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Football: Klaus: I am the man for Old Trafford.

Byline: MARTIN LIPTON in Monaco

BAYER LEVERKUSEN coach Klaus Toppmoeller admitted last night he wants to replace Sir Alex Ferguson as Manchester United boss.

Toppmoeller was hailed as the tactical king of Germany after steering his unfancied Leverkusen side past United in the semi-finals of last season's competition, ending Fergie's dream of an emotional Hampden Park homecoming.

"It would be a dream for me if I could take over from Sir Alex when he goes," said Toppmoeller.

Ferguson was handed the chance to avenge that away-goals defeat when United were drawn to meet with Leverkusen in the first group phase of this season's European Champions League.

United also face Israelis Maccabi Haifa and Greek side Olympiakos, who they beat twice last term.

Toppmoeller told the United board to include him in the frame to replace Ferguson when his contract expires at the end of the 2004-05 season.

He added: "There are two clubs in Europe that stand out. They are Real Madrid and United.

"They are the best clubs in football, and I would love to become manager at Old Trafford."

Toppmoeller accepted that he would be taking over from a managerial legend if he did succeed the Scot.

He added: "In my opinion, Alex Ferguson has been the best coach Europe has seen over the past 20 years.

"As a sportsman and as a technician, he is the best there has been. He has made some great teams and is now putting together another one."

CAPTION(S):

TOP PAIR: Toppmoeller (r) and Fergie
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 30, 2002
Words:254
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