Remembering Sir Alex Ferguson’s crazy final game as Man Utd manager
Sir Alex Ferguson was the absolute master of making sure he had control over almost any situation during his time as Manchester United manager.
The iconic ‘Fergie time’ is the most obvious example of this, but there was also his tactical acumen, man-management skills and just an overall ability to get the best out of his players.
Having taken over as United boss all the way back in 1986, Ferguson took charge of his final ever game as a manager 26 years later in 2013, with his Red Devils side travelling to the Hawthorns.
United already had the Premier League title tied up, but the Scotsman will have wanted to finish in style, displaying the brilliance of the side he had built one last time.
However, his 1,500th and final game in charge of United was probably the one he had the least control over, as it turned into an absolute goal-fest.
After Ferguson had his guard of honour, things had actually looked like they were going to plan, as Shinji Kagawa put United ahead just six minutes in.
When Jonas Olsson turned Antonio Valencia’s driven cross into his own net just three minutes later, there was a feeling of security that was only accentuated by Alexander Buttner’s strike on the half-hour mark to make it 3-0.
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Nine times out of 10, it would be unfathomable that the Red Devils would give up a lead like this – during the 2008-09 season they had put nine past the Baggies in their two matches with no reply.
There didn’t even seem to be much hope for West Brom when James Morrison scored in the 40th minute, with the fans’ cheers being pretty subdued.
However, Romelu Lukaku came off the bench at half time, and we’d love to think that all Steve Clarke said to the Belgian before bringing him on was “score goals” because that is exactly what he did.
The striker got his first just five minutes after coming on, somehow managing to pass the ball past Anders Lindegaard from outside the box.
It’s alright though, surely this young striker wouldn’t taint the mighty Ferguson’s day. A bit more normality was brought to the proceedings when Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez got on the scoresheet, putting United 5-2 up.
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Lukaku was back again in the 81st minute though, acting like the child that wants all the attention during somebody else’s birthday party.
Despite the lack of time on the clock, the Hawthorns’ celebrations weren’t subdued this time, and there seemed to be genuine hope that West Brom could get back into the game.
There was good reason for that, as Youssouf Mulumbu and Billy Jones played a one-two in the United box before the former finished off the chance, bringing the sides within one goal of each other just a minute after Lukaku’s finish.
It was the 86th minute when Lukaku managed to bring the game level. It wasn’t the prettiest of goals, but there is nobody linked with West Brom who would have cared about that.
Graham Dorrans had hit a brilliant cross-field pass to set up Mulumbu for an emphatic volley, but the midfielder completely messed it up.
He and West Brom were in luck though, as the ball bounced towards Lukaku, who managed to get in ahead of Rio Ferdinand and bundle the ball into the back of the net for his hat-trick.
🗓 ON THIS DAY:
In 2013, Sir Alex Ferguson managed his 1,500th & final game in charge of Manchester United..
A Romelu Lukaku hat-trick denied him a win on the day as his side were held to a 5-5 draw with West Brom!
— Oddschanger (@Oddschanger) May 19, 2020
Lukaku and the majority of the Hawthorns went mad but Ferguson looked on with confusion and frustration written all over his face. There won’t have been too many times in the Scotsman’s career where his team let a three-goal lead slip in less than 10 minutes.
While Ferguson will have been disappointed not to win his final game as manager, it proved to be a fitting – and entertaining – farewell.
By Danny Lewis