You've topped Treble party, Ferguson tells Utd fans
Alex Ferguson thanked tens of thousands of Manchester United fans as they massed to salute him and his final title-winning side on an open-top bus parade through the city streets.
- Published: 14/05/2013 at 12:49 AM
- Newspaper section: news
Alex Ferguson addresses the crowds from the champions' bus outside Old Trafford in Manchester on May 13, 2013. He thanked 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.
United manager Ferguson, one of world football's most successful bosses, is retiring at the age of 71 after guiding the Red Devils to the English Premier League title for a 13th time.
After arriving at Manchester Town Hall following the victory parade from United's Old Trafford ground, Ferguson was seen singing fans' favourite "Glory, Glory Man United" from the balcony on Monday.
And he briefly took to a temporary stage below in the city's Albert Square, which was packed with thousands of flag-waving supporters bedecked in the club's red, white and black colours.
In what was likely his final public address to his adoring faithful, the Scot said the jubilant scenes surpassed even those of 1999, when the northwest side completed an unprecedented trophy treble of the Premier League, FA Cup and European Champions League.
"I thought 1999 would never be beaten but you have beaten it," Ferguson said.
Red streamers hung in the trees, coloured flares went off and people clambered all over monuments for a glimpse of the United players bouncing around on stage with the Premier League trophy.
But Monday's celebrations were all about Ferguson, now just one game away -- at West Bromwich on Sunday -- from completing an astonishing career that has yielded 38 trophies for United in the more than 26 years since he joined from Scottish side Aberdeen.
On Sunday, more than 75,000 supporters inside Old Trafford gave him a rousing send-off after United marked his last home game in charge with a 2-1 league win over Swansea City.
"Yesterday is a day I will never forget," a beaming Ferguson told supporters outside Old Trafford before the bus, emblazoned with "champions" and the manager's face, set off to 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.
"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."
Amid the party atmosphere, there were jeers for England striker Wayne Rooney, who has submitted a transfer request.
Mothers brought their babies in prams so they could tell them one day they were there, while fathers put their children on their shoulders to see their heroes as one by one they were announced.
Netherlands forward Robin van Persie took pictures of the crowd before defender Rio Ferdinand took over the microphone and conducted the singsong, the players getting the bus rocking as they jumped up and down, waving scarves.
Some supporters waved blow-up Premier League trophies, while one man even carried a dog in a United bodywarmer.
Along the city's Deansgate, the deafening fans lined the parade route 15 deep back to the shop fronts, waving flags, brandishing Ferguson masks, chanting and blowing horns in the chilly evening sunshine.
People clung to every vantage point, clambering up scaffolding, leaning out of office windows and scrambling up lamp-posts and road signs to soak in the scene.
Ray Hurst, a fan for 48 years, said he was "welling up" at seeing Ferguson wave goodbye.
"He's made our dreams come true and in great style, with fantastic football," the 67-year-old from Bolton, near Manchester, told AFP.
"He inherited a pretty poor squad and it took him a few years to clear it out. He built it up bit by bit.
"I want to say to him: thanks for the memories.
"It's going to be a transition now. We need to back the new manager David Moyes and give him time -- just as we did with Fergie."
Alexine Blackburn, a carer from the Wythenshawe district, was also struggling to hold back the tears.
"It broke my heart when he announced his retirement. He made me cry and I've been crying all week," she said.
Tony Chaloryoo, from central Thailand but now living in Sheffield, northern England, got to Old Trafford eight hours before the parade began.
"Alex Ferguson is one of the best football managers in history, one of the most brilliant," he told AFP.
"With Sir Alex retiring, nothing will be the same because he is the saviour of Manchester United."
About the author
- Writer: AFP
- Position: News agency