Sir Alex Ferguson has given a tongue-in-cheek hint that his assistant Carlos Queiroz could one day succeed him as Manchester United manager, two days after winning the UEFA Champions League title. The Portuguese has been credited generally with organising the impressive array of fitness experts around the players which has ensured they have competed in maximum physical condition.
Queiroz's year as Real Madrid coach, sandwiched between his two spells at United, has, according to Ferguson, also enabled him to advise Cristiano Ronaldo and be a persuasive influence to keep him at the club. Benfica are among his admirers while there has even been talk he might be offered the Portugal job if, as expected, Luis Felipe Scolari stands down after UEFA EURO 2008.
Ferguson generally navigates his way round talk of his possible successors and predictably side-stepped a direct question on the matter on Friday as he basked in the glow of United's triumph over Chelsea. But the Scot then went on to give Queiroz the most glowing reference imaginable.
"Carlos is well respected," said Ferguson. "His
preparation for the game on Wednesday, from all aspects, was
"What happens after I go is not my domain. But there is no doubt I think Carlos will be here for a long time. As long as me anyway."
The last sentence was added with a definite twinkle in his eye but there is no doubting Ferguson's faith in Queiroz. Indeed, having recruited the Mozambique-born former South Africa coach twice, the second time after an ill-fated year at Real, Ferguson is relying heavily on Queiroz to help keep Cristiano Ronaldo.
The coach has a persuasive influence on the winger and was pivotal in his decision to remain with the Old Trafford outfit in the aftermath of his row with Wayne Rooney at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™. And, as Real Madrid step up their interest in the 23-year-old winger, Ferguson feels Queiroz can be a useful ally in providing first-hand experience of life at the Bernabeu.
"Carlos has the experience of being at Real Madrid," said Ferguson. "That is helping us now with all the nonsense we have to talk about. Carlos' experience means he can advise Cristiano quite well about that kind of club. That is a plus point for us."
By his own admission, Ferguson remains a 'dinosaur' in some aspects of the game's development. Having spent years at Aberdeen merely attempting to recruit a second physio, only to be met with total resistance from Dons chairman Dick Donald, it is perhaps little wonder that, at 66, the Scot requires assistance in some areas, which Queiroz happily provides.
"Carlos is improving a lot of things," said Ferguson. "I am a bit of a dinosaur in that respect. I have recognised progress needed to be made in different areas that I am expert at.
"We have five physios now. I would have been happy with that, plus a nutritionist, a weight coach, a fitness coach. I even brought an orthoptist to assist on the eye training. That kind of thing is fine.
"But the levels we are going to now are unbelievable. Carlos has increased it in all sorts of ways. The entire medical side is fantastic. I don't think there is anywhere better in the world now. That is all down to Carlos' vision of the future which I would not have had," he added.