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Remembering the XI that featured in Fergie’s 1,500th and final game as Man United manager

It’s just over eight years since Sir Alex Ferguson called time on his illustrious managerial career, with the Scotsman signing off in style after claiming a 13th Premier League title in his final season at Manchester United.

With that final trophy of his 26-year stint already in the bag, Ferguson arrived at The Hawthorns on the last day of the 2012/13 campaign hoping to bow out with a victory, with the fixture even more special as it marked his 1,500th game as United manager.

A perfect send-off looked all-but secured as the Red Devils raced into a three-goal lead inside just 30 minutes, a lead that was restored at 5-2 after West Brom had hit back through James Morrison and Romelu Lukaku.

However, a frantic finale saw the Baggies hit three goals in the space of just six minutes, with,Lukaku drawing his side level in the 86th minute to complete a blistering second-half hat-trick.

That eventful 5-5 draw somewhat spoiled Ferguson’s party, although it at least ensured a memorable exit for Britain’s most decorated manager.

We look back on that high-scoring thriller and the starting XI that featured for United on that day back in May 2013.

Goalkeeper: Anders Lindegaard

Something of a forgotten man for many United supporters, Anders Lindegaard actually featured ten times in the league during that title-winning campaign, having enjoyed a run in the side prior to Christmas in the absence of usual number one David de Gea.

With the Spaniard enduring a shaky start to life at Old Trafford, Lindegaard was given an opportunity but failed to really prove he was up to the task, having originally joined the club from Aalesund.

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He made just three further appearances for the club in all competitions before departing, ironically, for West Brom in 2015. Lindegaard later had spells at both Preston North End and Burnley, with the 37-year-old currently on the books of Swedish side Helsingborgs.

Right-back: Antonio Valencia

Antonio Valencia proved a reliable and consistent presence during his decade-long stint in Manchester, having originally joined the club from Wigan in 2009, with his relentless displays down the right-flank seeing him develop into a key man under Ferguson.

Such was his impressive form that the Ecuadorean was even handed the number seven shirt for the 2012/13 campaign, albeit with that burden seemingly taking its toll as he endured a difficult season, before returning to his previous squad number (25) at the end of the campaign.

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As for the clash with the Baggies, it served as something of a precursor for his later United career as he lined up at right-back, notably seeing a trademark drilled cross-shot deflect in off the sliding Jonas Olsson for the away side’s second of the game, while his pull-back also teed up Robin van Persie to make it 4-2.

Valencia later captained the club in his final few seasons at Old Trafford, before his time in England came to an end in 2019 as he returned to his homeland, having made 339 appearances for United in all competitions. After brief spells in Ecuador and Mexico, the 36-year-old retired in May 2021.

Centre-back: Phil Jones

The only player on this list still at the club – in a playing capacity – Phil Jones was a highly-rated prospect back in 2013, yet has since suffered a real career nosedive amid injury issues.

Ferguson backed Jones to become one of the club’s all-time greats upon his retirement from management, after the defender had impressed in a variety of positions since arriving from Blackburn as a teenager.

‘Fergie’s’ retirement appeared to stall his progress as he struggled under the succession of managers that followed however, with loss of form and injury having restricted him to just two top-flight appearances since the start of the 2019/20 campaign.

Still only 29, the defender still has two years remaining on his current deal and is back training with the first-team, having been absent since January 2020 due to an ongoing knee problem.

Centre-back: Jonny Evans

The current Leicester City man may not have had the best afternoon against Steve Clarke’s side, yet was highly regarded by the club and supporters alike, with many continually questioning the decision to let him go during Louis van Gaal’s tenure.

With the ageing duo of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand coming to the end in 2013, many expected Evans to go on to be the next defensive mainstay at the club, before he was shipped off to West Brom in 2015 after a decade-long association with United.

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Since then, the Northern Ireland stalwart has earned rave reviews for his performances at the Hawthorns and later at the King Power Stadium, with the 33-year-old still a key man for Brendan Rodgers’ impressive Foxes side.

Left-back: Alexander Buttner

Remember him?

One of the few questionable signings made during the Ferguson reign, Alexander Buttner made little impact at Old Trafford during his two-year stint with the club, the Dutch defender failing to convince that he could be the long-term successor to Patrice Evra.

In his defence, the left-back was handed few opportunities to impress at the club, making just 28 appearances in all competitions, including 13 Premier League appearances, with five of those coming in the title-winning campaign.

He would score one of his two league goals that season in the draw with West Brom, firing in at the back post with a low effort to make it 3-0. The 32-year-old currently plays for RKC Waalwijk in the Eredivisie.

Midfield: Anderson

Another who suffered after Ferguson’s departure, Anderson was a valued squad member during the Scotsman’s tenure, having joined the club from Porto in 2007, going on to make 181 appearances for United in his eight-year stay in English football.

The mercurial Brazilian was never a first-team regular during his time with the Red Devils, partly due to injury, yet emerged as something of a fans favourite, notably converting his penalty in the 2008 Champions League final win after coming off the bench in the final minute of extra-time.

While there were flashes of flair and brilliance throughout his time at Old Trafford, Anderson’s inconsistency meant he failed to convince Ferguson’s successors in David Moyes and Louis van Gaal.

He left the club in 2015 to join Internacional on a free transfer, before ending his playing career in 2020 with Turkish side Adana Demirspor.

Midfield: Michael Carrick

Alongside Jones, Michael Carrick is the other man still part of the first-team set-up, albeit as a coach, having called time on his impressive playing career in 2018 after 12 years at the heart of United’s midfield.

An underrated asset, the Englishman perhaps never truly received the plaudits he deserved, going on to make just 34 appearances for his country, despite playing a key role in helping the Red Devils secure five Premier League titles after joining from Tottenham in 2006.

The 40-year-old is one of just two players – alongside Wayne Rooney – to have won the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, Champions League, Community Shield, Europa League and Club World Cup – a mightily impressive haul.

Midfield: Tom Cleverley

The 2012/13 campaign proved to be something of a breakthrough season for Tom Cleverley, as he went on to feature 32 times in all competitions, having made his debut for the club a season earlier after a handful of stints out on loan.

Against the Baggies, Cleverley teed up Buttner with a threaded pass for the third goal of the game, before being withdrawn on the hour mark for the long-serving Ryan Giggs.

With the retirement of Paul Scholes at the end of the season handing him an even greater role in the side under David Moyes, the youngster struggled to cement his position before becoming one of the many casualties of the Van Gaal era, as he was shipped off to Aston Villa on loan in 2014.

He signed for Everton in 2015, before making the switch to Watford in 2016, with the 32-year-old a pivotal player for the Hornets after helping them secure promotion from the Championship last season.

Midfield: Shinji Kagawa

Shinji Kagawa arrived as an addition to Ferguson’s side in the summer of 2012, having previously played a starring role for Jurgen Klopp’s hugely talented Borussia Dortmund side.

The Japan international enjoyed a promising first season at Old Trafford, with the creative midfielder memorably netting a hat-trick in a 4-0 win against Norwich City and scoring six league goals for the campaign.

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Named man of the match in Ferguson’s final home game the week before, Kagawa continued that fine form by opening the scoring against West Brom with a well-taken header after a cross from Javier Hernandez.

Despite continuing to feature under Moyes, the diminutive playmaker failed to build on that bright early form, before returning to Dortmund in 2014. The 32-year-old currently plies his trade for Greek side PAOK, having also played for Besiktas and Real Zaragoza in recent years.

Forward: Javier Hernandez

A much-loved figure during his time at the club, Javier Hernandez earned himself a reputation as a lethal finisher and a super-sub after hitting the ground running in English football following his arrival from Guadalajara in 2010.

Hernandez scored 20 goals in all competitions during his debut season as United won the title, before reaching 10 league goals in successive seasons to rubber-stamp his status as a hugely impactful squad player.

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The Mexican striker teed up Kagawa for the game’s opener on a rare start against West Brom, before firing in United’s fifth with a typical poacher’s finish midway through the second-half.

The goals dried up the following season as he scored just four times in the Premier League, with ‘Chicharito’ moving to Real Madrid on loan in 2014. He signed for Bayer Leverkusen on a permanent basis in 2015 and has since had spells at West Ham, Sevilla and LA Galaxy.

Forward: Robin van Persie

The man who fired Ferguson to his 13th league title, Robin van Persie was the difference maker that season after plundering 26 league goals during his debut campaign after a controversial decision to leave rivals Arsenal for Old Trafford.

Van Persie memorably sealed the title with a first-half hat-trick in the 3-0 home win over Aston Villa in April, with that treble including his breathtaking volleyed effort after a delightful lofted pass from Wayne Rooney.

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His final goal of the campaign came against West Brom, but his spectacular first season was as good as it got for the Dutchman as he failed to hit those heights again over the next two seasons, as both he – and United – struggled to kick on in the absence of their legendary former manager.

His three-year stint in Manchester saw him score 58 goals in just 105 games in all competitions before he left to join Fenerbache in 2015. The now-retired 38-year-old ended his stellar career back at former club Feyenoord in 2019.


Ryan Giggs

Giggs took little time to make an impact after replacing Tom Cleverley, as he set-up Hernandez’s goal just three minutes after entering the fray in what was his 21st consecutive season in the Premier League.

Unlike his manager, the ageing Welshman was in no rush to call time on his career and spent another season featuring under Moyes, before replacing his sacked manager during a brief spell as interim manager.

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After working under Van Gaal as an assistant coach, he ended his long association with the club in 2016, having made a record-breaking 963 appearances for the Old Trafford outfit.

Paul Scholes

Perhaps lost amid the madness of the game – and Ferguson’s departure – was the final farewell of Paul Scholes, the immensely talented midfielder quietly bowing out of the game for the second time, having previously done so at the end of the 2010/11 season.

One of the most gifted players of his generation, the England international was simply irreplaceable after his departure, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s current side perhaps still searching for a player of his calibre in central midfield.

Rio Ferdinand

With the game delicately poised at 5-4, Ferdinand entered the fray as a late replacement for Jonny Evans in order to shore up the defence, only for Lukaku to bag his third of the game just moments later to complete a remarkable comeback for the hosts.

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While that finale had somewhat taken the shine off of Ferguson’s special day, Ferdinand had at least ensured a positive home send-off for his manager at Old Trafford the week before, having netted a rare goal – and the winner – in the 2-1 win against Swansea City.

Read – Remembering the iconic young Ajax side that beat AC Milan to secure UCL glory

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