Charlton backs Ferguson stay
Sir Bobby Charlton has told Sir Alex Ferguson to carry on as Manchester United manager for as long as he wants and is able to do the job.
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Approaching his 71st birthday, and with over 26 years' service as United boss behind him, Ferguson's achievements at Old Trafford will be acknowledged on Friday with the unveiling of a statue of the Scot outside the stand that also bears his name.
Amid other little signs, including the health scare Ferguson suffered in May, it has been suggested it could be part of the end of his reign, and this season will be his last.
But those who know him best do not give that impression.
And Charlton, who travelled back from Turkey with Ferguson after Tuesday night's defeat to Galatasaray, is putting no timescale on the departure, knowing just how difficult he is going to be to replace.
"When we made the decision to go for him we didn't in our wildest dreams think that it would last as long as this," said Charlton.
"But from the beginning he obviously made people aware of what he did and how he did it with regard to controlling players and how to work with [the club] management which is also very, very important.
"I won't see his like again, I'm certain of that.
"We're really lucky, and people are really envious of us. He was born to do this job and he's going to be with us as long as he wants.
"He's just a sensational manager, I keep repeating it, [but] others must look on in envy."
As someone whose entire professional career has been played out under the guidance of one man, midfielder Paul Scholes is aware the time is drawing near when a change has to be made.
Some of the game's most famous names have been linked with the job.
However, Scholes accepts, no matter who it is, they have enormous boots to fill.
"Somebody's going to have to come in one day and manage this team and if they do half as well as he does they'll be successful," said the former England man.
"There's nobody like him I know that - but somebody's got to give it a go.
"He has been brilliant for every single player that's worked for him.
"There is such a hunger and desire about him that really drives his players on - he knows how to keep you motivated throughout a season, it's something that he's managed to do for the last 20 years and I'm sure he'll carry on doing it for the next few years as well."
Ferguson insists he has mellowed down the years but the hairdryer treatment is the stuff of legend.
Yet such extreme behaviour is born of a determination to succeed former Prime Minister Tony Blair believes makes Ferguson the ideal man to have in the trenches.
"He is one of these people that has a strength of character that immediately marks him out as a leader of people," said Blair.
"He's a great competitor but he's also got huge integrity, to himself and to what he believes in.
"That's quite unusual in life to find people like that and when you find them they're very special.
"If you're in a tough situation and everything is coming down on top of you and you feel you're slowly getting surrounded by the people that want to put you in a deep dark pit, Alex is the type of person you'd want standing alongside you because you'd know you were [then able] to give whoever came after you a good fight."
Jose Mourinho is one of those mentioned as a potential alternative.
The pair are believed to have met on Wednesday ahead of Real Madrid's encounter with Manchester City.
And it is clear the affection is immense.
"He's unique, especially in the modern day," said the former Chelsea boss.
"If you go back many years then you will find somebody like him, but, [it's amazing] in the modern day at the highest level, where it is really difficult to survive in our job.
"He's absolutely incredible at what he does and we can't even imagine when he'll stop, he's unbelievable."