Football: Fergie prepares to say emotional farewell

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom (AFP) - Alex Ferguson will bid an emotional farewell to Old Trafford on Sunday as he takes charge of Manchester United for the final time on home turf after 26 years of unparallelled success in the English game.

United manager Ferguson announced on Wednesday that he will retire at the end of the season after leading the club to 13 Premier League titles, two Champions League crowns, five FA Cups, four League Cups and a host of other trophies during his incredible reign.

Swansea are the opponents for Ferguson's farewell, which fittingly will include the official presentation of the Premier League trophy to United - almost three weeks after they secured what has turned out to be the Scot's final piece of silverware in a remarkable career.

With the game having little significance for either team, United's supporters will use the occasion to pay tribute to Ferguson, who transformed their club from underachievers who had gone 26 years without winning a league title to a team that has dominated English football and returned to the top in Europe.

Ferguson is expected to take to the microphone following the game to say his goodbyes and there will be barely a dry eye among the packed house at Old Trafford, a stadium which has grown in size considerably during the Scot's tenure and has a stand named after him and a statue outside.

United's final game under Ferguson's rule will be against West Bromwich Albion the following week at the Hawthorns before Everton boss David Moyes, who signed a six-year deal on Thursday to replace Ferguson, takes charge on July 1.

And United captain Nemanja Vidic is relishing the chance to work with another ferociously competitive Scottish boss after thriving under Ferguson's driven management style.

"I think he (Moyes) did a great job with Everton," said Vidic.

"He is the man who gets his players to work hard and show discipline and I think he did that well with Everton. And in the last few years they've been successful in getting into the top six.

"I think David and Sir Alex share some similarities - they are very passionate, they are both winners and you can see the way they approach the games and how they run things.

"I'm looking forward to working with David and I believe I will have the same success I had with Sir Alex."

United midfielder Michael Carrick is also eagerly anticipating the Moyes era but does not want standards slipping at Old Trafford just because Ferguson is departing.

"I think Moyes is honest and he's fair to his players as far as I'm aware and I'm sure that's the case," he said.

"He'll set high standards just as we expect high standards of ourselves and I'm looking forward to working with him."

Paul Scholes could return for Ferguson's farewell to Old Trafford after making an appearance on the bench last week while Danny Welbeck is back in contention after missing the Chelsea defeat.

Swansea boss Michael Laudrup admits he will be honoured to be the man in the opposite dugout for Ferguson's final game at Old Trafford.

"Unfortunately legend is a word that is used far too often in the media today, but here we are really talking about a legend of football and I am proud to be Ferguson's opponent in his last home game as manager at Old Trafford," he said.

Former Barcelona and Real Madrid star Laudrup doesn't believe any manager will be able to emulate Ferguson's sustained run of success and he said: "You always know that one day we all have to stop, but it seemed Sir Alex would go on and on.

"There were rumours a few years ago but this came out of the blue and caught us all by surprise, but it was going to happen and leaving after winning the title once more is the best way to go.

"What is unique with him is the time he has been at Manchester United. 27 years - even 10 years in other countries would be impossible."

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