Sir Alex Ferguson's final home match at Old Trafford played out in the most Alex Ferguson way possible. Starting with a unified guard of honor from the players and staff of both Man United and Swansea, a smiling Ferguson took his seat on the bench while the home fans all waved their plastic "Champions 2013" flags and Wayne Rooney watched in exile from the executive suite prison cell. Instead of immediately chomping a wad of gum to death, he seemed a bit more relaxed. But being two matches away from retirement and just 90 minutes away from lifting the Premier League trophy for the 13th time will do that.
Chicharito scored the match's first goal in the 39th minute to give Ferguson a familiar 1-0 lead. Swansea's Michu did his best to try and taint the day by equalizing shortly after halftime. In the end, that old Ferguson magic won out as Rio Ferdinand scored in the 87th minute — his first goal in five years — to give Man United a 2-1 victory.
After the final whistle, Ferguson took the microphone and gaveFerguson paid tribute to Paul Scholes, who also announced he will be retiring for the second time at the end of the season. He also called for the fans to stand by incoming manager David Moyes just as the club did for him.
Here's his speech in full (via The Mirror):
"I have absolutely no script in my mind. I'm just going to ramble on and hope I get to the core of what this football club has meant to me.
"Thank you to Manchester United, not just the directors, coaching staff, medical staff, the players, the fans, all of you - you have been the most fantastic experience of my life, so thank you.
"I've been very fortunate. I have been able to manage some of the greatest players in the country, let alone Manchester United.
"All the players here today have represented this club the proper way. They won the championship in a fantastic fashion, so well done to the players.
"My retirement doesn't mean the end of my time at the club. I'll now be able to enjoy watching them, rather than suffer with them.
"But, if you think about it, the last-minute goals, the comebacks, even the defeats, are all part of this great football 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 I had bad times here the club stood by me. All my staff stood by me, the players stood by me, you stood by me, and your job now is to stand by our new manager. That is important.
"Before I start blubbing, I just want to pay tribute to Paul Scholes, who retires today. He has been unbelievable, one of the greatest players this club has had and will ever have. I wish him a happy retirement. I would also like to say a little word wishing Darren Fletcher a speedy return to our club.
"To the players, I wish them every success in the future. You know how good you are, you know the jersey you are wearing, you know what it means to everyone here and don't ever let yourselves down.
"The expectation is always there, so I'm going inside now for a while, but before I go I'd like to say thank you from the whole Ferguson family - and all 11 grandchildren! Thank you."
From there, the only thing left to do was give him the trophy that he has won more than anyone else. Instead of the club's captains lifting the trophy, they let Ferguson do it himself one last time. Unless he decides to come out of retirement six months from now.
- Sports & Recreation
- Sir Alex Ferguson
- Man United