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Alex Ferguson's final Manchester United press conference in full

The former East Stirlingshire, St Mirren, Aberdeen and Scotland boss addressed the media for the last time, using the opportunity to tell stories from his early days in management

Alex Ferguson walked into his final Manchester United press conference to a standing ovation from journalists.

The 71-year-old, who was presented with a bottle of wine and a cake by Neil Custis of the Sun, will retire after Sunday's game against West Brom and was relaxed as he addressed the media for the last time.

"I think dealing with the modern media has been difficult for the managers and I've been lucky that I have integrated into all the different stages of my time here.

"It got me into a position where I didn't accept what you wrote, and when you did say nice things I tended to dismiss it also.

"I've always thought you've had a difficult job with the pressure you are under with modern television, internet, facebook and all the rest of the nonsense.

"But I've never held grudges. All the times I've banned you I've never held grudges against anyone, because I don't think it's my style. I react and then forget about it sometime later.

"Thanks for the kind words, it was very good of you, and thanks for the fantastic time I've had here, even sometimes with the press too.

"So, my last game. God. 1500 matches, quite incredible. It couldn't be more difficult, I think West Brom have done fantastic. They're a good, strong side and everybody wants to win their last home game, I think that's a fact of life. Obviously we'll want to win this one, more than last week even.

"I don't have any injury problems. I'll make a few changes, I think one or two young players should play. At the time we realised we won the league, I said to Anders, because at that time I thought you needed 10 appearances to get a medal, 'You will definitely play two games to get your medals', but that's changed but I still stand by my word and he will be in goal.

"I don't have Rafael so I will have to make a decision about that. I want to play Jones and Evans at centre-back to see how they do, because they could be the future. Vida and Ferdinand will have to make do with a place on the bench!

"Sunday was quite amazing, it was unbelievable," he added. "And the parade on Monday, I thought that 99 could not be beaten. When we turned on to Deansgate in 99 and it was all mobbed, but this time we turned in and it was all that scaffolding and it was incredible. I think it was better than 99, I really do.

"Albert Square was fantastic, with the band playing there. It was really great. I went home that night and had 10 hours' sleep. I think it was the first time in my life I've had 10 hours' sleep. Cathy kept coming up, I could sense she was round about me and I think she was checking that I was alive. It was marvellous, tremendous.

"I don't think I'm going to be that way [without something to do]. I'm driven to take on some challenges and some other things right away. I've got the LMA meeting on Monday, I'm going to Newmarket for two days because I've got a share in Telescope, it better be bloody fit! I'm going on holiday on June 4, I've got the Derby on June 1, I'm on holiday for a month, then the operation, then the recuperation, then the season starts, then we're off, it's alright.

"It can't be a substitution because it's a different life. It's been nearly 40 years as a manager. From that day at East Stirlingshire, eight players and no goalkeeper, to now with six goalkeepers and about 100 players or something like that.

"I remember the old chairman, Bobby Wearhead, he was a great chain smoker and I said to him 'Can you give me the list of players you've got?'. He started to shake, his cigarette was going 100mph. I had to remind him a couple of days later, and he gave me the list of players; eight players, no goalkeeper. I said to him 'It's advisable to start with a goalkeeper, you're aware of that?'. So my first signing was a young boy from Partick Thistle, Tom Gourlay, he was big, god he was big. I had to pay £1000 for him, but all the rest of the transfers were done ofr £100 signing-on fees, free transfers. That's an education, that. It's fantastic. Anybody starting to should start that kind of way. We had £2000 to get five players.

"Twenty-six years at Manchester United is fantastic. The whole thing, everything. The day I came here was a privilege and the day I leave here I’ve been honoured. You run the gauntlet of emotions of course, it’s such a great football club, and I’m lucky to have been here that length of time.

"Being here is something to be proud of.

"Change is inevitable, you have to manage that. There’s no doubt about that. There’s big changes at this club, in terms of number of staff. Sports science has come into it, modern technology has come into it. When I started as a manager there was no agents, the media was different too. There was no freedom of contract. The changes are all there, which I’ve integrated over a long period. I don’t think I’ve changed much.

"I made my mind up a while ago and that was it. Yeah you get disappointments. You can’t be a success without disappointments. I think disappointments are good for you, in terms of recovering from it and as a challenge to your players' character to recover, and I think we’ve been doing that over the years."

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