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WAGS TO RICHES; SIR ALEX WRAPS UP HIS TENTH TITLE AND HE'S PLANNING No. 11 ALREADY Fergie hails champions as his best-ever..and he's now got pounds 50m to spend.


IT was typical Sir Alex Ferguson - and an example of why the Manchester United manager remains the most successful and revered football boss in the world.

United had been crowned champions for less than an hour and Fergie's hair was still matted from the obligatory spraying of celebratory champagne, but his mind was already on next season.

Fergie, his Premier League winner's medal draped around his neck, said: "We can expect Arsenal to be very strong next season.

"And we can expect Liverpool to buy a lot of players. I don't know what Chelsea will do, because they've got such a strong squad at the moment. But they could buy a lot more players. Everton are progressing all the time under David Moyes and I expect Tottenham to have a much bigger say.

"So it's going to be much tougher next season, believe me."

Despite his claim that it will be even harder to hold on to their domestic crown next season, Fergie insists his current crop of young players have the potential to be United's best ever.

Led by Cristiano Ronaldo, and supported by the equally special talents of Wayne Rooney, Anderson and Nani, plus a defence envied all over Europe, Fergie's optimism is understandable.

And Fergie will be given a pounds 50million transfer bonanza to strengthen the squad, particularly in attack. Ajax's prolific striker Jan-Klass Huntelaar is on the hit-list.

So is Tottenham's Dimitar Berbatov, while Bayern Munich's Philipp Lahm, who can play in either full-back slot, has also been looked at.

The current United side is the fourth of Fergie's remarkable Old Trafford dynasty, which shows no signs of being concluded while he is still amassing trophies.

The 1990 FA Cup-winning team, which landed Fergie his first trophy at Old Trafford, laid the foundations for future dominance by United teams by winning the Cup-Winners' Cup a year later. He said: "When I came to the club I had to clear the decks. We won the FA Cup, then the Cup-Winners' Cup with a hard-working team which had good attitude and spirit."

Then came the team many feel was Fergie's finest, the 1994 Doublewinning side, full of warriors including Steve Bruce, Gary Pallister, Bryan Robson, Paul Ince and Eric Cantona.

Fergie added: "The 1994 team was our strongest one, mentally and physically. Experience-wise it was a fantastic team, full of players who would stand up and be counted." The 1999 Treble-winning side, which contained the Class of '92 - Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers - raised the bar with their unprecedented trophy haul.

He said: "When you win the Treble, then quite rightly you've got to be elevated above previous teams. You're judged on what you win, and so that side stands ahead of the rest."

Although United won the title in 2003, they did so with much of the residue from 1999, so Fergie's fourth great team is the current Ronaldo-inspired side that has won back-to-back titles.

And Fergie is as excited as anyone about what they can achieve, which is why, even at 66 and fitted with a pacemaker to address an irregular heartbeat, he has no intention of stepping down.

He said: "This is a a really exciting team and I really enjoy watching them, I must admit.

"The great thing about these players is that they don't play with fear. That's a credit to them.

"Ronaldo, Rooney, Carlos Tevez, Anderson. The boy Anderson could play in front of one million people and he wouldn't be bothered. He's got that Brazilian mentality. With players like that, you know your fate's in good hands.

"I've had some great teams in my time at United, but this is without doubt my strongest squad.

"I took 26 players with me to Wigan and every one of them deserved to be there. Out of those 26 there's only a couple who won't be here in two or three years.

"The rest of the players are young enough to play for this club for years to come. They'll have matured by that time, so the signs are good. But we're not going to get carried away."

United's title party at Old Trafford had barely begun on Sunday when Fergie's mind switched to the Champions League.

In eight days' time United face Chelsea in Moscow in the first all-English European Cup Final, but seven United players will not even make the bench.

He admitted: "It's terrible having to tell players they're not in the squad. The hardest part is not picking the team but telling players they haven't even made the bench.

"We've got 25 players available forMoscow. With the starting 11 and seven subs, that means seven of them can't even get stripped and sit on the bench.

"But somebody has to make the decision.

"I'm not looking forward to it but I know I've got to do it."




The FA Cup and Cup-Winners' Cup winning team:

Sealey, Irwin, Bruce, Pallister, Blackmore; Phelan, Robson, Ince, Sharpe, McClair, Hughes


Double-winners, considered by many to be Fergie's finest team:

Schemichel, Parker, Bruce, Pallister, Irwin, Kanchelskis, Keane, Ince, Giggs, Cantona, Hughes/McClair


The unique Treble-winning team:

Schemichel, G Neville, Stam, Johnsen, Irwin, Beckham, Butt/Scholes, Keane, Giggs, Cole/Solskajer, Yorke/Sheringham


Back-to-back champions:

Van der Sar, Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Ronaldo, Scholes, Carrick, Park/Giggs; Rooney, Tevez

This is a really exciting team and I really enjoy watching them.. the wonderful thing about these players is that they don't play with fear. And that's a great credit to them - SIR ALEX FERGUSON


PARTY TIME Mikael Silvestre's wife Severine, Michael Carrick's wife Lisa, Wes Brown's wife Leanne and Wayne Rooney's fiancee Coleen arriving at the Old Trafford bash. Rooney himself arrived with the Premier League trophy; FASHION STATEMENT Carlos Tevez; MISSION ACCOMPLISHED Sir Alex Ferguson shows off the Premier League trophy as he arrives back at Old Trafford on Sunday night
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 13, 2008
Previous Article:NEV'S UP FOUR IT.

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