Ferguson the man to regain United's crown, insists Gill
MANCHESTER United will continue to compete with their neighbours, the newly crowned champions, Manchester City, and will do so with Alex Ferguson at the helm "for many more years".
That was the confident message from the club's chief executive David Gill yesterday as, with ironic timing, the Premier League recognised United's domination of the competition's 20-year history just as their supremacy is being challenged.
Ferguson has conceded that City, with their petrodollar backing, can outbid his club by paying "stupid money" and "silly salaries". But Gill insisted that United's commercial power would enable them to match City on the pitch.
"We can invest in players, transfers and contracts. We are a very attractive club, we pay good wages, we also have all the assets of being Manchester United that can get players in, whether it be Alex Ferguson with his record, playing with Ryan Giggs, or our history and heritage. Manchester United can and will attract some of the best players in world football, of that there is no doubt."
Despite growing revenues since the Glazer takeover in 2005, United have been relatively small net spenders in the market, preferring to buy developing players for fees approaching £20m rather than elite performers at £30m-plus. This summer is likely to see more recruits in that mould, such as Nicolas Gaitan of Benfica and Borussia Dortmund's Shinji Kagawa, but Gill stressed there was no great need to spend heavily.
"We were only two or three minutes from retaining the title; we came second but we got 89 points," he said. "There are additions we are looking at in certain areas, but we are not going to buy players just for the sake of it. We're already looking forward to next season. I'm confident; I always am with this manager."
Ferguson was named the best manager in the Premier League's history after clinching 12 titles during his Old Trafford reign, while midfielder Ryan Giggs beat off competition from the likes of Eric Cantona and Alan Shearer to win the best player category at a ceremony yesterday. Seven United players were named in the panel's best team of the last two decades.
Time may be catching up with him -- Ferguson turns 71 in December -- but Gill, who picked up the award on his behalf, insists the Scot has no plans to retire just yet.
"He has a rolling contract and he delegates, he still has the enthusiasm, and I am sure he will go on for many more years," Gill said. "He made the decision to retire a few years ago but in the end he didn't and I think it was the correct decision. Football is his life. Long may he continue." (© Independent News Service)