Rio Ferdinand’s late goal helped Sir Alex’s side beat Swansea City 2-1 in his final home game as the famous old stadium also bid farewell to another legend - Paul Scholes.
Sir Alex Ferguson waited in the tunnel while 70,000-odd red flags waved tirelessly when an announcement in background came: “The impossible dream made possible by Sir Alex Ferguson.” He then emerged to a cacophony of noise at Old Trafford for one last time as the manager of Manchester United on May 12, 2013. A stadium filled with emotions witnessed fans screaming and chanting as banners showcasing the legendary Scot’s achievements were displayed over the stands.
Appreciating the grand sending-off, a humble Ferguson walked past the guard of honour – provided by both sets of players – by clapping at everyone as the footballing world glued to their TV sets to take a final glance at the historic moment. On the field, Manchester United were playing Swansea City. But the match was of little significance as the Red Devils had already wrapped up their 20th league title and their last one till now.
In his 723rd game at “The Theatre Of Dreams”, Javier Hernandez gave United a first-half lead managing a low finish under Gerhard Tremmel. United looked the better side in the opening period, but things changed in the second period when Michu scored an early equaliser.
The Spaniard was on a mission to spoil the party at Old Trafford, brilliantly turning in a Nathan Dyer’s cross after 49 minutes. Michu, who was enjoying a dream run that season, got a deserved goal. The strike will forever be remembered due to the significance associated with the day. The equaliser, however, did not dent the fans as the noise level continued to remain high.
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Wayne Routledge then came close to scoring before David de Gea saved a shot from Pablo Hernandez. Ferguson made a double change after the hour mark with Paul Scholes departing Old Trafford pitch for a final time to a raucous applause. Scholes had earlier announced his retirement and that was his last home game and his 717th United match.
He was replaced by Anderson while Antonio Valencia came in place of Danny Welbeck. With United pushing hard for the three points, there was an expected late twist to the tale. The inevitable happened when Rio Ferdinand’s first goal for five years gave Ferguson a perfect sending-off at Old Trafford.
The great Scot took to the pitch after the final whistle and told the crowd, “You have been the most fantastic experience of my life.” But the portion of the speech, which every United fan remembers till now, came a little later. “I’d also like to remind you that when we had bad times here, the club stood by me, all my staff stood by me, the players stood by me. Your job now is to stand by our new manager. That is important,” he added.
His retirement after 26 years at the club saddened everyone. Many knew this day would come, but when it came the footballing world was left in tears. However, it is unfair to associate the day with only one legend, while the other also played for a final time in the famous old stadium. It was never the same at Old Trafford as Sir Alex Ferguson and Paul Scholes left a massive hole to fill.