United sends Fergie out with thriller

Sir Alex Ferguson was given a barnstorming end to his glittering managerial career as Manchester United concede three goals in the last 10 minutes to draw 5-5 with West Brom.

The 71-year-old Scot was given a guard of honor before the game and a standing ovation after it, but between the two was a see-saw, crazy match nobody had predicted before kick-off.

An early Shinji Kagawa header and Jonas Olsson own goal gave the visitors a firm grasp on the game that was strengthened soon after when Alexander Buttner got in on the goalscoring action with a solid drive.

James Morrison’s close-range finish and an 18-yard shot from half-time substitute Romelu Lukaku, that eluded Anders Lindegaard, brought West Brom right back into the game.

Tap-ins from Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez looked to have secured United a handsome win but the Baggies refused to give up and after Lukaku had slotted home and Youssouf Mulumbu steered in a cross, the on-loan forward bundled in his hat-trick goal to send the Hawthorns wild.

The game was not quite a neat encapsulation of the preceding 26 years of Ferguson’s career at United, which have seen the Scot claim 38 trophies and far more deserved plaudits.

There was not as much at stake for him personally as the FA Cup third-round tie against Nottingham Forest in 1990, or for the team as the final day decider against Tottenham in 1999, nor was there the drama of the European showdown with Bayern Munich at the Nou Camp or anything that consistently reached the brilliance of their demolition of Roma in 2007.

It remained a stellar attacking performance from a United side featuring six changes and a star-studded bench containing the likes of Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, but no Wayne Rooney, who was absent because his wife had gone into labor.

But they also demonstrated an uncharacteristic weakness at the back that prompted Ferguson to endure a far more stressful final 10 minutes of his managerial career than he had hoped.