After more than two decades of distinguished service at United, Jim Ryan spoke exclusively to ManUtd.com about entering retirement.
The 67-year-old has vacated his final post as director of youth football but is still eager to track the progress of the young footballers he has left behind.
Are you looking forward to retirement?
Yes, but I think there’s mixed feelings about it. Generally speaking, a football life is a good life so I’m giving up a lot of enjoyable things.
Is it a wrench to be leaving?
I guess so but everybody has to retire at some time.
So you’ll miss the job?
I’ve always really enjoyed watching boys play from 14 to 21. I’ve always had real enjoyment watching them trying to use their skills and I’ll still be watching them as much as possible.
Initially, you were working with the Reserves but your role changed a couple of times here...
I came back and coached the Reserves but my title became the director of youth football so I mostly concentrated on the boys who became full time at the club from the ages of 16 to 20.
Is the most fulfilling part of the job seeing young players develop?
I think so. It’s all about seeing the boys progress, I guess. In the areas I’ve worked in, you see schoolboys coming in and leaving almost as men and that period, between 16 and 20, is a massively important period in terms of football development.
Are United one of the best clubs for promoting youth?
Well, we’re very restricted in the amount of boys we can take, only those from within one hour’s distance of the Academy at the moment. I think, generally speaking, we probably do develop boys better than most other clubs.
Do we look to ensure we have good characters as well as good footballers?
I think so. That probably comes from the manager, Sir Alex, as he insists on good behaviour from the players. If I can say something on the subject, I’m never very happy with