Sir Alex Ferguson: Man Utd lift Premier League trophy

 

Sir Alex Ferguson marked his final match as manager of Manchester United at Old Trafford by lifting the Premier League trophy on behalf of his team.

United beat Swansea 2-1 but had already won their 13th Premier League title and club's 20th championship on 22 April.

Ferguson, 71, was given a guard of honour before the match and addressed the crowd after the final whistle.

"Everyone at the club and you the fans have been the most fantastic experience of my life," said the emotional Scot.

Ferguson on 'unbelievable' send-off

"Thank you. I have been very fortunate to manage some of the greatest players in the country. These players have won the championship in fantastic fashion. Well done to them.

"When we had bad times here, everyone stood by me and your job now is to stand by your new manager."

Ferguson will end his 26-year reign after the club's last match of the season, at West Brom on Sunday, 19 May.

The former Aberdeen boss, who won 38 trophies during his time at Old Trafford, will be succeeded by fellow Scot David Moyes, who will leave Everton to take over on a six-year contract from 1 July.

In his 1,499th game as United manager, Ferguson's side took the lead against Swansea through Mexican striker Javier Hernandez.

Spanish forward Michu equalised for the visitors before United defender Rio Ferdinand won the match three minutes before full-time.

Afterwards, Ferguson was handed a microphone and addressed the 75,572 sell-out crowd.

Ferguson's Man Utd trophies

Sir Alex Ferguson

Premier League: 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013.

FA Cup: 1990, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2004

League Cup: 1992, 2006, 2009, 2010

Champions League: 1999, 2008

Cup Winners Cup: 1991

Fifa Club World Cup: 2008

Uefa Super Cup: 1992

Inter-Continental Cup: 1999

FA Charity/Community Shield: 1990 (shared), 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011

"I've got no script in my mind, I'm just going to ramble on and hope I get to the core of what this club is meant to be," he said.

"I have been very fortunate. I have been able to manage some of the greatest players in the country, let alone Manchester United.

"My retirement doesn't mean the end of my life with the club. I will now be able to enjoy watching them rather than suffer with them.

"The players, I wish the players 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.

"Don't let yourselves down. The expectation is always there."

Ferguson paid tribute to the retiring Paul Scholes and fellow midfielder Darren Fletcher, who is suffering from chronic bowel disease.

The Scot thanked his family and made mention of his 11 grandchildren, all of whom were in attendance.

He left the field before returning with his players to raise the trophy and take part in prolonged celebrations on the pitch.

Ferguson walked back down the tunnel for the final time as manager and then gave a series of media interviews.

"Fantastic, what a send-off," he said.

"I was bubbling there for a bit. All those flags, the atmosphere today was unbelievable the whole game. I'm proud of my fans today."

He confirmed that striker Wayne Rooney, who was not involved in the Swansea match, has handed in a transfer request.

Ferguson says emotional farewell

"We have refused it," Ferguson told BBC Sport. "He should go away and think it over again. He wasn't happy about being taken off a few times this season - but a Wayne Rooney in top form wouldn't be taken off."

Ferguson revealed when his decision to retire was taken and a key reason behind it.

"I decided to retire last Christmas," said the former St Mirren, Aberdeen and Scotland boss. "Things changed when my wife Cathy's sister died. She has lost her best friend, her sister. Also, I wanted to go out a winner.

"It was very difficult [not to reveal it]. There were times when we sometimes blurted it out to the family. We told our sons in March. My brother didn't even know until Tuesday.

"I've got a lot of things to do. My son, Jason, has been organising things. I won't be sitting still."

Ferguson added that his most important achievement was the first league title with United in 1993. "The door opened after that," he said. "We just grew and grew and grew. We had some fantastic teams."