May 12, 2013, 4:20 PM EDT
It wasn’t quite Fergie time, but the timing worked all the same. So did the player who scored it, with Rio Ferdinand’s 87th minute header giving Manchester United an appropriately dramatic 2-1 win over Swansea City, sending Sir Alex Ferguson off with a victory in his last game at the Theatre of Dreams.
Ferguson, who announced the end of his 26-season run earlier this week, was able to celebrate one of the hallmarks of his Old Trafford tenure – a late winner. The most famous came in 1999, when United scored twice in stoppage time to claim a Champions League title over Bayern Munich in Barcelona, but for sentimental reasons, Manchester United fans may prove as apt to remember today’s clincher. Amid the emotion of the manager’s send off game, it was only right that Manchester United’s inexplicable tendency to steal games was on display one last time.
“If you think about it, those last-minute goals, the comebacks, even the defeats, are all part of this great football club of ours,” Ferguson said after the game, addressing the crowd during United’s post-match ceremonies.
That is was Ferdinand that got the winner couldn’t have been more appropriate. Ferguson made the England international the most expensive British player in history when he signed him from Leeds United in 2002. Since, through suspension, injury, and controversy, Ferdinand has remained a cornerstone of United’s defense, even when fitness had many suggesting Ferguson should move on. But in a season that saw Ferdinand rebound and claim a spot in the Professional Footballers Association team of the year, the veteran defender claimed his manager’s final Old Trafford goal.
Minutes later, after the final whistle had blown and the victors celebrated the club’s 20th first division title, Ferguson spoke to the crowd from the center circle, saying his final goodbyes to the United fan base (full transcript):
“First of all, it’s a thank you to Manchester United. Not just the directors, not just the medical staff, not just the coaching staff, the players or the supporters, it’s all of you. You have been the most fantastic experience of my life.
“I have been very fortunate to manage some of the greatest players in the country, let alone Manchester United. All these players here today have represented your club the proper way – they’ve won the championship in a fantastic fashion …”
“My retirement doesn’t mean the end of my relationship with the club, I’m able to now enjoy watching them rather than suffering with them …”
“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 and your job now is to stand by your new manager.”
“The players… I wish the players every success in the future. You know how good you are, you know the jersey you’re wearing, you know what it means to everyone here and don’t ever let yourself down. The expectation is always there.
Manchester United has one final match of the Ferguson era, next week at West Brom, but today was the real send off. Giving thanks on the part of himself and his entire family (with 11 grandchildren in attendance), Sir Alex completed the final chapter of the greatest managerial career in soccer history. All that remains is the epilogue.
Apr 19, 2015, 6:02 PM EDT
Catch up on all of Sunday’s action from Spain and Italy’s top flights.
Apr 19, 2015, 5:07 PM EDT
Thousands of supporters boycotted Newcastle’s match today, as they dropped their sixth straight in the league. With 35 points and five to play, should the Magpies be worrying about relegation?
Apr 19, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT
Following Liverpool’s FA Cup semifinal loss to Aston Villa, the Reds’ boss said his side must learn how to deal with the occasion in big matches.
Apr 19, 2015, 3:25 PM EDT
The horrible attack comes the night before a local derby, but police have ruled out fan violence as a motive.
Apr 19, 2015, 2:34 PM EDT
Go inside the Manchester Derby match day experience with a pair of supporter groups.
Apr 19, 2015, 1:49 PM EDT
The Manchester City winger was sent home quickly from the hospital and he confirmed the “tests have gone well.”
Apr 19, 2015, 1:27 PM EDT
The Manchester City manager wouldn’t be drawn into questions about his future at the club.
Apr 19, 2015, 12:51 PM EDT
Spurs bracketed halftime with a pair of goals and they stood tall to Newcastle’s spotty threat.
Apr 19, 2015, 11:58 AM EDT
Villa will play Arsenal in the FA Cup final after beating Liverpool against all the odds.
Apr 19, 2015, 11:39 AM EDT
Mourinho plays up defensive masterclass. But how did he quell United’s attackers?
Apr 19, 2015, 10:44 AM EDT
Spurs search for a European place as they take on struggling Newcastle from St. James’ Park.
Apr 19, 2015, 10:35 AM EDT
The home side produced enough moments at the Etihad to see off a timid West Ham side.
Apr 19, 2015, 9:55 AM EDT
With his goal of an Eredivisie title secure, Memphis Depay will be a popular transfer target this coming summer.
Apr 19, 2015, 9:15 AM EDT
The West Ham defender flubbed an easy clearance and sent the ball into his own net as Manchester City have dominated West Ham in the first half.
Apr 19, 2015, 8:16 AM EDT
Thomas Tuchel will follow in Jurgen Klopp’s footsteps for the second time when he takes over at Borussia Dortmund this summer.
Apr 19, 2015, 7:52 AM EDT
A pair of slipping sides meet at the Etihad in a rematch of last seasons title-clinching win for Manchester City.
Apr 19, 2015, 7:31 AM EDT
It’s that time of year, where big clubs look to the bench to replace important players in big games.
Apr 19, 2015, 1:14 AM EDT
Keeping tabs on all the action from Week 7 of the 2015 MLS season.
Apr 19, 2015, 12:41 AM EDT
Late, late, late drama as the StubHub Center.
Apr 18, 2015, 11:39 PM EDT
Two red cards for RSL, a late goal for Vancouver and the Whitecaps just keep winning.
- VIDEO: Is relegation a possibility for Newcastle United? 0
- Aston Villa 2-1 Liverpool: Gerrard denied fairytale ending as Villa stun Reds, reach FA Cup final 3
- Jose Mourinho: Chelsea had Manchester United’s stars “in our pockets.” Is he right? 1
- Manchester City 2-0 West Ham: Two first half goals put down poor Hammers 0
- Borussia Dortmund names Thomas Tuchel as Jurgen Klopp’s successor 0
- MLS roundup: Goals galore as Sounders, Crew SC, Galaxy cruise to three points 1