Manchester United were in the relegation zone when Sir Alex Ferguson inherited the team from Ron Atkinson.

Our manager has vowed that he wouldn’t leave us in the same situation and explained his reasons for changing his mind to retire in 2002.

“If we hit a bad spell, it would not be the right time to go,” said Ferguson. “I would not want to put the new manager into a situation where he was taking over a bad team. I want to leave United in a good, healthy position. In 2002, I made the decision on a whim,” he recalled. “The age 60 sounded good, I’d won the European Cup and a lot of people were saying, ‘You’ll never do that again.’ There are a lot of silly things that go through your mind – one line was that Manchester United didn’t want another Matt Busby situation and all that nonsense, but after I made the decision the performance of the team went downhill and it was a nightmare. On New Year’s Eve, we went out for dinner and when we came back I fell asleep on the couch. My wife, Cathy, came in with the three boys behind her, she kicked my foot and said, ‘You are not retiring’!”