Ferguson says Giggs can play for United at 41
Alex Ferguson says Ryan Giggs could play for another two years at Manchester United, taking him beyond his 41st birthday.
Both Giggs and team-mate Paul Scholes find themselves in a permanent state of 'retirement watch', particularly as the latter has already reversed a decision to end his glittering career.
Ferguson does not believe the duo have decided what to do at the end of the season and, in the case of Giggs, he is predicting he will be around for a while longer.
"It's the kind of speculation you expect because we only put older players on one-year contracts," Ferguson said.
"I think that Ryan Giggs will play for another year, or maybe even two years."
With Rio Ferdinand still to decide whether he will remain at United for another season and sidestep lucrative offers from elsewhere and both Scholes and Giggs appearing to become increasingly marginalised in another Premier League title challenge, perhaps it is no surprise the end of an era has been predicted for next summer.
But the United boss is hoping that he can hold onto these elder statesmen.
In Scholes' case, in particular, there appears no emotional attachment to a career that has seen him compared with the very best players of his generation.
And, less than 12 months after reversing his initial retirement decision, another does seem entirely plausible.
Ferguson, though insists no such decisions have been taken by the midfield maestro.
"It is interesting because Scholesy says very little," said Ferguson. "I would be surprised if Paul had spoken to some pal without speaking to me – and he hasn't – so we can dismiss that.
"Ryan could play for another year or two and Rio's form this year has been terrific."
It is not entirely unknown for Ferguson to cloud such issues in a smokescreen, although such is Scholes' no-nonsense attitude, there seems to be little point.
One player certain to be at Old Trafford for the foreseeable future is Northern Ireland central defender Jonny Evans, who has extended his deal at United until 2016.
"It's in keeping with our normal policy that when the younger players get to the second last year of their contract we have to do something about it," Ferguson said.
Beyond the busy Christmas schedule, thoughts are inevitably drifting towards the visit of Real Madrid in the Champions League. Ferguson reveals that he is relishing the tie, particularly the return of Cristiano Ronaldo, who he expects will receive a hero's reception from the United fans.
The United manager was asked if he could imagine Ronaldo ever rejoining the club he left for Spain two years ago.
"I don't see that. I'd love to see that, but it's fanciful thinking really," Ferguson said. "First of all, how much it would take to get him from Real Madrid and secondly, I don't think there's any chance they would want to sell him. But you never know."
Ronaldo says he will not celebrate if he scores against United. "It's thanks to Manchester United that I play for Real Madrid. Without them, I wouldn't be the player I am today.
"I still speak with Alex Ferguson. I miss him a lot, and I miss United. It was like a family and I had six great years there."
Ronaldo's former United team-mate Patrice Evra has also encouraged the Madrid star to return "home" to Manchester.
"I have been in touch with him many times," Evra said. "He still loves Manchester United and misses Manchester United.
"He has done some incredible things for Real Madrid, he broke all the records, but they didn't show him the respect he deserves. When Ronny was here, he got the love from all the players, the manager and the fans.
"He is a winner. But he likes people to like him. He misses Manchester United because it was his house.
"I always say I hope he will come back because this is his home.
"If he wants to win the Golden Ball (Ballon d'Or) he has to come back to Manchester United." (© Daily Telegraph, London)