All the news, views and transfer rumours from Old Trafford this weekend…
So it finally happened. After 723 home games, Sir Alex Ferguson took his place in the Old Trafford dugout for the very last time. And what an occasion it was.
The match itself against Swansea City, and even the trophy presentation that followed, were both secondary to the main event. A farewell to Manchester United’s greatest ever manager, an occasion for the home fans to say thank you in 76,000 different ways.
Despite never hitting the heights of their best performances this season, United won 2-1 with a late goal from Rio Ferdinand, a volley that Robin van Persie would have been proud of.
United had taken the lead late in the first half through a Javier Hernandez strike, before Michu equalised just after half-time for the Swans.
The day was also the last Old Trafford appearance for another United legend – Paul Scholes. The 38-year-old’s forward play in the first half suggested he was desperate to get on the score-sheet one last time, but it wasn’t to be.
On another day, the main talking point would have been the omission of Wayne Rooney, not just from the starting 11 but from the entire match-day squad.
When later quizzed on the reason for Rooney’s absence, Ferguson confirmed that the player had asked for a transfer and needed time to think.
“I don’t think Wayne was keen to play,” Ferguson said, “simply because he’s asked for a transfer.
“I think he wants to think things through in his own mind. I think that’s a good idea. We’re not going to let him go.”
Whether that ultimately happens will be down to incoming manager David Moyes, whose last game at Goodison Park ended in a 2-0 win for Everton.
Two goals from Kevin Mirallas either side of half-time gave the Toffees the win and their manager the perfect send-off.
His next “home match” will be at Old Trafford. And in his farewell speech, Ferguson asked the United fans to support Moyes just as they did their departing manager.
“I would like to remind you this club stood by me in bad times,” the 71-year-old said. “Your job now is to stand by the new manager.”
In a weekend of farewells, there was little time for transfer speculation. But that hasn’t stopped reports that Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema may be on his way to United, possibly as a replacement for Rooney.
The 25-year-old has long been linked with United, and Ferguson initially tried to sign him from Lyon in 2009. But now the decisions rest with Moyes, and it will be interesting to see if he gives Rooney the reassurances he requires, or opts to revamp his forward-line.
image: © marcel sigg