MANCHESTER, England —
After the fulltime whistle, he slowly made his way to the center circle as his players and coaching staff left the stage to the man everyone had come to see.
“I have absolutely no script in my mind. I am just going to ramble on and hope I get to the core of what this football club has meant to me,” Ferguson said.
He paused throughout his speech as fans sang his name. Assistant coach Mike Phelan wiped tears from his eyes.
“If you think about it, those last-minute goals, the comebacks, even the defeats, are all part of this great football club of ours,” Ferguson said. “It’s been an unbelievable experience for all of us. So thank you for that.”
And also, I’d 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. Your job now is to stand by our new manager.”
That man, David Moyes, was about 30 miles away taking charge of his last home game as Everton manager before taking over at United on July 1. He has a near impossible task, replacing the irreplaceable.
Ferguson left the pitch to more applause and chants, only to return minutes later for the trophy celebration. The Premier League trophy, bedecked in black, white and red ribbons, was handed to Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic, who immediately turned to Ferguson and placed it in his hands.
For one final time, Ferguson lifted it high.
The perfect afternoon. A perfect 27 years.