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Lowdown on United

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Manchester United fans might not wish to ponder the fact but, come the end of the season, things just aint gonna be the same again.

Yes, Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement is nearly upon us - it seems like so long ago when the first mutterings were made in that direction.

United's start to the season has been a stuttering one, but they usually rely on coming on strong after Christmas. The second half of this season, however, is going to be different. Speculation is bound to enter overdrive mode as the press will link and line up potential candidates to succeed Fergie on the Old Trafford throne.

It could all be a tad unsettling for players and fans alike, and the team will be placed under intolerable pressure to give the boss a fitting send-off at the European Cup final, ironically being played in his home city of Glasgow at Hampden Park.

It could all just get a little too scripted and the disappointment would be huge should the team fluff their supposed lines.

Players such as David Beckham and Ryan Giggs promised in pre-season to win the lot for the boss in his final season - even the Charity Shield! That one headed down the M62 to Liverpool, a success story last season that might explain part of the added determination to reap more silverware.

There can be no questioning the fact that Sir Alex's reign has been a glorious one, and that his achievements put him right up there with the managerial greats.

It is hard to imagine now, but were the club not distracted by the Michael Knighton takeover saga at the start of the decade, Ferguson might just have been another entry on the United list of past managers.

His successful teams have been built on key individuals with big personalities. From Steve Bruce, Gary Pallister and Paul Ince, through to Peter Schmeichel, Roy Keane and Eric Cantona. The modern day thoroughbreds include Fabien Barthez and Juan Veron, recently supplemented by Laurent Blanc.

The nigh on £50m investment in Veron and Ruud van Nistelrooy appeared to confirm to the football world that Ferguson was determined to bow out in a blaze of glory. The United board had always been reported in the past to be a little bit reluctant to milk the Old Trafford cash cow for the manager's transfer targets.

It was only at the final game of last season at the Lane that there was a possibility that the Premiership's longest-serving manager might not see out his final season. It was reported that the thinking was that transfer funds would be better allocated to the new man.

Fergie won the day and big cheques were duly written. Another feature of that day was a sparkling 3-1 win for the boys. What team United will put out is unclear, but another win will go down just as nicely.