Manchester University Honours Sir Alex Ferguson

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson tonight received an honorary degree from the University of Manchester to mark his 25 years at the club.

Sir Alex, 69, was presented with the honorary doctorate by the university's deputy president and deputy vice-chancellor Professor Rod Coombs.

On receiving the accolade which also marked his contribution to the city, Sir Alex, who took charge at Old Trafford in November 1986, said: ``I think it's always nice to be appreciated and recognised, and getting this recognition is testimony to all the hard work that has gone on at Manchester United in the last 25 years, not just by me, but by everyone at the club.

``The great part for me is still to be out on the field with the players and coaching them. As the game has changed, I have had to change with it. For example, sports science in the last decade has seen a phenomenal improvement and that has become a major development in the game.

``But I just don't think about retirement any more. When you've been on the treadmill for so long, 25 years in my case, and my health is good at the moment, it's just a matter of looking forward to being the manager of Manchester United, rather than worrying about Alex Ferguson.

``I am enjoying it at the moment. We've got a good young team and a lot of youth at the club as well as some tremendous staff, so the future is good and I can keep enjoying it.''

Prof Coombs said: ``These two-and-a-half decades of the Ferguson era at United have coincided with - and been a big part of - the renaissance of this city. That renaissance has been manifest in industry, in commerce, in architecture, in the arts, in our university, and in sport.

``Of course we are blessed with two great football clubs here, but today we are celebrating the achievements of one manager who has made a unique contribution at Manchester United, and through that, a unique contribution to the city of Manchester and its prominence in the world.

``Every citizen of Manchester, every business in Manchester, and everything that comes out of Manchester, has an extra visibility and an instant recognition factor all over the world. The sustained success of Manchester United is such a potent driver of that phenomenon. And the reason it has been sustained for so long is standing here on the platform today. His achievements are truly unique.''