Sir Alex Ferguson ended a magnificent career as Manchester United boss with a 5-5 draw at West Bromwich Albion in his 1,500th match as Red Devils boss.
Last week the 71 year old Scot ended a 26 year reign at Old Trafford with the announcement of his retirement from management and will join the board upstairs and act as an ambassador to the club. During his time he has won the Premier League on thirteen occasions, UEFA Champions League twice, Cup Winners Cup once, FA Cup five times, League Cup four times, Inter-Continental Cup and UEFA Super Cup once as well as being winner of the FA Community (Charity) Shield ten times. It is truly some record for a manger who was just 90 minutes from being sacked in the late 1980’s – it just goes to show what can be achieved if you hold onto your manager.
The West Brom players took to the field first, ignoring the tradition of entering the field of play together in order to create a human tunnel in order to congratulate both Manchester United in a guard of honour on their Premier League triumph and to sound off an extinguishing career at Old Trafford for Sir Alex. Little would have guessed that his last game in charge would be so thrilling, but doubtful that he gave his players the infamous hair dryer treatment after they surrender a three goal lead to eventually find themselves 5-2 in front and eventually draw the match in stunning style with Baggies striker Romelu Lukaku scoring a second half hat-trick and setting a Premier League record for the highest drawn match.
United had set the game going at blistering pace and showed the full-capacity Hawthorns why there where Championship; Shinji Kagawa headed home inside 6 minutes to hand the visitors the lead and three minutes later the score was doubled when Swedish defender Jonas Olsson put through his own net. The score was strengthened on the half-hour mark when left full-back Alexander Buttner scored; driving home past former United keeper Ben Foster on what was only his fifth senior appearance for the Manchester club.
From here on the game looked out of reach for the hosts until James Morrison’s near finish with five minutes of the first half remaining. Manchester United went into the break with a three goals to one lead and little or no one would have expected any form of comeback from the Baggies faithful and would surely expect United to march on and score more goals.
But five minutes into the second 45 they were handed a lifeline – half-time substitute Romelu Lukaku fired an unstoppable 18 yard effort that eluded Andres Lindegaard in the United goal and put the Midlands club right back in the game.
There celebrations were however short lived as the visitors lived up to expectations and looked to have once again killed the game when Robin Van Persie (53) slotted home his 30th goal of the season and Javier Hernandez ten minutes later extended the lead to three goals – tapping home virtually on the line following Giggs’ centre.
West Brom refused to give up the ghost and Lukaku set the Hawthorns alight when he netted a further two goals to complete his hat-trick and Youssouf Mulumbu, on loan from Chelsea netted in the space of five minutes to send the home crowd crazy. Within the space of a minute the Baggies had bagged two goals to add weight to what was already an enthralling game of football in Sir Alex’s last stand. Lukaku (81) charged forward and from close range tucked the ball home before Mulumbu finished following a fine piece of build-up play.
With four minutes remaining the hosts got there leveller and the crowd went wild with celebration when Lukaku scored his treble of the game with a goal mouth scramble after a cross into the box wasn’t neatly volleyed at the far post and the striker nipped in and hooked the ball home. The comeback was complete and the game ended all square.
The reins at Old Trafford will now be handed over to David Moyes, who leaves Everton after an eleven year spell at Goodison Park; he will no doubt have his work cut out if he is to beat the achievements set out by Sir Alex during his 26 years spell.