I want to play Jones and Evans at centre-back – they could be the future.”
Sir Alex Ferguson has given his last ever press conference as Manchester United manager ahead of his 1,500th game in charge at West Brom this Sunday.
The 71-year-old will close the book on a career at Old Trafford that nearly spans three decades and will leave a gaping chasm that David Moyes will step into.
And looking towards West Brom on Sunday, Ferguson wants to leave one last stamp on United by playing a youthful team that looks towards the future.
“1500 games – it’s incredible,” he said.
“West Brom have done fantastically, every team wants to win their last home game and obviously I want to win this one more than last week’s even.
“I don’t have any injury problems. I’ll make a few changes – maybe a few younger players will play.
“Anders (Lindegaard) will be in goal. I don’t have Rafael so I need to make a decision about right-back. I want to play Jones and Evans at centre-back – they could be the future. Rio (Ferdinand) and (Nemanja) Vidic will have to have a place on the bench! I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be great.”
Classic Ferguson. Always looking to the future. It is a tradition that has embodied his time as manager of United and it is a tradition he will continue to the last.
Jones and Evans as a centre back pairing may certainly be the future of Manchester United but you have to feel for Smalling. Ferguson’s public admittance that Jones and Evans may be the future can be considered a little harsh given how impressive Smalling has been over the past two years but as they say, competition is healthy.
“It’s been an amazing week. I have been overwhelmed. Sunday was unbelievable and, as for the parade on Monday, I thought ’99 could not be beaten. But this time, seeing all the people on the scaffolding was incredible. I think it was better than ’99.”
And looking back on the past week, Sir Alex conceded that he couldn’t of expected any more of a special send-off from the team and the fans.
“It’s been an amazing last week. I have been overwhelmed. Sunday was unbelievable and, as for the parade on Monday, I thought ’99 could not be beaten. But, this time, seeing all the people on the scaffolding was incredible. I think it was better than ’99.
“The memories are all there in 26 years at United. The whole thing. The day I came here was a privilege. The day I leave, I feel honoured.”
It is hard to think of a United without Ferguson and a Ferguson without United, but the 71-year-old has 11 grandchildren that all look up to him and if there is anybody who deserves a quiet retirement, it is the Scot who dedicated a lifetime to United.
But looking at his retirement, Ferguson admitted he hasn’t given much thought to what life after United will be like.
Ferguson continued: “I haven’t thought about what life will be like. I’m driven to take on other challenges right away. I’ve got the LMA meeting on Monday and then I’m going to Newmarket for two days on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“I’ll go on holiday on 4 June and the Derby’s before that on 1 June. I’ll have my holidays for a month and then the operation and then the season will start. I’ll be alright.”
If the last seven days have been emotional, I’m not sure what Sunday is going to be like when Sir Alex finally closes the book on his career at United. Tissues at the ready.