Sir Alex Ferguson never expected to eclipse fellow Scot Sir Matt Busby as Manchester United's longest-serving manager when he headed south from Aberdeen in 1986.
When Ferguson takes his place in the dugout for the match at Chelsea on December 19 he will have been in charge of the club for 24 years, one month and 14 days, one more than Busby's total during two stints - from October 1945 to January 1969 and December 1970 to June 1971.
"I could never have imagined that I would surpass Sir Matt's longevity." Ferguson said. "When I came here, my main thought was to win the league and that was my driving force. I couldn't visualise that I would end up with 24 years behind me, going into my 25th year. I could never have imagined that in a million years."
As Ferguson surveys the way managers tend to be treated by trigger-happy boards these days, he must feel thankful that Martin Edwards had the strength of character to stand by him during those difficult early days.
Ferguson also benefited from the presence of Busby, plus Sir Bobby Charlton, who remains such a familiar figure at Old Trafford and always ready with a bit of advice.
"You don't have that in a lot of boardrooms," Ferguson added in the Daily Telegraph.
"You only need to look at Bayern Munich as a great example of how to run clubs. Bayern is filled with former players, who understand what Bayern Munich are like and they understand the history of the club and what it takes to remain consistent.
"When I came to United, I had Sir Matt at the club and Bobby Charlton there also. They were a comforting part for me in the sense that I knew they could understand what I was looking to do and achieve.
"That was because their philosophy was exactly the same as mine in what I was trying to achieve. They knew that I was embracing the philosophy of bringing back youth into the club and working the youth system.
"I think that is what great clubs should be about. They should have people who understand the history of the club and we are fortunate that way."
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