West Brom V Man Utd at The Hawthorns : Match Preview
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Clarke: Patience paid off at United
West Brom head coach Steve Clarke hosts Sir Alex Ferguson's farewell at the Hawthorns on Sunday admitting the Manchester United manager would never be given the same time to prove himself in the modern game as he enjoyed in his early Old Trafford career.
Ferguson endured three difficult seasons with the Red Devils after taking over in 1986 but the club kept faith in him and have been rewarded spectacularly in the years since.
He finally bows out for good this weekend having won 13 Premier League titles, two Champions League trophies, five FA Cups and four League Cups for United, along with numerous other pieces of silverware.
Clarke is one of many in the game happy to laud Ferguson's achievements - but knows the patience United showed in him is unlikely to be seen again.
He said: "Would he get three years now like he did at United? No. I don't think so in this day and age. It just shows you, eh? Patience is a virtue.
"Nearly 27 years is a great shift. Listen, he did the hard work in Scotland.
"He started with St Mirren, my club, with a great tradition to build on. So by the time I got there Sir Alex had left but the players he brought into that club carried the club to European competitions for a number of years after that so he gave a good basis there.
"St Mirren did sack him. They were probably forced to sack him - I would imagine Sir Alex in those days was a bit fiery and ready to fight the chairman. I can't remember if the St Mirren chairman said he wasn't manager material, I was a young lad in those days.
"To be a manager or a head coach you have to be resilient; you have to know there will be bad times to go with the good times. The good ones have more good times than bad times."
Clarke added: "He went to Aberdeen and broke the Old Firm monopoly. He came down to England for another challenge and struggled for three years, but he got the time to build because in those days you got the time to build.
"Over the years he's built a dynasty, one of the biggest clubs in the world and they just went from strength to strength, every year they were always challenging for honours so he did a fantastic job."
Clarke's only injury concern is over right-back Steven Reid as the Baggies look to finish their best Premier League season on a high following a recent dip in form.
Ferguson has confirmed Anders Lindegaard will start his final game as Manchester United manager - and Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand will be on the bench.
Ferguson promised Lindegaard he would make sure he reached the 10 Barclays Premier League appearances which at the time the Scot thought were required to qualify for a title winners' medal.
The manager has since learned that he would have been able to give Lindegaard a medal anyway, but nevertheless he intends to stand by his pledge to get the Dane into double figures at West Brom on Sunday.
Robin van Persie is delighted Manchester United got to complete the championship puzzle in Ferguson's last season as a manager.
Looking back, Van Persie's arrival at Old Trafford last summer was one of the most significant signs Ferguson was thinking of calling time on the most successful career British football has ever known.
After all, for four years he had been preaching the gospel of "value in the market", then all of a sudden he persuaded the Glazer family to spend #24million on a 29-year-old who only had a year left on his contract with Arsenal. Given what had gone before, it was bordering on reckless.
But Ferguson knew the quality he was getting, just as he soon discovered the fierce team ethic that drives the Dutchman, who, barring Gareth Bale smashing the Premier League record for most goals in a game, will be crowned Golden Boot winner for the second season running.
And, despite all the glory that has been heaped on Van Persie's shoulders over the past nine months, his instinct remains to spread the load.
"This team is unbelievable," Van Persie told MUTV.
"Every team of champions starts with a good atmosphere and the idea that every single person wants to share success and everybody wants to play their part in it.
"That is how you achieve big things and win trophies. It is like a puzzle that needs to add up so that in the end, the final puzzle means trophies."
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