• Sir Alex Ferguson will stay for 'at least three years'
• Jack Rodwell and Ashley Young among transfer targets
Sir Alex Ferguson, who is reeling from what he said was the worst "hiding" he had suffered as Manchester United's manager, is planning to stay at Old Trafford long enough to oversee an overhaul of personnel, aimed at dismantling Barcelona's European dynasty.
Ferguson, who will be 70 this year, is approaching the 25th anniversary of his appointment. But the most successful manager in the game still sees himself as being in the job on a long-term basis and has told United that only his health will prevent him from working.
Instead the manager is going to break up his squad in what promises to be a summer of change at Old Trafford, with up to 10 players on their way out. The Glazer family have told Ferguson that he will be given substantial funds with which to purchase replacements.
It is nearly 10 years since Ferguson announced a plan to retire, only to change his mind and talk of nearly having made "the biggest mistake of my life". His spending this summer will be designed to close the gap on a Barcelona side whose masterclass of passing at Wembley strengthened their claim to be recognised as the greatest club side ever.
The task will be a significant one but Ferguson sees himself working at Old Trafford for at least three years, according to one of his closest allies in the game. The aim in that time will be to catch and overhaul Barcelona. Ferguson may be encouraged that Pep Guardiola, the Barcelona manager, indicated after his team's 3-1 win on Saturday that he would stay at the Camp Nou for one more season. Guardiola, the youngest manager to win the European Cup twice, is being seen at Old Trafford as a candidate to manage United but that time seems far away. Ferguson's attitude to his career could be sensed in a recent conversation with an associate, in which he said that "once the brain stops working, you are on the road to death".
United's rebuilding was a necessity before the Champions League final, with Edwin van der Sar joining Gary Neville in retirement and Owen Hargreaves being released from his contract.
Ferguson must establish whether Paul Scholes is to end his playing career and if, as is increasingly expected, that is the case, one idea is for the former England midfielder to take control of the reserve team.
Even if Scholes can be persuaded to continue, however, Ferguson is aware of the need to bring in a top central midfielder. United admire Wesley Sneijder but are not certain an agreement with Internazionale will materialise. Luka Modric of Tottenham Hotspur has also been discussed at length.
A £17m deal has been put in place for David de Gea, Atlético Madrid's Spain Under-21 goalkeeper, and talks are at an advanced stage with Lens about an £8m move for the 18-year-old centre-half Raphaël Varane. Ferguson also believes that Jack Rodwell has the necessary attributes to flourish at Old Trafford, if he can be lured away from Everton.
Ashley Young of Aston Villa is another target. United made inquiries about signing Young in the January transfer window and are now competing with Liverpool for his signature.
Ferguson must also decide whether to offer Michael Owen a new contract. Dimitar Berbatov presents a different problem. The Bulgarian finished as the Premier League's joint top scorer with 20 goals but he did not make the squad against Barcelona. Berbatov did not sit with the other players who were not in Ferguson's 18-man squad and he is thought to have watched the match in the changing room.
Asked about reports that Berbatov had left Wembley early, the striker's agent, Emil Danchev, said: "It's nonsense. Mitko [Berbatov] was at Wembley and watched the game. There is nothing to say. Let us take a few days."
United are encouraged by the development of their FA Youth Cup-winning side, particularly Ravel Morrison, Ryan Tunnicliffe and Paul Pogba. Senior players who could leave include Tomasz Kuszczak, Wes Brown, Gabriel Obertan, Bébé and Darron Gibson.
Nani, the club's player of the year, said after the Champions League final that he would be at Old Trafford next season but the winger is known to be open-minded about the possibility of a transfer.