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Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson walks towards the fans to accept their applause after their English Premier League soccer match against West Bromwich Albion.

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson walks towards the fans to accept their applause after their English Premier League soccer match against West Bromwich Albion.

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson walks towards the fans to accept their applause after their English Premier League soccer match against West Bromwich Albion.

ALEX FERGUSON ended his magnificent managerial career just the way he would have wanted – with a nice glass of red wine.

The Manchester United manager declared himself satisfied with the 2003 Chateau Pontet-Canet, bought especially for the occasion, with Steve Clarke delighted it did Ferguson justice.

"He knew what it was," said Clarke proudly. "He said it was a good year."

The post-match drink followed a staggering game, as United cruised into a 3-0 lead and then 5-2, before being pegged back by a dogged West Brom side, who salvaged a 5-5 draw.

It was the first time a United team had drawn by such a score since Newton Heath were held by Lincoln in 1895. It was also the highest-scoring draw in Premier League history.

"I am not sure Alex enjoyed it that much," said Clarke.

"There is no point analysing the game. We had a great Plan A, which went out of the window after 10 minutes.

 

OCCASION

"It was a great occasion. That game will be remembered for a long time.

"He was quite complimentary about our season and I wish him all the best."

Ferguson opted not to speak with the media afterwards.

His thoughts would have been fascinating, though, for at any other point in his career, the hairdryer would surely have been turned up full volume given how the match unfolded, even though it wasn't, as he told Clarke, the first time under his charge United had thrown away a three-goal lead.

Shinji Kagawa and a Jonas Olsson own-goal had United cruising after just 10 minutes and when Alexander Buttner drove home a third midway through the first half, it seemed Ferguson would enjoy a victory cruise on his final day.

Even after James Morrison and Romelu Lukaku cut the gap either side of the interval, United quickly restored their three-goal cushion through Golden Boot winner Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez.

Yet it proved to be the prelude for the most astonishing of comebacks as Lukaku and Youssuf Mulumbu netted amid chaotic scenes which delighted the home crowd.

Olsson blazed over from three yards before Lukaku completed his hat-trick, with both sides failing to take chances to win the game late on.

"I was waiting for some Fergie time at the end," joked van Persie.

"It didn't happen, but to score 10 goals was good fun for everyone, so I think the fans are pleased."

Both sides formed a guard of honour for Ferguson before the game, with the West Brom supporters joining their United counterparts to applaud the Scot after the final whistle.

"After 26 and a half years at United and, before that, at Aberdeen, Alex deserved it," said van Persie.

"He's unbelievable and what the West Brom fans did was a nice touch.

"It's right to show respect. It doesn't always happen in football, but today it did and I'm glad."

Now though, United are preparing for the arrival of David Moyes, although van Persie does not expect any problems.

"Everybody wants to work for each other and share the success and I'm 100 per cent sure that we will play for trophies every year and, hopefully, win a few every year.

"That's our standard for this team," he said.

"Of course, we get a new manager next year and everybody is looking forward to that.

"It's a new challenge for everyone.

"We'll have a nice break now and then we will go again."

And van Persie will be attempting to follow Thierry Henry and Alan Shearer as a Golden Boot winner in three consecutive seasons.

"The Premier League means everything and the Golden Boot is like a little bit extra, but they should make 25 of them because we do it together," he said.

"Today it was a great cross by Antonio Valencia and an easy goal.

"We did this together and I'm so happy with how everything went.

"This is a great team and, hopefully, we can go for even more trophies.

"I'm sure we can."


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