Red-letter day for United fans

Alex Ferguson thanked tens of thousands of Manchester United fans as they gathered to salute him and his final English champion side at the start of an open-top bus parade outside Old Trafford yesterday. United manager Ferguson, one of football’s most successful bosses, is retiring after guiding the Red Devils to the English Premier League title for a 13th time.

Sir Alex Ferguson
Grand prize: Retiring manager Alex Ferguson holds the EPL trophy on the bus

More than 75,000 supporters inside old Trafford gave him a rousing send-off on Sunday after United marked his last home game in charge with a 2-1 league win over Swansea City. And 24 hours on, the impact of that tribute was still proving a lot for the normally composed Ferguson to handle. “Yesterday is a day I will never forget,” he told supporters amid a backdrop of chants of “We love you Fergie, we do!”

“It was wonderful. Thank you. It was something all my family enjoyed and the grandkids will never forget it,” he added before the bus set off for its journey to Manchester Town Hall. “This is fantastic, I’m more pleased for you than anything else. To go through a 38-week programme of Premier division (football) and win it in style with a great bunch of players was great. It is a young squad with a lot of good young players and they will get better. The big test will be to win it three times in a row.”

Jibe at Liverpool
Ferguson could not resist one last jibe at bitter rivals Liverpool, the club that dominated English football when he arrived at Old Trafford in 1986 but whose previous record of 18 English titles United have surpassed under Ferguson's astute guidance.

Robin van Persie
Picture perfect: Manchester United’s Dutch striker Robin van Persie zooms in as he boards the champions’ bus outside Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester yesterday. PICS/AFP

He urged fans to turn up for Tuesday’s Under-21 encounter with fellow north-west side Liverpool at Old Trafford. “We play that mob across the road,” he said. “I hope some of you cheer the young lads on.”

Dressed in the club’s red, black and white colours, supporters were out in force in the northwestern city to cheer on the open-top bus tour jointly marking United’s 20th title triumph and 71-year-old Ferguson’s extraordinary 26-year career transforming the club into a powerhouse of world football. Some fans had been waiting outside for eight hours to see Ferguson with the Premier League trophy one last time.

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