Premier League

Rio crowns Fergie farewell

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Sun, 12 May 2013 18:22:00

Martin Jol had no complaints with Fulham's performance despite going down to a 3-1 defeat to Liverpool.

Daniel Sturridge's superb hat-trick inspired Liverpool to all three points as they came from behind to cancel out Dimitar Berbatov's opener.

It was Fulham's fourth successive defeat at Craven Cottage and means they are still not mathematically safe from relegation.

Despite the defeat Jol was happy with the effort his side put in against Liverpool, feeling their opponents took advantage of their vulnerability.

"We were very happy to be on 40 points but we haven't been able to get a result since to be on 46 or 47," said Jol.

"If you look at the effort we've put in against Chelsea, Arsenal and even today, there's nothing wrong with the effort or application or mentality, but when we've needed to change the game to score, we've looked a bit vulnerable."

Jol conceded Fulham need to bolster their squad next season if they are to avoid struggling at the wrong end of the table, feeling they do not have enough goals in the current side.

"We need four, five or six players but that's normal at any club," added Jol. "We need to strengthen.

"Our home form was always good last year. Last year we could score out of nothing; we had Clint Dempsey to score winners. With Dimitar Berbatov, we gained somebody who could score goals but we lost things in other areas.

"Last season, we made a big step. We played fantastic football, especially after Christmas. But we had to start again. So we have to count our blessings that we had 40 points at the start of April."

Ferguson bows out next Sunday after securing a 2-1 win over Swansea in his final home game as manager.

After the victory, he addressed the crowd and told them to get behind his replacement.

"I would like to remind you this club stood by me in bad times, the players and the staff," he said.

"Your job now is to stand by the new manager."

Ferguson paid personal tribute to Paul Scholes, who started today's game and will also retire in the summer, and Darren Fletcher, who continues his recovery from a chronic bowel condition.

And he insisted he would still be a regular presence at Old Trafford.

"I will be able to go along and watch them rather than suffer with them," he said.

"Those last minute goals, the comebacks and even the defeats are part of this great football club. It has been an unbelievable experience."

Ferguson's speech in full:

"I've got no script in my mind, I'm just going to ramble on and hope I get to the core of what this club is meant to be.

"First of all, it's a thank you to Manchester United; not just the directors, not just the medical staff, the coaching staff, the players, the supporters, it's all of you. You have been the most fantastic experience of my life. Thank you.

"I have been very fortunate. I have been able to manage some of the greatest players in the country, let alone Manchester United.

"All these players here today have represented our club in the proper way - they have won a championship in a fantastic fashion. Well done to the players.

"My retirement doesn't mean the end of my life with the club. I will now be able to enjoy watching them rather than suffer with them.

"If you think about it, those last minute goals, the comebacks - even the defeats are all part of this great football club of ours. It has been an unbelievable experience for all of us, so thank you for that.

"I'd also like to remind you that when we had bad times here the club stood by me, all my staff stood by me, the players stood by me - your job now is to stand by our new manger. That is important.

"I'd just, before I start bubbling, I just want to pay tribute to Paul Scholes who retires today. Unbelievable, one of greatest players this club has ever had or ever will have. Paul, we wish you a good retirement. I know you will be around to annoy me. Also, I would like to say a little word wishing Darren Fletcher a speedy comeback to our club.

"The players, I wish the players every success in the future. You know how good you are, you know the jersey you are wearing, you know what it means to everyone here ,

"Don't let yourselves down. The expectation is always there.

"I'm going home, I'm going inside for a while. I just want to say thank you from all the Ferguson family, they are all up there - 11 grandchildren.

"Thank you, thank you."

Twenty years ago another central defender, Gary Pallister, scored his first of the season in the same goal in the penultimate match of Ferguson's first title-winning season.

Now Ferdinand has done the same in Ferguson's 13th and last championship of a staggering career that will end for good at West Brom next Sunday.

Indeed, it was the first time Ferdinand had found the net since 2008, although on such a grand occasion as this, it was fitting United should get a late - if not quite 'Fergie Time' - winner from someone who has worked with the Scot since his arrival from Leeds in 2002.

In addition he was United's 20th different scorer in this 20th championship season.

It was the perfect way for Ferguson to leave the stage he has occupied for so long, having already delivered one pretty bold statement.

Whilst you could tell what was unfolding in front of him did not matter quite so much given he merely opened his arms in questioning disbelief at Shinji Kagawa's failure to secure a penalty when he was flattened in the box, Ferguson had already made his mark.

One of the hallmarks of his entire reign has been the Scot's refusal to back away from the big decisions.

Today, in his final team selection at the ground where he has presided over an incredible 405 Premier League fixtures, Ferguson's did not change the habit of a lifetime and opt for the easy route.

So Wayne Rooney, whose relationship with his manager has been uneasy at best over the past few weeks and who had a transfer request rejected a fortnight ago, was dumped, left to watch from one of the corporate boxes as the rest of his team-mates got to experience at first hand the sizzling atmosphere that had been created.

David Moyes is not due to start work until July 1. It is impossible to imagine his input will not be required sooner though, if only to prevent Rooney's name hanging over the club throughout the summer.

Yet, as so often, Ferguson was proved correct.

It was Rooney's replacement Javier Hernandez who chipped an early effort against the bar that had been supplied by Robin van Persie.

And it was Hernandez who drove home his 17th goal of the season to put the hosts ahead after Ashley Williams had made a hash of trying to clear Van Persie's free-kick.

The goal brought a trademark fist-pump celebration from Ferguson in the dug-out, keen to ensure such a landmark day would end with the correct result.

It was all slightly unfortunate for Swansea, the obligatory guests at a party no-one wanted to speak to them at, other than to lambast them if they threatened to get in the way.

And that was exactly what they did five minutes into the second half, when United found themselves under pressure, failed to clear a corner and allowed Nathan Dyer to drill over a low cross from the right.

It hardly needed saying Michu would be the danger-man in such situations. United did not pick him up, though, and he duly turned home his 21st goal of an incredible debut campaign.

It punctured the atmosphere somewhat and Swansea gave every impression of wanting to spoil some more.

Pablo Hernandez brought an excellent save out of David de Gea, Wayne Routledge almost got the better of Ferdinand to force his way through and Dyer was a menace to United's defence.

They held firm though, and Anderson almost put the hosts back in front when he drilled a low shot wide 20 minutes from time.

The Brazilian had replaced Scholes not long before, quite possibly marking the end of the 38-year-old's entire career.

In truth, it was not one of Scholes' most effective displays, although there were a few sublime passes and a typically thunderous first-half challenge on Routledge.

But the standing ovation he received was for a career that will see him rightly go down as the finest player of his generation.

All it needed at the end was a winner. Ferdinand supplied it, allowing Ferguson to leave Old Trafford in the most appropriate manner possible.

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