Every month Sir Alex sits down with Inside United (on sale now) to discuss the latest United and football issues. Here's part two of what the boss had to say this month...
Edwin van der Sar, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville are all coming to the end of their careers. How do you even begin to think about replacing players like that?
You can’t replace players like that like-for-like. Instead, you look for people who perform in similar positions and who have comparable qualities. But you’re never going to find replicas – not for those sorts of players. When these men retire we need to look at what’s left and what we need to bring in to maintain the right balance. I think we’ve been good in that respect over the years, and I’m confident we’ll get it right again. These guys continue to defy age simply because they have the desire to do well and their preparation is so good. Two years ago I was reading that Ryan and Scholesy were playing what would be their last seasons. Then I read the same things last year. Now I think they can still contribute for at least another campaign.
Over the last two years you must have become frustrated with answering questions about Dimitar Berbatov...
When you bring a player to Manchester United, not everybody takes to the situation straight away. Not all signings become hits overnight. Valencia did, of course, but he’s almost an exception. Others take time, and Dimitar was a bit like that. It’s just a fact. Nobody’s ever doubted the ability of the lad, but what we’re seeing now is a striker who’s playing with belief and confidence. All strikers are massively reliant on those two factors – belief and confidence. And at the moment Berbatov has both.
After the Community Shield you seemed confident this would be Berbatov’s season. Did you have a crystal ball?
No, no, nothing like that! I just had a word with him at the start of the campaign. I