A lot of factors come in to it. The most important thing is I’m at the right club. It’s a fantastic football club which demands the challenge all the time, every day and every year. We have the challenge of being at the top, I think that helps me. The second thing is you need good energy, natural energy which I’ve been blessed with and been fortunate enough to have. And the third thing is, I can keep going as long as my health keeps going and the same applies to every person. I’m 68 and so far my health has been standing up. And also the opportunity to work with very good footballers, with good desire and purpose about themselves. At Manchester United we don’t just build footballers in terms of just ability, we try to build their character and make them better human beings, in terms of standards and responsibilities. The response I’ve had over the years has been good. People have worked with the younger players, like the older ones, and they have a great response to the demands of the job, and I think that’s important.
And what about transfers?
I think it effects the supporters’ mentality over how a player handles the transfer fee, but not just that, the enormous amounts of money they are paid. I don’t think it rests easy with supporters. But we’re in such a competitive world now and the borders of how much people will pay to get the best players is changing. But we’ve bought players for quite high amounts, like Berbatov, Rio Ferdinand, Veron, Wayne Rooney. We try equate how we can get proper value before we do it. We take quite a good view on it, where we say, ‘Let’s look at our own young players, do they have the ability? How much can we trust them? And do we see a top player in them?’ I think the position we’re in now, I see some players and the values now, £40 million, £30 odd million, then we have to assess our own players first and we’re not bad. We’ve got some good young players who’ve come through the system, who understand the club, who are loyal to the club, and we can build on that.
And the debt?
The debt came about because the club was bought by out by an owner and no business bought these days is bought without debt. So because it’s a football club it seems to attract a different sort of negative reporting, via the media, and some of our fans. When Manchester United football club went plc it was without doubt that it was always going to be bought. Somebody was going to buy it, it was inevitable. It’s unfair for the Glazers that they should come under criticism for it when anybody could have bought it. I have to say they’ve done their job well, they support myself, the manager, they support the players, I’ve never been refused when I’ve been asked for money for a player, so what can I do, other than carry on the way I’m doing it. I’m allowed to carry on. I have no complaints.
What you have to do is maintain the success of the club and make sure that no matter when I quit the club is always in good hands, which brings me back to the point of having young players, so there’s no need for a complete overhaul of the playing squad. Looking at the squad I’ve got at the moment, I’ve probably got 12 players all under 21, which is fantastic, and the future should be pretty secure with them. Going back to my health, if I’ve got that, I can carry on, and obviously there will be a point when I do quit, but when that is, I have absolutely no idea, because I tried it a few years ago and it was an absolute disaster. Oh christ, it was agony. It was absolute agony. My wife made me change my mind and she was dead right. She would have been soon fed up of me in the house! But now, when the time comes, I think the club should be OK.
Interview with CNN.