The Soccer Desk

United Say Farewell to Ferguson with 2-1 Win


Red certainly was the color earlier today at Old Trafford as Manchester United sent off legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson with a 2-1 win over Swansea City.

With goals from Javier Hernandez and Rio Ferdinand, United gave Ferguson his 895th win in his final home match. However, the game will be remembered more for the rousing ovation that greeted Ferguson as he walked onto the pitch—with both sides forming a guard of honour—and the title celebrations that came after the final whistle.

Ferguson recently announced his retirement after United had secured their 20th first division title. Over his 26-year career with the Red Devils, Ferguson has won 38 trophies including 13 Premier League and two UEFA Champions League triumphs. Few others have trophy cabinets that are stocked like the Scot’s, and Ferguson’s tenure as the longest United manager took the Manchester club from a mid-table side in 1986 to a perennial winner in present day.

Both sides form a guard of honor as Sir Alex Ferguson walks onto the Old Trafford pitch for the final time. (101GreatGoals)

Both sides form a guard of honour as Sir Alex Ferguson walks onto the Old Trafford pitch for the final time. (101GreatGoals)

Sunday’s match blended the success of today with the achievements of old as former title-winning captains Bryan Robson and Steve Bruce joined current duo Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra in the celebrations. Still, United did have a game to play amid the pageantry and Swansea had no intentions of rolling over for the champions.

United started the match well and Hernandez delivered the first goal after Ashley Williams failed to clear a Robin van Persie cross. The hosts maintained their pressure but Swansea recovered and settled into the game with their slick passing style.

They had their reward after halftime when Michu volleyed in Nathan Dyer’s cross, drawing the Swans level but not dampening the mood at Old Trafford. Entering the game’s late stages, it seemed fitting that United might have a chance to win the match in Fergie Time; however, the winner came in the 87th minute when a Ryan Giggs corner found Rio Ferdinand for an unstoppable volley.

Another late goal and another three points—it may have been business as usual for Ferguson, but the title celebrations that followed gave him the chance to address the Old Trafford crowd. “The last-minute goals, the comebacks, even the defeats are part of this great football club and it has been an unbelievable experience for all of us,” he said. Overall, it was a send-off fit for a king, and few managers have had a reign that rivals Ferguson’s time with United.

Rooney’s Future in Doubt

Perhaps the only dark storyline on the day was Wayne Rooney’s omission from the team and the rumors surrounding a possible departure from Manchester. Rooney has reportedly handed in multiple transfer requests, and Ferguson noted this fact when he explained why the striker was not selected for Sunday’s match.

After the signing of Robin van Persie, Rooney has had a quiet 2012-13 season and was dropped for several of United’s bigger matches. The striker also has a tenuous relationship with former Everton boss David Moyes, who will succeed Ferguson as United’s manager.

Recently, Rooney has been linked with Premier League rivals Chelsea and recently-crowned French champions Paris Saint-Germain.

Paul Scholes Plays Final Home Match

Despite dedicating Sunday’s celebration to Ferguson, United supporters were just as supportive of Paul Scholes after the midfielder announced his retirement on Saturday. The former England international made his 497th Premier League appearance for United and received a hefty ovation when he was substituted in the 66th minute.

Paul Scholes challenges for the ball in his final home game for Manchester United. (Belfast Telegraph)

Paul Scholes challenges for the ball in his final home game for Manchester United. (Belfast Telegraph)

Scholes ends his career with a trophy haul similar to Ferguson’s, including eleven Premier League titles and two Champions League titles that all came under the legendary manager. He began his United career in 1993 and is widely-considered to be one of his generation’s best midfielders.

Scholes also has the third-most appearances in the history of club and one of the most-scrutinized disciplinary records with 120 bookings and ten sendings off in all competitions. However, the midfielder managed to remain out of Jon Moss’ book in Sunday’s match much to the dismay of many who believed that a customary yellow card would have made for a truly proper send-off.