2012-2013: Fergie finishes off in style
|Champions||Manchester United||Biggest Win||Chelsea 8-0 Aston Villa|
|Runners-Up||Manchester City||Highest Scoring Game||Arsenal 7-3 Newcastle United|
|Third Place||Chelsea||Top Goalscorer||Robin van Persie (26)|
|Relegated||Wigan Athletic, Reading, Queens Park Rangers||Goals Scored||1063|
Having been beaten to the title by Manchester City in 2011-2012, Sir Alex Ferguson was absolutely determined for that not to happen again. His response was to beat City to the signing of Robin van Persie when the Dutchman confirmed he would not be signing a new contract at Arsenal.
It was a signing for the present rather than the future and it definitely paid off. Van Persie scored 26 goals, including a hat-trick on his away debut at Southampton and another treble on crowning night against Aston Villa. Ferguson has league title number 20 wrapped up with a month of football still to play.
Then, in early May, the feisty Scot announced he would be retiring from management at the end of the season. The Red Devils’ collected their 13th Premier League title on the penultimate weekend of the campaign at home to Swansea City and Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra allowed Ferguson to lift the trophy aloft. The greatest dynasty in English football history was over.
Ferguson ended his 27-year management stint at Old Trafford with a sensational 5-5 draw on the final day away to West Bromwich Albion – the only time that scoreline has been amassed in Premier League history. This result overshadowed the main issue on the final day of the season which saw Arsenal win at Newcastle and claim a top-four finish at the expense of their north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
Despite the brilliance of Gareth Bale, who claimed his second PFA Players’ Player of the Year prize and a record points haul in the Premier League era at the time, Andre Villas-Boas’ side missed out on UEFA Champions League football once again. They finished behind Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City. City were distant runners-up and sacked Roberto Mancini in the final week of the season. Chelsea had already dispensed with the services of Roberto di Matteo back in November. Although not the fans’ popular choice, Rafa Benitez returned to English football on an interim basis and guided the Blues’ to a top-three finish and victory over Benfica in the UEFA Europa League final.
Ferguson had decided that “The Chosen One” to replace him at Manchester United would be David Moyes. Therefore, 2012-2013 would be his final season in charge of Everton after 11 stable seasons at the helm. He left them with a sixth-place finish and a fitting farewell in his last home match in charge. His likeability factor with Everton fans wouldn’t last however. Merseyside rivals Liverpool FC made a slow start but eventually came good to finish seventh in Brendan Rodgers’ first season in management at the club. This was in Jamie Carragher’s final season as a professional footballer. He would retire on the final day and the same went for Ferguson, Paul Scholes and Michael Owen who finished his career on the quiet side at Stoke City. Luis Suarez wowed many with his skills and goals but was slapped with a 10-match ban by the FA in April for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in a league fixture at Anfield.
Despite winning the FA Cup against the odds, Wigan Athletic dropped out of the top-flight after a 4-1 defeat to Arsenal in the last week of the season. Reading and Queens Park Rangers struggled all season and were relegated before April was over after they played out a goalless draw in Berkshire.
Sir Alex Ferguson went out on a high and Manchester United haven’t had as good since his retirement at the end of the 2012-2013 season.