LONDON (AFP) - Alex Ferguson has quashed retirement talk by revealing he has no plans to step down as Manchester United manager in the near future.
Ferguson, who turned 71 on Monday, has been forced to deal with questions about his retirement plans since the time he reversed his decision to leave the club in 2002.
With Pep Guardiola due to end his post-Barcelona sabbatical in a few months, Jose Mourinho tipped to leave Real Madrid and David Moyes' Everton contract close to expiring, three of the main candidates to replace Ferguson could be available at the end of the season, prompting a new round of speculation about the Scot's future.
But Ferguson, who has been in charge at Old Trafford since 1986, marked the new year by making it clear he won't be leaving United for some while.
"I'm hoping to stay on for a bit of time," he said in an interview with the Abu Dhabi Sports channel.
It is widely accepted few will get to know when Ferguson is ready to call it a day, with chief executive David Gill the man tasked with advising the Glazer family about a replacement.
And, though Guardiola, Mourinho and Moyes are bound to be at the top of the list if they are available, Ferguson knows plenty of other candidates are likely to have emerged by the time he finally quits.
"It's very difficult," Ferguson said. "Over the years, names have been bandied about but football is such a precarious industry.
"But you could be talking about one of the potentially exciting young managers in the game, but is he going to be here in two or three years' time?
"The sack race is horrendous. Sometimes a manager can only survive four games if he doesn't win a match.
"Top managers will always been in demand but nobody knows where they are going to be in two or three years' time."