Jose Mourinho

Bryan Robson has backed Jose Mourinho to succeed in the "near impossible" task of replacing Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, when he eventually retires.

Ferguson celebrated his 25th year in charge at Old Trafford earlier this season but remains adamant he has "another two or three years" to go before he contemplates retirement.

The 70-year-old Manchester United manager has already abandoned one retirement plan a decade ago and subsequently added five more Premier League titles and a Champions League triumph to his trophy collection in that time.

The priority for Ferguson is to retire on a "winning note" rather than set a specific date and Robson believes the club are unlikely to have drawn up a shortlist for the identity of their next manager. The Scot expects to retain a role at Old Trafford when he finally steps aside and Robson cautioned whoever assumes the role will face a tough challenge to maintain Ferguson's remarkable record.

"As far as I am concerned, and from what I know about Manchester United, they are not considering that at the moment," Ferguson is quoted on ESPN Soccernet.

"How do you replace Sir Alex Ferguson? It is near enough impossible. But they are going to have to do that and Mourinho is definitely one who would be up at the top of the list. His record speaks for itself."

Aside from Mourinho, Everton manager David Moyes and Sunderland's Martin O'Neill have also been linked with the role. Ferguson has praised Moyes' work at Goodison Park and said Manchester United will need an experienced manager to replace him when he retires.

"They will need someone with experience," Ferguson told the Guardian earlier this month. "We've never discussed it. It's a dangerous game. At this moment, there are maybe half a dozen managers doing well in the Premier League. Only half a dozen because all the rest of them are fighting for their lives. Some are doing great jobs with the resources they have and David Moyes has been unbelievable. I put him in the top six because what he's done at Everton has been quite miraculous."