Following a chat with FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter in Tokyo on Tuesday 16 December, which was also attended by FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke, FIFA's Director of International Affairs, Jerome Champagne and Manchester United Chief Executive David Gill, Sir Alex Ferguson answered FIFA.com's questions about the key topics which were aired.
FIFA.com: Do you think the current economic crisis will affect world football - and, if so, how?
Sir Alex Ferguson: It is affecting every facet of life at the moment and so football is bound to be affected, with the cost of going to games, travelling and so on. The Premier League is healthy at the moment as supporters have bought their season tickets for this season. However, it will be interesting to see next season how clubs cope with the effects on businesses and families. I think that corporate hospitality will be a big area that will feel the pinch. Fortunately we are a club that people want to see.
Do you think the principle of 6+5 is a good way to develop and protect young talents?
I think it should be a concern when local and national players are not given opportunities, so therefore eventually there have to be limitations on foreign players; that way club's youth systems are protected. Progress is progress and the future has to protect the national game.
The FIFA President praised your Champions League winning side for containing six English players. How important do you think they were to your success?
We have been fortunate that the players we have understand the romance and loyalty of the club. Ryan Giggs has been with the club for 21 years, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes for 19 years, and that demonstrates the part loyalty plays in the game. People look at the stats of those three players and will be amazed, but why? These players have supported the club with their loyalty but it's a two-way thing and we are proud of that. Wes Brown, Darren Fletcher and John O'Shea are also instrumental; we've brought young players in and they've stayed for the duration. As a club, we encourage loyalty.
How much will their experiences for Manchester United help them in their international careers?
The level that we play at demands they must have experience and knowledge to handle big game situations. Almost all of our players are internationals: Fletcher played for Scotland at a young age, Giggs at 17, and Scholes and Gary Neville were in at a young age too. The platform we play at means that players feel comfortable in the big arena. We develop how they prepare themselves for the big occasions and have taught them to play the game and not the occasion, so internationals are not a burden.
Do you think that the fans can identify more with a side which has English players?
Yes, there's no doubt about it. And even though we have players that are Welsh, Scottish and Irish, it is still the same culture and fans can identify with that.
The Manchester United manager also gave his backing to South Africa as hosts of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. You can read his thoughts by clicking on the ‘Ferguson: Mandela amazes me' link on the right hand side.