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It’s the end. Thanks for everything Fergie

1012370-16388563-640-360Only 11 days have passed since Sir Alex Ferguson announced his decision to leave Manchester United at the end of the season.

The events that have unfolded since, though, have generated the impression that the announcement was given a lifetime ago.

We’ve had the confirmation that David Moyes will replace Fergie, we’ve had him and Paul Scholes’ final salute to Old Trafford and a triumphant parade to top it all off and, albeit temporarily, delay the thought of Manchester United without Fergie for as far as we could afford.

Time could no longer be stretched, farewell could no longer be procrastinated, though, and just after 6pm today Sir Alex Ferguson officially became “Manchester United former manager”.

Inches of columns have been filled over the last ten days, about the man and his achievements and about the club and its future – one that might not include Wayne Rooney, who was again left of the squad – and some worried about today being some of anti-climax after last week’s triumphant send-off.

It wasn’t. It was never going to be considering the amount of ticketless United fans that had traveled to The Hawthorns to express their gratitude for the greatest manager of all time and who, in twenty or thirty years time, will tell their kids where they were on May 19th 2013.

Sir Alex was awarded a guard honour by West Brom and his players were treated to a similar respectful welcome party by the home team as they dominated the opening exchanges.

Within 10 minutes United were two goals in front, courtesy of a Shinji Kagawa header and a Jonas Olsson own goal.

With half an hour gone, Hernandez and Cleverley combined superbly to offer Buttner the opportunity to score his second league goal of the season.

The Dutchman duly obliged, burying the ball into the right corner to give United a seemingly unassailable lead.

Five minutes later Buttner turned villain, losing possession in his own half and allowing Graham Dorrans to set up James Morrison’s goal.

Fergie’s last 45 minutes as Manchester United manager were as bonkers as anything he experienced over the last 26 and a half years.

First, Lukaku’s shot found his way past Lindegaard only five minutes after the restart, before Van Persie and Hernandez restored United’s three-goal lead after converting assists from Antonio Valencia and Ryan Giggs respectively.

Paul Scholes came on for his final appearance but United crumbled, conceding three goals in less than 10 minutes as Romelu Lukaku and Youssuf Mulumbu reduced the deficit, before Mulumbu made it 5-5 as he made the most of Anders Lindegaard’s mistake.

True to the philosophy that has permeated the club over the last 26 and half years, United made it hard for themselves even in Fergie’s last ever game.

The result, which would have normally been greeted by the hairdryer treatment, was of little importance today, though, as the away fans treated Sir Alex to a raucous ovation after the final whistle

For the first time since Ferguson descended to Old Trafford from Aberdeen 26 and a half years ago, the pages of United’s book are blank.

Many a great chapter were written over the last 1500 games but, just like every other story, even this came to its inevitable end and, like only great stories do, will forever remain itched in the readers’ minds.

Thanks for everything, Sir Alex.

PS: It’s been a pleasure to write every match report for the last two seasons. Last year’s heartache was terrible to take, glad we have something to celebrate this season.

Dan (@MUFC_dan87)

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