Soccer: Ten goal thriller brings curtain down on Fergie show

By Rob Harris

Alex Ferguson waves to supporters. Photo / AP
Alex Ferguson waves to supporters. Photo / AP

Alex Ferguson. Former Manchester United manager.

At the end of his 1500th game in charge of Manchester United yesterday, the 71-year-old Scot bowed in front of thousands of applauding fans and then bowed out of soccer for good.

The most successful managerial career in British football history is over, leaving a void that might not be filled for generations.

And what a thrilling way to leave at West Bromwich Albion, the first 5-5 draw in the Premier League on the back of a 13th championship for Ferguson.

It was 9675 days ago that John Sivebaek scored the first United goal under Ferguson, and yesterday Javier Hernandez scored the last.

"It is not only a loss for the British fans but he has changed football across the world," Hernandez said. "He has been here for 26 years and made the impossible dream come true."

Referee Michael Oliver, only 1 year old when Ferguson took charge of United in 1986, blew the whistle on his glittering career at the Hawthorns. From now on, the defensive fragilities on display yesterday are incoming manager David Moyes' problem.

After the match, the manager went over to bow to the United fans who had backed him as he waited until 1990 to win the first of 38 trophies for the club. But he can't have been pleased to see his team throw away a 4-2 lead to be pegged back to 5-5. It had seemed like fate that Ferguson would witness his team conjuring another of the memorable goals in stoppage-time that characterised his reign.

Ferguson signalled he is ready for a quieter life by placidly watching his players rip West Brom apart and then showed none of the usual anger at their capitulation.

He was lured from Aberdeen to United in November 1986. Since then he has won 13 Premier League titles, the Champions League twice, five FA Cups, four League Cups, the European Cup Winners' Cup, the UEFA Super Cup, the Club World Cup, the Intercontinental Cup and 10 Community Shields.

Little wonder that even West Brom fans were buying the commemorative scarves being sold outside the stadium. In the stands were affectionate banners, including "Thank you dinosaur".

Before kickoff, West Brom's players formed a guard of honour for the champions and were then joined by the United team to usher Ferguson on to the pitch.

West Brom spoiled the party with late goals from Romelu Lukaku and Youssouf Mulumbu, who completed his hat-trick. James Morrison scored the other for West Brom while United netted through Shinji Kagawa, a Jonas Olsson own goal, Alexander Buttner, Robin van Persie and Hernandez.

When the end came, Ferguson was ushered by Ryan Giggs to thank their visiting fans. The home fans showed their appreciation, too. They got to witness the end of an era.

- AP

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