MANCHESTER: Sir Alex Ferguson, in an emotional farewell speech on the Old Trafford pitch, effectively ordered Manchester United fans to stand behind new manager David Moyes.
Ferguson walked out to the centre of the pitch after the 2-1 home win over Swansea on the penultimate day of the season to hail the supporters in a jam-packed stadium.
He began with an all-round personal vote of appreciation, saying: “First of all it’s a thankyou to Manchester United – not just to the directors, the medical staff, the staff, the playing staff but too 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 at Manchester United, and all these players have won the championship in a fantastic fashion. Well done to the players.
“Retirement doesn’t mean the end to my life. I can now enjoy watching them rather than suffer with them. But the comebacks, the last-minute goals, even the defeats, are all part of this great clubs of ours.”
Then he prepared the club for the managerial handover by saying: “When we had bad times 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.”
Ferguson paid tribute the retiring midfielder Paul Scholes – “one of the greatest players this club has ever had or will ever had.” He wished midfielder Darren Fletcher a “speedy comeback to our club” from illness and wished the players “every success in the future.”
Ferguson told them: “You know how good you are and don’t ever let yourself down. The expectation is always there.”
The Premier League trophy was carried out for the presentation party by two of Ferguson’s former United captains Steve Bruce and Bryan Robson.