Sunday 02 June 2013
The last month of the 2012/13 Barclays Premier League season featured the retirement of the most successful manager in British football history, as well as the farewells of a host of vastly experienced players in the English top flight.
Sir Alex Ferguson, after winning 13 Premier League titles in a haul of 38 trophies during his glorious 26-year tenure as Manchester United manager, announced his decision to step down and take up a seat in the directors' box at Old Trafford.
Typically, his last match as manager at Old Trafford was completed with a late winner from centre back Rio Ferdinand, as United beat Swansea City 2-1 and lifted the Barclays Premier League trophy.
They finished off the season with a thrilling 5-5 draw with West Bromwich Albion, who earned their highest points total and final position in the Premier League under head coach Steve Clarke. That was the first such scoreline in Premier League history.
Ferguson will be succeeded by long-serving Everton manager David Moyes, who helped his club to sixth place. The Scotsman said farewell to the Goodison Park faithful with a 2-0 victory over West Ham United that helped them finish above Merseyside rivals Liverpool for the second consecutive season.
Veteran Man Utd midfielder Paul Scholes, who won his 11th league title, played the last match of his career as he and four other top-flight stars called it a day at their respective clubs.
Defender Jamie Carragher, who amassed over 500 appearances in 17 seasons at Liverpool, said farewell with a clean sheet, a victory over Queens Park Rangers and a thumping long range strike that cannoned off a post and out as he was narrowly denied the fourth league goal of a hugely successful career.
Stoke City striker Michael Owen made a substitute appearance during the Potters' 1-1 draw with Southampton on the final day as hung up his boots after deciding to retire earlier this year. Owen scored 150 Premier League goals with Liverpool, Newcastle United, Man Utd and Stoke.
Phil Neville was given a rapturous reception at Goodison Park as he decided to leave the club after eight seasons, while Stiliyan Petrov announced his retirement as he continued his recovery from leukemia. The former Bulgarian international will now take up a role in the club's coaching staff.
On the last weekend of the Barclays Premier League campaign, there was still plenty to play for as Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur battled it out for fourth spot, which would secure a passage to the UEFA Champions League qualification rounds.
Arsenal started the day a point ahead of their North London rivals and they capped off a remarkable run of recent form with a 1-0 win away to Newcastle United, courtesy of defender Laurent Koscielny, as the Gunners qualified for the Champions League for the 16th consecutive season.
Tottenham finished fifth despite another stunning late winner from Gareth Bale against Sunderland. The in-form Welshman took his tally to 21 goals for the season and he was also honoured with the Football Writers' Association Player of the Year award in May.
The month was also a momentous one for Chelsea who, as well as finishing third in the Premier League, won the UEFA Europa League with an injury-time Branislav Ivanovic header baeting Portuguese side Benfica 2-1 in the final. Frank Lampard also became the club's all-time top scorer with a double against Aston Villa that took his tally to 203 goals in all competitions.
At the bottom end of the league table, Wigan Athletic were relegated from the top flight for the first time. Their hopes were hit by a 3-2 home defeat by Swansea City and their fate was confirmed by a 4-1 loss away to Arsenal.
A cluster of clubs were in the relegation battle right up until the penultimate weekend but Aston Villa, who won five out of their last 10 matches, and Norwich City, who finished with back-to-back wins, were among the teams who secured their safety before the finale.
Before their relegation, Wigan claimed their first major trophy as they won the FA Cup with a superb 1-0 victory over Manchester City.
Manchester United forward Robin van Persie won the Golden Boot for the second consecutive season, netting 26 times in the 2012/13 campaign, while Sir Alex Ferguson won the Barclays Manager of the Year award and Gareth Bale won the Players' honour.
There were 1,063 goals in the 2012/13 season, the joint-second highest tally in the competition's history.
Newly promoted side Cardiff City were joined in the Barclays Premier League for the 2013/14 campaign by Hull City, who finished second in the Championship, and Crystal Palace, who won the play-off final with a 1-0 win over Watford at Wembley Stadium.
"I will be able to go along and watch them rather than suffer with them. Those last-minute goals, the comebacks and even the defeats are part of this great football club. It has been an unbelievable experience."
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson retires as manager after 26 years in charge.
"The Premier League has had the privilege to witness many great players, managers and teams. No one has made as great a contribution to the Premier League than Sir Alex Ferguson. His drive, ambition, skill, passion and vision have not only shaped Manchester United, but in many ways the game of football as we now know it."
Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore leads the tributes to the Sir Alex Ferguson
"I am delighted Sir Alex saw fit to recommend me for the job. I have great respect for everything he has done. I know how hard it will be to follow the best manager ever, but the opportunity to manage Manchester United isn't something that comes around very often. I am really looking forward to taking up the post next season."
Incoming Man Utd manager David Moyes expresses his delight at being offered the job.
"I am happy because the exceptional attitude and determination of this group of players has been rewarded. They continued to believe when we were seven points behind Tottenham in mid-March. We had no room for error any more and you could never see any sign of giving in."
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger takes pride in another top-four finish for his team.
"The relegation is really disappointing but it is something that we can rectify. We will bounce back as we always do as we always do at Wigan Athletic. The club is on a fantastic financial footing, we are stronger than ever in that respect, our football style and philosophy is something for the long term."
Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez is sure the club will return to the Barclays Premier League after being relegated to the Championship
"We're in the Premier League now. It's absolutely massive for the club. We've got plans to change the ground [Selhurst Park], it's getting a bit old in places, so I'm just delighted for everybody connected with the club. They're gentlemen and I'm very privileged."
Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway relishes the challenge of competing in the Barclays Premier League again.
For May's results at a glance, click here
Barclays Premier League Champions: Manchester United.
UEFA Champions League qualifiers: Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal.
UEFA Europa League qualifiers: Tottenham Hotspur, Swansea City (after winning the Capital One Cup), Wigan Athletic (After winning the FA Cup).
Relegated: Wigan Athletic, Reading, Queens Park Rangers.
Promoted: Cardiff City, Hull City, Crystal Palace.