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Fergie bows out in suitable fashion

TEAMtalk guest Simon Stone describes Sir Alex Ferguson's last game as Manchester United manager, admitting: "It's been emotional."

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Sir Alex Ferguson: Oversaw a 5-5 draw in his last game

Sir Alex Ferguson: Oversaw a 5-5 draw in his last game

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If you are going to achieve something as mad as spending nearly 27 years in the biggest job in football, you might as well bow out in equally ridiculous fashion.

The script should have been for Sir Alex Ferguson to bow out a winner, with an injury-time goal of some description.

But this outcome was just as appropriate. Ten goals. The highest-scoring draw in Premier League history. The biggest United have been involved in since 1895. Another big, thick mark in the history books to end with.

And this was it.

We had already had the announcement, the announcement of the succession, the final home game, the final trophy presentation, the final parade, the final awards dinner, the final press conference, the final team selection, the final goal - Javier Hernandez - and the final substitution - Rio Ferdinand for Jonny Evans.

And, at approximately 5.55pm, Michael Oliver blew the final whistle on Ferguson's career.

He looked for Steve Clarke to shake his fellow Scot's hand before heading out onto the pitch to first acknowledge the away fans, before then all four sides of the stadium, which paid an appropriate tribute to a 71-year-old, whose legacy to the game goes way beyond those 49 incredible trophies.

This could never have been a normal day, so why should it have been a normal game?

It started with a guard of honour from West Brom, with United's players quietly joining it to await the entrance of a man whose trophy cabinet will have to be forced shut such is the amount of silverware contained within it.

There were some boos, which was only to be expected given what a magnet for controversy Ferguson has been.

But the overwhelming majority applauded, with Ferguson responding in kind to a stadium packed beyond capacity is seemed, acutely aware they were witnessing a very special day in football history.

It was a special day for Chris Foy too as very rare indeed are the times when a fourth official at a United match arrives to the belief they are not going to be lambasted for one reason or another.

Ferguson even came over for a chat and a handshake, such was the upbeat mood with which he approached this seismic day.

The United fans certainly understood the importance of their visit to the West Midlands.

Programmes were sold half a dozen at a time and there were claims of fans gaining admittance without tickets to say they were there for Ferguson's last game.

Certainly the gates were closed at one point and for a while after kick-off the atmosphere could best be described as powderkeg, with United fans racing out of home sections to reach the visitors end and a few home supporters close by making aeroplane gestures.

It is a measure of Ferguson's longevity that when he came south from Aberdeen, such antics were commonplace, as were the lines of police that quickly appeared to bring a sense of order to the situation.

By then United were two goals ahead, Ferguson was relaxed in his seat and Rene Meulensteen was heading to the touchline to offer instruction.

The Dutchman is part of a United backroom team who, next week, are likely to find out what future, if any, they have under David Moyes.

United's players are certainly saying the right things.

And so were the fans as they continued their songs of triumph.

"So cum on David Moyes, play like Fergies boys, we'll go wild, wild, wild," they chanted, before, "Albert, give us a wave," in reference to popular kit man Albert Morgan.

The mood didn't change that much, even as United suffered their late collapse.

A discernable increase in the rate of Ferguson's chewing increased though as Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand were introduced.

With the scoreboard set at 5-5, Foy signalled four minutes of 'Fergie Time'.

The dream scenario did not happen.

Instead, Ferguson headed off for a glass of wine with Clarke, then down the steps, out of the door and onto the team coach back north.

There was time for just one question.

How did it feel?

"Emotional. Very emotional."

By Simon Stone, PA Sport

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