Alex Ferguson has described suggestions he bequeathed an "ageing" Manchester United squad to hapless Old Trafford successor David Moyes as "insulting".
Moyes took over from his fellow Scot following the retirement of Ferguson -- British football's most successful manager -- after the end of the 2012/13 season.
Some pundits said former Everton manager Moyes's already difficult task had been made harder by a lack of succession planning on the part of his illustrious predecessor.
But Ferguson said Moyes, who was sacked less than a season into his time at Old Trafford after United failed to qualify for the lucrative European Champions League, had made a mistake in not retaining former assistant manager Mike Phelan in his backroom staff.
"It is an insult to say that I left an ageing squad," said Ferguson during an interview with actor and United fan James Nesbitt at London's Drury Lane Theatre on Sunday to publicise his updated autobiography.
"Chelsea have seven players over 30 but nobody talks about them being an old team. It is easy to defend myself against all of that because all the statistics are there. I think he should have kept Mike Phelan, he was a United man; loyal, hard-working and a good judge of the players. My advice to David was that he should maybe keep Mike Phelan. I was always supportive of David, whenever he called I gave him the advice I would have wanted when I was manager. But David will do well in the future: life doesn't end when you leave United".
Meanwhile Ferguson reiterated his support for new United manager Louis van Gaal, who on Sunday oversaw the club's creditable 1-1 draw with Premier League leaders Chelsea at Old Trafford.