Fergie’s successor will have to have the right values, says United CEO
MANCHESTER United chief executive David Gill has underlined the requirement for Sir Alex Ferguson's replacement to be completely in tune with the values so prevalent at Old Trafford.
Ferguson celebrated 25 years in the United hotseat on Sunday.
It is a quite incredible achievement that drew widespread appreciation from across the game.
As Ferguson has shown no inclination to surrender his position, the search for a successor has yet to begin.
However, when it does, Gill has highlighted some non-negotiable requirements the new man must meet.
"It will be difficult to replace him - it's naive to say anything other than that," Gill told MUTV.
"But we are a great club whose values go back in history to our heritage to the '50s and '60s and the last 25 years with Alex.
"To continue with that, the new manager needs to understand those values and the vision for the club and must buy into that."
As he approaches his 70th birthday on New Year's Eve, no-one could accuse Ferguson of concentrating on his immediate priority of withstanding the challenge posed by Manchester City at the expense of United's future.
In Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley, Ferguson has integrated a quartet of young English players to his squad this season that could provide a platform for United over the next decade.
"The important point to make is the new manager, whenever that may be and whomever that may be, will be taking over a great, great club, in a great, great sport and Alex, in particular, will want to make sure he inherits a great squad," said Gill.
"That's our goal - to make sure when the new manager comes in he does have a great squad to work with in terms of age and profile."
The chances of Ferguson's replacement emulating the Scot's success - 12 Premier League titles and two European Cups - is remote, though.
And Gill feels Ferguson's work goes far beyond that.
"Alex's legacy to United is to my mind very clear - delivering an unprecedented period of success in the Manchester United way," he said.
"By that, I mean attractive football using young players - both homegrown and buying players when necessary like Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, but actually developing our own players.
"That record is there for everyone to see and that legacy is very clear also.
"Within that, he's made sure he's cemented United's position as one of the top clubs in world football.
"We're very well respected clearly in this country and around the world. You only have to see our following there on tour in America and Asia, plus in Europe when you speak to any other club.
"United are rightly held in very high esteem down in no small measure to what Alex has achieved in the last 25 years."