Football: You've topped Treble party Ferguson tells United fans

Alex Ferguson thanked tens of thousands of Manchester United fans as they gathered to salute him and his final English champion side following the culmination of an open-top bus parade from Old Trafford to Manchester Town Hall on Monday.

United manager Ferguson, one of football's most successful bosses, is retiring after guiding the Red Devils to the English Premier League title for a 13th time.

After Ferguson was seen singing "Glory, Glory Man United", the club's theme song, from the Town Hall balcony, he briefly took to a specially constructed stage in an Albert Square heaving with thousands of joyful Red Devils' supporters all bedecked in the club's red, white and black colours.

In what was likely his final public address to his adoring faithful, the 71-year-old Scot said the jubilant scenes surpassed even those of 1999 when the north-west side completed an unprecedented trophy treble of Premier League, FA Cup and European Champions League all in the one season.

"I thought 1999 would never be beaten but you have beaten it," Ferguson said.

And the often shy but this time literally retiring Paul Scholes -- the United midfielder is hanging up his boots at the end of the season having been one of Ferguson's mainstays -- also had a word for the fans.

"We set out each year to try and win the league. Most seasons we do it but it is good to see this turn out," Scholes said.

But Monday's celebrations were all about Ferguson, now just one game away -- at West Brom on Sunday -- from completing an astonishing career that has yielded 38 trophies for United in the more than 26 years since he joined from Aberdeen.

More than 75,000 supporters inside Old Trafford gave him a rousing send-off on Sunday after United marked his last home game in charge with a 2-1 league win over Swansea City.

"Yesterday is a day I will never forget.," Ferguson told supporters outside Old Trafford before the bus made its stately departure to Albert Square amid a backdrop of chants of "We love you Fergie, we do!"

"It was wonderful. Thank you. It was something all my family enjoyed and the grandkids will never forget it," he added.

"This is fantastic, I'm more pleased for you than anything else. To go through a 38-week programme of Premier division (football) and win it in style with a great bunch of players was great.

"It is a young squad with a lot of good young players and they will get better. The big test will be to win it three times in a row."

He could not resist one last jibe at bitter rivals Liverpool, the club that dominated English football when he arrived at Old Trafford in 1986 but whose previous record of 18 English titles that 20-times champions United have surpassed under Ferguson's astute guidance.

He urged fans to turn up for Tuesday's Under-21 encounter with fellow north-west side Liverpool at Old Trafford.

"We play that mob across the road," he said. "I hope some of you cheer the young lads on."

But there were jeers instead for Wayne Rooney as the United striker, currently out of the first team, after Ferguson revealed Sunday the England forward had submitted a transfer request.

Meanwhile Ray Hurst, a fan for 48 years, said he was "welling up" at seeing Ferguson wave goodbye.

"He's made our dreams come true and in great style, with fantastic football," the 67-year-old from Bolton, near Manchester, told AFP. "He inherited a pretty poor squad and it took him a few years to clear it out. He built it up bit by bit.

"I want to say to him: thanks for the memories.

"It's going to be a transition now. We need to back the new manager David Moyes and give him time -- just as we did with Fergie."

Alexine Blackburn, a carer from the Wythenshawe district, was stood by Old Trafford's memorial to the 1958 Munich Air Disaster that claimed the lives of eight United players among the 23 fatalities.

"It broke my heart when he announced his retirement. He made me cry and I've been crying all week."

Tony Chaloryoo, from central Thailand but now living in Sheffield, northern England, got to Old Trafford eight hours before the parade began.

"Alex Ferguson is one of the best football managers in history, one of the most brilliant. With Sir Alex retiring, nothing will be the same because he is the saviour of Manchester United."

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