Premier League preview: West Brom v Manchester United
By Football News
Manchester United head to West Brom on Sunday knowing the club will never be the same again once the final whistle sounds.While there is nothing riding on the match, United's players will undoubtedly be desperate for victory to give outgoing manager Alex Ferguson a fitting send-off in his 1,500th, and final, game in charge.
Ferguson stunned the football world when he announced his retirement last week and following Sunday's Premier League game, the club he is synonymous with will begin a new chapter under David Moyes.
West Brom will give Ferguson a guard of honour before the game kicks off at The Hawthorns, although the home side's manager Steve Clarke insists it will not be a party.
"It's going to be a historic afternoon and I've been involved with so many clubs over the years that have played against Sir Alex," Clarke said.
"Everybody has paid tribute to him and he's decided to get out of the game at the right time.
"The pleasing thing for me is that he goes out at the top, with his team having finished the season as champions."
While Ferguson's players will be keen to give their 71-year-old Scottish mentor a fitting farewell with three points, the recently-crowned champions could also see the contest against West Brom as an early audition for next season.
Central defender Rio Ferdinand has made it clear he believes 2013-14 will represent a clean slate for all United players under Moyes, who will head to Old Trafford after more than a decade as manager of Everton.
"We've got to prove ourselves to the new manager," Ferdinand said.
"He's going to come in with new ideas, new rules, a new regime.
"No matter how long you've been here, whether it's the likes of Giggsy (Ryan Giggs) or myself, we're going to be in the same boat as people like Danny Welbeck, Phil Jones, Tom Cleverley.
"We have got to make sure he feels we're the right people to start each game."
But West Brom will also look at Sunday's game as a critical chance to prove themselves ahead of the next Premier League season.
West Brom have lost five of their last seven matches in the English top tier to fall to eighth on the league table and Clarke's players will surely want to make a statement before the 49-year-old manager begins planning for the next campaign.