Manchester, (Agencies): Manchester United hope to retain Gary Neville as coach as he is a vital part of the "family atmosphere" at the club, manager Alex Ferguson said on Friday.

The 35-year-old defender, who spent his whole career at the club he supported since he was a boy, hung up his boots earlier this week but Ferguson will not let him go very far.

"The next step for our club is to retain Gary in a capacity which he will be satisfied with," Ferguson told a news conference.

"Because I feel that his contribution and what he can contribute in future years is about what we are -- we are a family club and he has been part of that.

"He has created that family atmosphere in the dressing room time and time again over the years, and I think we want him to stay in a capacity. He is an absolute legend at the club and will remain so for the rest of his life."

Ferguson said Neville had taken his coaching badges and was ready to go into that side of the sport.

"I do think he has a role to play as a coach, I really do, particularly with the young players because he's been a great example to young players," the manager said.