Sir Alex Ferguson wants Manchester United to keep a place open for Gary Neville on David Moyes's future backroom staff as he tries to retain a strong backbone to the club by involving former players at different levels.

Ferguson believes Neville is equipped to return to Old Trafford one day in the kind of coaching capacity that Paul Scholes is likely to take up if, as widely expected, he stops playing at the end of the season and announces his retirement for a second time.

It forms part of Ferguson's belief that the Premier League champions should look at Bayern Munich as a suitable model in terms of the way the Bundesliga club involve former players throughout their entire structure.

Neville is someone he is keen to integrate even if it is not an immediate appointment bearing in mind the former United defender's role as part of Roy Hodgson's coaching staff with the England national team.

Neville is firmly fixed on the idea of trying to get England to the World Cup in Brazil next summer.

Another complication is Neville's television work and his newly forged reputation as the most incisive pundit in the industry, having decided at the end of his playing career that he had no ambitions to become a manager and wanted to go into the media.

Ferguson, however, believes United should keep a position open and hope that the lure of returning to Old Trafford will eventually be too great for the former captain to turn down.