Monday 13 May 2013

Ferguson lays down hat-trick gauntlet

20,000 people line streets of Manchester to celebrate United title victory parade

  • Manchester United's players board the open-top bus at Old Trafford

  • United's Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Young lead the singing from the top deck

  • One supporter shows his thanks to Sir Alex Ferguson and his remarkable trophy haul

  • The joy on the faces of the United players is clear to see

  • Even Ferguson takes a photograph for posterity

  • The day also marks the retirement of midfielder Paul Scholes

  • Ferguson joins in with the singing

Manchester United are only going to get better, according to Sir Alex Ferguson, who has challenged his side to win three titles in a row after he stands down as manager of the club.

"The big test is to win it three times in a row. I hope the boys can do it"
Sir Alex Ferguson

Ferguson joined his squad and 20,000 supporters who turned out to celebrate his 13th title win with an open-top bus parade in Manchester on Monday night.

The players and manager ignored the showers to show off the Barclays Premier League trophy along the route from Old Trafford to the shopping complex in Deansgate in the city centre as Ferguson bade farewell to the United faithful before he retires at the end of the season.

"You always think about it [whether you are doing the right thing, but I think it is the right time, I really do," said Ferguson, who signed off by throwing down a new gauntlet down to his side. "But we have a young squad, with a lot of good young players, who are going to get better.

The Scot then challenged his side to mirror the feats of 2007-2009, when they won three titles in succession. "The big test is to win it three times in a row. I hope the boys can do it."

With 20,000 fans packed into Sir Matt Busby Way, roads had to be closed prior to the Red Devils' departure, and whilst there was space along the main route into the city centre, once the bus headed down the main shopping area, Deansgate, supporters found a variety of vantage points to see the team drive past." You know they say United fans live outside the city," quipped Ferguson.

Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Young were among the player top lead the singing, while Wayne Rooney led the tributes to their outgoing 71-year-old. "He has been brilliant for us all," said Rooney. "He is a great manager. He is a winner and to do it for so long is incredible. He is a fantastic manager and a fantastic person.”

No player knows the manager better than Ryan Giggs, whose 619 Barclays Premier League matches have all unfolded under the direction of Ferguson, and the Welshman admitted the news of his manager’s retirement had been difficult to swallow.

"It has been tough, especially for the players who have known him for a long time," said Giggs, whose disappointment was tempered by yet another title success. "We are delighted we were able to end on a high and won the league in his last season.”

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Key Points

  • Over 20,000 turn out for Manchester United's Barclays Premier League title victory parade
  • Sir Alex Ferguson challenges his side to win three title in a row
  • Players pay tribute to outgoing manager