Farewells on center stage as season ends
LONDON - Agence France-Presse
Sir Alex Ferguson waves a flag onboard the champions’ bus in Manchester. AFP photoWith Champions League qualification the only issue still to be decided, focus on the final day of the Premier League season on May 19 will fall on the characters bidding goodbye to English football.
It is certain to be a momentous day at The Hawthorns, where Alex Ferguson will bow out after a record-breaking 26-year spell as Manchester United manager, while veteran midfielder Paul Scholes is also expected to play his final game for the club.
Ferguson heralded the end of an era when he announced his retirement last week and was given a rapturous send-off at Old Trafford last week when United beat Swansea City 2-1 in his final home game.
May 19 trip to West Bromwich Albion will be Ferguson’s 1,500th match as United manager, but the 71-year-old Scot has warned his players not to be distracted by the emotion of the occasion.
Speaking at the club’s end-of-season awards party, he said: “We need to win the game on May 19. We won the last home game and I don’t want to lose my last game, that’s for sure.”
Ferguson’s successor-in-waiting, David Moyes, will also end his 11-year association with Everton at Chelsea.
Moyes said farewell to Goodison Park after last weekend’s 2-0 defeat of West Ham United and he has thanked the club’s fans for their reaction.
“There are very few managers who have the opportunity to be cheered off in your last game as manager,” he told students at Cambridge University during a speech earlier this week.
“I have to thank everybody at Everton and the supporters for that - it showed real class.”
Carra bids farewell
The trip to Stamford Bridge will also mark Everton captain Phil Neville’s last game for the club, while another United old boy, Michael Owen, will hope to feature in Stoke City’s game at Southampton after announcing that he, too, will retire at the end of the season.
Liverpool’s fans, meanwhile, are preparing to say goodbye to long-serving defender Jamie Carragher, who is set to make his 737th and final appearance at home to Queens Park Rangers.
“It’s made me go the other way, to be honest. It’s made me think it is the right time,” he said. “It’s nice that I’m in the side and people are saying I’m doing well and why not stay for another year? It’s better than them saying you should have gone a year ago.”