English football will witness the end of an era on Sunday when Alex Ferguson takes charge of Manchester United for the 1,500th and final time in their last game of the season at West Bromwich Albion.
Having waved goodbye to Old Trafford in an emotional 2-1 win over Swansea City last weekend, Ferguson will close the door on his managerial career at The Hawthorns -- 26 years, six months and 11 days since his first game at the United helm, a 2-0 loss at Oxford United on November 8, 1986. It promises to be a day rich in nostalgia for Ferguson, who will be succeeded by Everton manager David Moyes on July 1.
In his final pre-game press conference, he cast his mind back to the very beginning of his journey as a manager, with Scottish minnows East Sterling in 1974.
“I have had 39 years as a manager,” said the 71-year-old.
“On that day in 1974 when I started at East Stirling, I had eight players and no goalkeeper. Today I have six goalkeepers and about 100 players.”
He added: “I remember the old chairman, Willie Muirhead. He was a great chain smoker. When I asked him for a list of players, he started to shake. His cigarette was going 100 miles an hour.”
“I had to remind him a couple of days later. He gave me a list of eight players and no goalkeeper. I said: ‘You know it is advisable to start with a keeper -- are you aware of that?”
The Scot says he intends to field Phil Jones and Jonny Evans at centre-back, while he has also promised to honour a vow made to second-choice goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard that he would start the game. “I stand by that,” Ferguson said.
Paul Scholes, 38, could make one last appearance for United, having announced his retirement last week.