Alex Ferguson bows out with emotional home win
Alex Ferguson thanked Manchester United’s supporters and urged them to stand behind his successor, David Moyes, after an emotional final home game as manager on Sunday.
Ferguson, who announced his shock retirement earlier this week, addressed supporters directly during an unscripted on-pitch speech after a 2-1 win over Swansea City closed his 26-year association with the Old Trafford dug-out.
“You’ve been the most fantastic experience of my life,” he said, as fans in the crowd of 75,572 fell silent to listen to the man who has brought 38 trophies to the club since arriving from Aberdeen in 1986.
“I’ve been very fortunate I’ve been able to manage some of the greatest players in the country, let alone Manchester United. All these players here today have represented the club the proper way and won the championship in fantastic fashion. Well done to the players.
“My retirement doesn’t mean the end of my life with the club. I’ll be able to enjoy watching them, rather than suffer with them.
“If you think about it, those last-minute goals, those comebacks, even the defeats, are all part of this great club of ours. It’s been an unbelievable experience for all of us, so thank you for that.
“I’d also like to remind you that when we had bad times here, the club stood by me, all the staff stood by me, and the players stood by me. Your job now is to stand by our new manager.”
Ferguson, 71, later hoisted the Premier League trophy in front of his jubilant players, three weeks after United secured an unprecedented 20th English league title with a 3-0 home win over Aston Villa.
He was then joined on the pitch by his grandchildren, as his players celebrated the 13th league crown of the Ferguson era beneath a steady downpour of rain and red ticker-tape.
Everton manager Moyes will take over as manager on July 1, having signed a six-year contract, with Ferguson taking up a role as a director and ambassador.
Fittingly, an 87th-minute goal by Rio Ferdinand in front of the Stretford End earned United victory, after Javier Hernandez’s first-half strike was cancelled out early in the second period by Michu.
Ferguson had earlier been given a guard of honour by players from United and Swansea as he made his way onto the pitch before the game.
The occasion was slightly overshadowed by Ferguson’s confirmation that Wayne Rooney has asked to leave the club.
Ferguson dropped the 27-year-old striker from his match-day squad and explained afterwards that he had not been in the right frame of mind to play.
“I don’t think Wayne was keen to play because he’s asked for a transfer and he wants to think it through in his mind. I think that’s a good idea,” Ferguson told Sky Sports.
“We’re not going to let him go. I think maybe he’s a little bit frustrated that he’s been taken off once or twice in the last few weeks.”
In another sign of the changing times at Old Trafford, Paul Scholes made his farewell appearance after announcing that he is to retire for the second time.
The 38-year-old English midfielder, who returned from retirement in January last year after only seven months out of the game, played for 66 minutes before departing to a standing ovation.
“Today it was just nice to get through the game. I thought Sir Alex handled it well. He has done a fantastic job here,” said Scholes, who was only the third United player to make 700 appearances for the club after Ryan Giggs and Bobby Charlton.
The final game of Ferguson’s United reign will be at West Bromwich Albion next weekend.
Moyes was given a warm send-off by Everton’s fans after his side beat West Ham United 2-0 at Goodison Park in his final home game.
Everton’s players formed a guard of honour after the game for Moyes and captain Phil Neville, who is also leaving the club at the end of the season following eight years’ service.
“There’s always a worry when you’re joining another club, but Everton fans were magnificent for me today,” Moyes told BBC Sport.
“David Unsworth scored my first goal at Goodison 11 years ago after about 25 seconds and I’m delighted I finished it off here with a win. I thank all the players who have worked with me.”
Elsewhere on Sunday, Emmanuel Adebayor scored an 83rd-minute winner for Tottenham Hotspur to snatch a 2-1 win at Stoke City that sent Spurs into the Champions League places at the expense of Arsenal, who host freshly-crowned FA Cup winners Wigan Athletic on Tuesday.
Wigan’s hopes of avoiding relegation were compromised after Norwich City beat West Bromwich Albion 4-0 and Newcastle United won 2-1 at relegated Queens Park Rangers to secure their top-flight statuses.
Fulham are all but mathematically assured of escaping the drop despite a 3-1 loss to Liverpool, but Sunderland, who drew 1-1 at home to Southampton, and Aston Villa remain in danger.