Sir Alex Ferguson’s emotional Man Utd farewell speech in full and 5 unintended prophecies

ON THIS DAY in 2013, Sir Alex Ferguson said goodbye to the Old Trafford faithful in an emotional on-pitch speech after his final home game, and what he said still rings true today

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  • 08:43, 12 May 2022
  • Updated09:29, 12 May 2022
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The rain flowed almost as freely as the tears.

.

As Sir Alex Ferguson addressed a packed Old Trafford on May 12, 2013 it marked the end of one of the greatest collaborations in English football history – the one between the legendary Scot and the crowd who adored him.

As Ferguson would make clear, his association with Manchester United would go on, but this was the end of a 27-year managerial dynasty which brought guaranteed success.

For many United supporters it was a step into the unknown, and it has since proven to be a frequently rocky one.

Ferguson addressed the crowd on his Old Trafford goodbye
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United have often toiled in the near decade since Ferguson left, and the Scot made what would prove to be some pretty prophetic statements as he addressed the crowd.

Here's what he said in full:

*****

"I've got absolutely no script in my mind, I'm just going to ramble on and hope I get to the core of what this football club has meant to me.

"First of all, it's a thank you to Manchester United. Not just the directors, not just the medical staff, not just the coaching staff, the players or the supporters, it's all of you.

"You have been the most fantastic experience of my life. Thank you.

"I have been very fortunate to manage some of the greatest players in the country, let alone Manchester United.

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"All these players here today have represented your club the proper way, they've won the championship in a fantastic fashion. Well done to the players.

"My retirement doesn't mean the end of my relationship with the club, I'm able to now enjoy watching them rather than suffering with them.

"If you think about it, those last-minute goals, the comebacks, even the defeats, are all part of this great football club of ours. It's been an unbelievable experience for all of us, so thank you for that.

"I'd also like to remind you that when we had bad times here, the club stood by me, all my staff stood by me, the players stood by me, and your job now is to stand by our new manager.

"Before I start blubbering, I just want to pay tribute to Paul Scholes, who retires today.

Ferguson got his hands on the Premier League trophy on his Old Trafford farewell
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"He's unbelievable, one of the greatest players this club has ever had and will ever have. Paul, we wish you a good retirement and I know you'll be around to annoy me!

"Also I'd just like you to join me in wishing Darren Fletcher a speedy comeback to our club.

"The players… I wish the players every success in the future.

"You know how good you are, you know the jersey you're wearing, you know what it means to everyone here, and don't ever let yourself down. The expectation is always there.

"So, I'm going home… well, I'm going inside for a while, and I want to say thank you again from all the Ferguson family. They're all up there [points to stands], eleven grandchildren!

"Thank you."

*****

Emotional stuff, and much of what Ferguson said would end up resonating across United's next few years, with this five elements in particular sticking out.

"My retirement doesn't mean the end of my relationship with the club, I'm able to now enjoy watching them rather than suffering with them."

Ferguson is still of course regularly seen at Old Trafford, attending United matches from the moment David Moyes became his immediate successor through to Ralf Rangnick's short era today.

Ferguson is still a regular Old Trafford visitor
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Image:
Pool via REUTERS)

There has often been a debate about whether or not that has been a good thing for the club, although in recent years it won't have been that pleasurable an experience for Ferguson either.

When cameras caught him during October's 5-0 hammering at home to Liverpool he certainly didn't look to be enjoying himself.

"I'd also like to remind you that when we had bad times here, the club stood by me, all my staff stood by me, the players stood by me, and your job now is to stand by our new manager."

Probably the most famous moment of the speech saw Ferguson urge the United crowd to support Moyes, who was to last less than a year in the job.

At other times United supporters cannot be accused to failing to support their manager though, with a feeling of goodwill existing for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer despite poor results.

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"Before I start blubbering, I just want to pay tribute to Paul Scholes, who retires today.

"He's unbelievable, one of the greatest players this club has ever had and will ever have. Paul, we wish you a good retirement and I know you'll be around to annoy me!"

Ferguson's touching tribute to Scholes was well received by the fans, and the assertion that he'd "around to annoy him" has probably come true.

The Class of of 92 graduate has frequently been one of United's fiercest critics as a pundit on BT Sport, often laying into anything and everything that is wrong with the club.

"Also I'd just like you to join me in wishing Darren Fletcher a speedy comeback to our club."

Fletcher had been struggling with a debilitating ulcerative colitis illness at the time, but the United favourite would return to the club and play for two more seasons before spells at West Brom and Stoke.

Now he's back again, and in his role as technical director he has had a big say in the appointment Erik ten Hag as the new United boss.

"You know how good you are, you know the jersey you're wearing, you know what it means to everyone here, and don't ever let yourself down. The expectation is always there."

Standards at United have certainly slipped in the years Ferguson have been away, and they have now reached surely the worst in the club's Premier League history.

You have to doubt whether or not United's players are away of "the jersey they're wearing" any more, with Ferguson's words not quite aligning with their disappointing season.

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