Sir Alex Ferguson Stand
Manchester United Alex Ferguson waves in front of the stand renamed to mark his 25th year as manager before their English Premier League soccer match against Sunderland at Old Trafford in Manchester, northern England, November 5, 2011. REUTERS

Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United's longest serving manager, is not ready to leave his post and will welcome the challenge to address his failing midfield.

For all the rightfully heartfelt acclaim he has received over the last few days, perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Sir Alex Ferguson's 25 years in charge of Manchester United, is that the Scot's relentlessly unquenchable appetite for football management shows little signs of abating.

Prior to Saturday afternoon's unconvincing victory over Sunderland, when his beloved club surprised their manager by announcing its largest stand would forever bear his name, Ferguson gave a fleeting insight into what makes him the most unique manager British football has ever seen.

Commenting on the famed youth side that introduced English football to the likes of Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and the Neville Brothers, the Scot refused to acknowledge that iconic generation as a one-off, intimating he was confident of overseeing another batch of youngsters every bit their equal.

"Was that a one-off? No, it's not. It is going to happen again." Ferguson is quoted by The Guardian as saying.

"You can't think that Manchester United could have only one cycle of players as good as that. We will always keep chasing the dream. We will get a bunch like that again. We have to."

The thought of matching the six players that became synonymous with Manchester United's most decorated period, not to mention the likes of Robbie Savage and Keith Gillespie, all of whom collectively amassed in excess of 550 international caps, suggests Ferguson's desire for further successes remains as strong as ever.

He celebrates his 70<sup>th birthday on New Year's Eve and whilst some continue to speculate on his retirement, with one report claiming he would have done so had United beaten Barcelona in last season's Champions League final, more seasoned observers suggests it has merely served as motivation to right the wrongs of that chastening defeat at Wembley last May. Certainly on current evidence there is plenty of work to do, even though they have negotiated a daunting set of fixtures that has seen them play six of the sides that finished immediately beneath them last season.

Anyone at Old Trafford on Saturday would have noted the malaise of United's lethargic midfield. An out-of-position Wayne Rooney aside, even the most partisan of fans would accept the widely held opinion that the defending Premier League champions' midfield is crying out for reinvention. Anderson, Michael Carrick and to a lesser extent but one worth noting nonetheless, Darren Fletcher, have all struggled for consistency and Ferguson's endeavours to bring in Wesley Sneijder during the summer proved futile.

Tom Cleverley has looked every inch a Manchester United regular but some of the hyperbole and pressure thrust on the evidently gifted 22-year-old's shoulders is irresponsible. Ferguson's hopes of nurturing another golden generation of young Red Devils may be based on the precocious midfield trio of Ryan Tunnicliffe, Ravel Morrison and Paul Pogba, all of whom were the mainstays of United's tenth FA Youth Cup triumph last season.

Morrison's well documented off-field problems may yet deprive United of one of the country's burgeoning young talents, while Pogba's refusal to sign a contract extension is a major worry. Tunnicliffe is currently honing his trade on loan at Peterborough United, but was the recipient of United's Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award last season and plenty is expected of the industrious 18-year-old.

Speculation over the weekend suggested Ferguson is looking at a more immediate remedy to his side's lacklustre midfield.

The Sunday Times claim Villarreal's Bruno Soriano and Athletic Bilbao's Javi Martinez are being monitored ahead of possible bids in January. The latter has a buy-out clause of £28.8 million, but at 23-years-old would certainly fit Ferguson's recent outlay on youthful promise. Regularly championed as 'Spain's Patrick Vieira' by Bilbao's director of sport, Cuco Ziganda, and equally adept at centre-half, the World Cup winning youngster also captained the Under-21s to last summer's successful European Championships. The player recently suggested he was aware of Manchester United's interest although stopped short of inviting a move at this juncture in his career.

"When you hear of interest from a club like Manchester United, of course you feel proud. But I am happy at Athletic at the moment."

Luka Modric, Ross Barkley, Cheick Tiote, Yann M'Vila and Lassana Diarra are just a handful of the variedly talented midfielders linked, but while speculation over personnel will continue as long as Manchester United's midfield surrenders possession so meekly, it would seem the only certainty is that their extraordinary manager is committed to seeing through the necessary changes.

Ferguson's commitment to extending his remarkable legacy remains as strong as ever and despite the impressive emergence of Manchester City and the thus far insurmountable Barcelona, who would bet against British football's most decorated boss adding to the 37 trophies he and United have accumulated during their glittering quarter of a century together?

It may not please his rivals, but football's great survivor and most adaptable and prevailing manager, is not yet ready to succumb to Old Father Time, and the game is an infinitely more interesting place because of it.