Ferguson’s United future plunged into fresh doubt

MANCHESTER United manager Sir Alex Ferguson could be about to walk away from Old Trafford after 27 years at the helm after the club’s players were reportedly told to brace themselves for an announcement.

At a players versus staff Champions 20 golf tournament, held yesterday, speculation was rife at Dunham Forest Golf Club that Ferguson, who requires a hip operation in the summer, is set to announce his retirement this weekend.

The 71-year-old guided United to a record 20th league title this season, 13 of which have been won during his glittering tenure.

Speculation about when English football’s longest serving manager might retire is nothing new, but Ferguson had said in the official match programme ahead of Sunday’s game with Chelsea: “Whether I will be here to oversee another decade of success remains to be seen, but I certainly don’t have any plans at the moment to walk away from what I believe will be something special and worth being around to see.”

United, owned by the American-based Glazer family, must adhere to the rules of the New York Stock Exchange regarding the release of significant information appertaining to the running of the club, following last summer’s flotation.

Last night no such statement had been issued by United, however they will be obliged to act quickly and clarify their position when the US markets open at 2.30pm today.

Ferguson had previously announced his retirement in 2002, but after United finished third in the Premier League and trophyless he performed a U-turn.

He successfully guided United to the Premier League title the following season and said his pre-mature announcement had been an “absolute disaster” – a mistake he is unlikely to repeat.

Everton manager David Moyes was odds-on favourite with bookmakers last night to become the next Manchester United manager, while Jose Mourinho and Borussia Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp could also be in the running should the need to appoint a successor arise.

Earlier this year Ferguson refuted suggestions he would be an impossible act to follow due to his unrivalled success.

“With the structure we have here it can’t be an impossible job,” he said. “What more could you want?”