Ferguson ready for fresh challenges
Sir Alex Ferguson is ready to accept the challenge of Manchester City as he starts to plan a 20th Premier League title triumph.
Ferguson was happy to join in the immediate celebrations at championship number 19, getting doused in champagne as the revelry at overtaking Liverpool as England's most successful club began. The Manchester United manager even afforded journalists the rare luxury of a post-match press conference to offer his thoughts on the achievement.
However, it wasn't long before he had moved on to the next challenge. To Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League final at Wembley on 28 May, and beyond that, to another championship fight, when City, flushed from ending a 35-year trophy drought, are bound to be a factor.
"I will not be taking it easy because we have won the title," he pledged on MUTV. "The ambition of the club doesn't alter. It doesn't go away. That is the responsibility as manager of Manchester United.
"You always expect Liverpool to challenge us. You always expect Manchester City to challenge us. The great thing about us is that we accept challenges. It doesn't matter where it comes from. Our job is to get better and we will try to be better next year."
There are a few issues for Ferguson to resolve. Although chief executive David Gill did not name the goalkeeper identified to replace retiring Edwin van der Sar in an interview with Radio Five Live, it is widely thought to be Atletico Madrid's David de Gea.
A couple of additional new faces are reportedly anticipated, including Wesley Sneijder, while Ferguson also confirmed the likely return from loan of Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley and Mame Biram Diouf from Sunderland, Wigan Athletic and Blackburn Rovers respectively.
Scholes could retire
A decision about his future from Paul Scholes is still awaited though, with Gill not entirely convinced the veteran midfielder will extend his stay at Old Trafford. "It wouldn't surprise us if Paul Scholes retired," said Gill.
"On the other hand, we are enjoying the success we are having, so at the end of the season, he will have a conversation with Sir Alex about that. I am sure he will let us know his decision and we will respect it.
"He has been a brilliant player for many years. It is interesting that while Ryan [Giggs] got his 12th title yesterday, that was Paul's tenth. It shows what he has achieved for us and what an absolutely fantastic player he has been."
Losing Scholes would be a blow as, for all his reckless tackling, the 36-year-old is still the most consistent passer at Old Trafford and once Wayne Rooney had levelled Brett Emerton's first-half strike, Scholes was the perfect man to ensure United did not give the ball away, leading to a slow wind-down to the final whistle.
"You couldn't imagine we would have turned this around when I started," said Ferguson of overtaking Liverpool. "At that point I was looking just to get one trophy. Since then, it opened the door for us.
"We won the double the next year with a great team and got carried along in terms of always challenging for the title. That is 19 years we have been competing for the league. Only three times have we been outside the top two. That is an incredible achievement."
During that time, United have reinvented themselves on three occasions and now, without Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, are onto number four.
"Every young player that comes to the club gets ingrained with the fabric of it," said Ferguson. "It is a first medal for Chris Smalling, Darron Gibson and Javier Hernandez. That is a wonderful experience for them. They are the future."