Ferguson praise for Blanc
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has expressed his admiration for France coach Laurent Blanc.
The former stylish defender spend two seasons at Old Trafford a decade ago as his playing career was coming to an end.
Blanc is now forging an impressive reputation for himself as a coach.
After winning the French league with Bordeaux, Blanc has gone on to revive the fortunes of the France team following their calamitous performance at the last World Cup.
Yet, so far, Blanc has refused to commit his future beyond this summer's European Championships in Poland and Ukraine and his name is starting to get linked with many of the major jobs, including Chelsea.
Blanc has also been mentioned as a potential replacement for Ferguson at some point, although the Scot has said many times there is no immediate prospect of him standing down.
However, it is clear that Ferguson admires the work Blanc has done with France and, speaking to French radio station RMC Sport about the 46-year-old, the United boss emphsised why he feels the one-time central defender has been such a success.
"The France team is more balanced and has become a winning team again," he said.
"As in 1998, it has established a balance between young and experienced players.
"When Laurent played in Manchester he followed our training methods very carefully.
"That's very intelligent and obviously he has qualities as a coach because he made Les Bleus a winning team again."
Blanc has also successfully reintroduced United full-back Patrice Evra into the fold following the five-match ban he received for his part in the South African mutiny, when France went on strike in protest at the coaching methods of coach Raymond Domenech.
"I spoke with Patrice at the time," said Ferguson.
"He suffered greatly. Unfairly in my opinion.
"He was the spokesman for a group and the views he expressed were not only his personal ones. But he was the one who got punished.
"He is very happy now though, and particularly with Laurent as the coach."
Ferguson evidently has much on his plate at the minute following that stunning defensive collapse by his team against Everton on Sunday.
By his own admission, the 4-4 draw has turned next Monday's Manchester derby into a Barclays Premier League title decider, one that he denies pits passion against money.
"That's not really accurate," he said. "I don't agree with that.
"It's true that Manchester City became rich in a pretty incredible way, but it's not the fact that there is a new owner and new ambitions which necessarily change things.
"The difference is perhaps that we're trying to build with youth."
To that end, Ferguson admits to having looked at Lille's brilliant young schemer Eden Hazard, whom it is suggested might be a United transfer target in the summer.
"I came to watch Lille play Lyon and followed Hazard of course, along with other players.
"He is a very good player who has many qualities. He is particularly fast over the first 10 yards."
It is part of the job Ferguson loves, as are showpiece occasions like Monday, when the eyes of the world will be on the Etihad Stadium.
"Being Manchester United manager is exhausting work, that requires a lot of energy," he said.
"But it is the club that meets all my expectations and allows me to meet all the challenges.
"There is a stable family atmosphere. In short, I thrive there."