Munich's Ottmar Hitzfeld and Celtic's Martin O'Neill had already ruled themselves out of the running, while only today Roma confirmed that their coach Fabio Capello would honour his contract which does not expire until the summer of 2003.

United hope that they will be in a better position to replace Ferguson at the end of his new deal.

Roma confirmed to PA that Capello would not be leaving the Olympic Stadium this

summer. "He has a contract with us until the summer of 2003 and we expect him to stay with us until that agreement expires," said Roma vice president Ciro di Martino. "What happens after that I cannot say."

Capello, who guided Roma to their first league title for 18 years last season, is hugely respected within the game and it could be United are prepared to wait before making their move for a man who has been regarded as the prime replacement for Ferguson.

When Ferguson signs his new contract he will once again become the best–paid manager in the Premiership.

Last summer his salary increased from £1.67million to £2m for his final season in charge.

However, this was eclipsed when Arsene Wenger signed his new deal at Arsenal, which is worth a reported £2.5m a year.

Ferguson, who has always felt underpaid by United during much of his reign, will want at least that figure to carry on.

United, though, will consider him worth every penny and chief executive Peter Kenyon has been trying since his first day in the job to persuade him to stay.

Ferguson's decision to change his mind and carry on could also help persuade David Beckham to sign his new contract at United.

Beckham has yet to agree terms, despite nine months of negotiations, and he has said he would like to know who the new manager is going to be before he signs.

Now that it is going to be Ferguson, that should remove one stumbling block from the negotiations.

Dwight Yorke, though, may not be so overjoyed by Ferguson's decision to stay.

After angering Ferguson by turning down a move to Middlesbrough last week and so wrecking Paolo di Canio's move to Old Trafford from West Ham, he had said he would bide his time in the hope that the new manager would give him a chance.

However, now that Ferguson is staying, Yorke's best option may be to leave rather than spend another two or three years sitting on the sidelines.