Sir Alex Ferguson has suggested that there may be several changes in Manchester United’s lineup ahead.
The manager, who has been at the Premiership leader’s helm for 24 years, insisted that personal attachment to players has no place in successful management.
"It is a horrible thing to say but you cannot be sentimental in this job," he told The Manager. "I love the players that I've had and I've been very, very fortunate to have had great players who have come through my career with me.”
He cited Nicky Butt and Phil Neville as examples of players who had found they no longer had a place in his club. "All of the players I have had here have played a part in my success so when I see something happening - as in the cases of Nicky Butt and Phil Neville - I have had to release them to other opportunities,” he explained.
"It was getting to the stage where I was terrified of talking to them and telling them they weren't playing. It wasn't fair to them because they had played a big part in the resurrection of Manchester United. When the time came for me to let them go, I knew I was cutting really important, loyal strings and I didn't enjoy it.”
Ferguson’s words have strengthened speculation over the futures of players including Owen Hargreaves, Michael Owen, Tomasz Kuszczak, Wes Brown, Gabriel Obertan and Dimitar Berbatov. The latter has received interest from various European clubs, while Paul Scholes has not yet confirmed whether he will delay his retirement for another season.
United, who were knocked out of the FA cup in Saturday’s derby, stand to pull off a Premier League/UEFA Champions League double. They face Newcastle United tonight at St James’s Park.