1. Fergie signs off in classic fashion
The old man must have had a glint in his eye and allowed himself a wee cheeky grin when he saw Rio Ferdinand secure a just about deserved victory over Swansea yesterday with what has become more synonymous with the Fergie era than anything else – a late goal. Asked by one media outlet after his final game in charge of United at Old Trafford what he will miss most when he finally hangs up the famous old zip up coat next weekend, Fergie said the late goals, ‘I love those last minute goals’. Over his near 27 years in charge, Ferguson’s teams have gained increasing belief that they are never beaten. The great man has instilled in his players a fierce belief, admirable resolve and a steely determination, which has rescued us on so many, glorious occasions. Ok so Rio’s 87th minute winner on Sunday was hardly up near the top of the list with 1999 or Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s FA Cup winner over Liverpool, but it was another reminder of the standards upheld at Old Trafford. With the title won several weeks ago, the result mattered little yesterday but the likes of Rio and Nemanja Vidic were flowing forward in the final quarter of the match, no doubt fueled by their manager’s and indeed their own desire to play the United way and give him a winning send off for his final game at his spiritual home.
2. Rooney to follow Fergie out of the door?
It spoke volumes on Sunday that Wayne Rooney was not even selected in the squad for the Swansea game. Ferguson explained post match that Rooney had asked for a transfer request prior to the game and even though he said the club had refused it, that it was now a problem for David Moyes to deal with. For me, I can’t see any future for him at the club. He kicked up a fuss in 2010 when he said he wanted to leave and less than three years later, he states his desire to leave again. Fans at any club would want to get shot of a player after that and at United, if you don’t want to play there then there must either be something wrong with you mentally or bridges have been seriously burned. Of course I have to point out that Rooney is a special player. Despite an attitude issue, a breakdown in his relationship with Ferguson and dips in form and fitness, he’s still heavily contributed this season. United would be weaker if he was to depart but during the Fergie era, he never shrugged a difficult decision. The Rooney saga will be Moyes’ first big issue to manage but he mustn’t shirk it. Of course there’s a chance Rooney might stay but if he’s asked to go TWICE, I can’t fathom that he’ll be there come the start of next season. As I say if he goes it will weaken us so Moyes will also have to replace him with a big name. Viva Ronaldo!
3. First class United and Swansea
It was Fergie’s final home game as United manager and the club provided the suitable surroundings and treatment to allow him to bow out in style. The ground was awash with red, white and gold as a special ceremony and mosaic was arranged to welcome both Fergie and the champions onto the turf, while both teams formed a guard of honour as the greatest manager ever strode onto the Old Trafford turf for one final time. Both sets of fans played their part too. Sir Matt Busby Way and the general areas around the stadium, indeed the whole city, was buzzing all day. Flags, hats and scarves were being sold by the truckload and the atmosphere in the stadium for both the prelude and the climax to the game was electric. Since Fergie announced his retirement, many United fans have been left saddened by the news. But on Sunday, we all came together to simply pay tribute and thank a true legend. I’d also like to make a special note of the Swansea fans and also United’s inclusion of them in our special day. While every United fan had either a red or gold placard to hold up, as well as a flag to wave to create a hugely impressive visual, they did not ignore the Swansea supporters, who also had white flags and placards to wave, and which I am led to believe were emblazoned with a tribute to the Welsh club’s own significant achievement this season, winning the League Cup. Also, despite having no particular love or connection to United, there were very few empty seats in the away end after the final whistle, with the vast majority of the travelling support staying to watch the Premier League trophy presentation and congratulate the 20 time champions.
4. Fergie’s message
In the lead up to the weekend, I was readying myself to be reduced to a blubbering mess, with Fergie set to address the Old Trafford crowd after the game, as has become customary over the years at United’s last home game. It was delivered in typical style. He endeared himself to his extended family but did not falter or weep, remaining characteristically stoic and strong throughout. He’s not one for emotion anyway. He’s passionate and he can get angry, but it’s very rare to see him cry or appear weak. His message to the fans was not touchy feely or particularly tear-jerking, it simply pointed to the future and how this talented squad he had left us with need to remember that they and the club will go on long after he departs. He reminded the young players in particular to remember the shirt they’re wearing and to never let themselves down and he told the Old Trafford faithful to get behind the new man. We should all heed his advice.
5. A side set for a period of dominance
I’ve said this a few times already this season but while the opposition fans and critics bore us with the fanciful notion that this is one of the worst United sides under Fergie, I am of the opinion that Fergie, while he will not be around to mastermind it, has already laid the foundations for another era of success with the squad he has put together. As with every great team you need a blend of youth and experience. The likes of Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs will either not be around next season or are nearing the end of their careers. The senior players of the squad – Robin van Persie, Michael Carrick, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Antonio Valencia and (for now) Wayne Rooney, Nani and Anderson – have been there before, but it is among the undercurrent of true top, young, exciting talent that you can find the bedrock of this club’s success for the next few years. David de Gea, Rafael da Silva, Jonny Evans, Danny Welbeck, Javier Hermandez, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Tom Cleverley and let’s not forget the imminent arrival of Wilfried Zaha. Unlike Manchester City last year, we will strengthen this summer. If that involves the departure of Rooney, then so be it. Fergie always strengthened his sides when we won titles previously and with the growth in the number of title challengers over the years and with Chelsea and City sure to be stronger in particular next season, Moyes will need to make an impact in the transfer market. The future’s bright, the future’s red and white.
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