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1977 - 1978: No Silverware in Sexton's first season

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:35 am

Following the FA Cup triumph of the previous season 1977/78 failed to deliver further success as United finished a disappointing 10th in the League with 16 wins, 10 draws and 16 defeats and scored 67 goals, their goal average was only +4. In the FA Cup they were beaten in the fourth round and in the League Cup they progressed only as far as the second round.

In the European Cup Winners' Cup United won the first round and met FC Porto in the second. United's European dreams ended again with a 6-5 aggregate defeat. United did however share the Charity Shield with Liverpool after a 0:0 draw with Liverpool.

United set a new record transfer between British clubs by signing Gordon McQueen from Leeds United for £500,000. This followed the earlier move by Joe Jordan, also from Elland Road, for £350,000. A record fee was recieved from Derby County again for Gordon Hill, sold for £250,000.



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1978 - 1979: Wembley heartbreak in United's centenary season

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:35 am

United's centenary season got under way with a 4-0 win against Real Madrid, watched by almost 50,000 fans. But at the end of the campaign there was disappointment as United lost a sensational FA Cup final to Arsenal.

With Arsenal leading 2-0 and less than 5 minutes remaining McQueen scored to give United hope and incredibly a minute later Sammy McIllroy pulled the scores level. But there was heartbreak for United as in the last minute Arsenal stole the winner to win the FA Cup.

In the league United ended again disappointed, finishing only 9th. In the League Cup they lost once again in the third round. Sexton signed Mickey Thomas from Wrexham for £300,000.

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1979 - 1980: Pipped to the Title by Liverpool

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:36 am

The season began with United paying and receiving record club transfer fees. Ray Wilkins moved from Chelsea to Manchester for £825,000 and Jimmy Greenhoff went to Leeds United for 350,000.

United came very close to winning the Championship this season, but Liverpool pipped them to the finishing line. United had to settle for second, despite only eight defeats in the league.

In the FA Cup there was defeat in the third round and in the League Cup they were also knocked out in the third round.

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1980 - 1981: Sexton out, Atkinson in

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:36 am

The European dream ended early in the new season as Polish side Widzew Lodz knocked United out of the UEFA cup on the away goals rule.
In October the record transfer fees were smashed again, Garry Birtles arriving from Nottingham Forest for £1.25M and Brighton and Hove Albion paid £500,000 for Andy Ritchie. Following the previous season's escapades the United fans were dreaming of another Championship, but this time United failed to reproduce any Championship winning form and finished a very disappointing 8th.

In the League Cup they didn't do much better as they lost in the second round while in the FA Cup they were eliminated in the fourth round. This disappointing season meant the end of the managerial spell of Dave Sexton at United, he was dismissed at the end of the season and succeeded by Ron Atkinson.

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1981 - 1982: Big Ron busy in the transfer market

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:36 am

Ron Atkinson followed Sexton into the hot seat and even though he brought the FA Cup to Old Trafford twice in three years he could not take United to the pinnacle. The League Championship was the measure of the best team in the nation and seeing Liverpool winning it year after year was having a demoralising effect on the great club that United was.

Sir Matt Busby had set the standard and it was proving a ball and chain around the necks of all his successors. An eventful summer preceeded the season as John Gidman signed from Everton and Frank Stapleton arrived from Arsenal. Mickey Thomas moved to Everton and Joe Jordan went overseas to AC Milan of Italy. A record deal totalling £2.4M brought Bryan Robson and Remi Moses to Old Trafford from West Bromwich Albion early in the season. Robson's pricetag of £1.5M clearly made him the most expensive player in Britain. 17-year-old Norman Whiteside became the youngest ever player to appear in the World Cup finals playing in all five of Northern Ireland's matches.

Although United bought a lot their season was largely unsuccessful. Defeat came early in the FA Cup and the League Cup. While in the League United finished the season in a respectable third place, but again a long way from the Championship.

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1982 - 1983: Atkinson's first silverware

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:36 am

This season United again finished near the top of the table, but yet again they were not able to make the last step to the summit and at the end of the season they finished third.

United scored only 56 goals, what an average of only 1.3 goals per game. They did reach their first ever League Cup final however, but lost 2:1 at Wembley to Liverpool, Whiteside scoring the only goal for United. But the Reds returned to Wembley a few weeks later to play the FA Cup final against Brighton and Hove Albion.

The first game ended in a 2-2 draw, with Stapleton and Wilkins scoring for United. In the replay Brighton and Hove Albion was blown away as United played superbly, winning the replay by a record scoreline of 4-0. Robson scored twice, Whiteside and penalty by Murhen. For the fifth time in their history United lifted the FA Cup.

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1983 - 1984: European glory, European agony

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:37 am

This season could again not bring United the continued success they desperately craved, finishing a respectable fourth, losing only eight games and scoring a total of 71 goals. United did lift the Charity Shield with a 2-0 win over Liverpool, Robson scoring again twice.

United were to enjoy more success in the European Cup Winners' Cup as they produced one of the most memorable European nights at Old Trafford, defeating Barcelona 3:0 after a 2:0 defeat in the first leg. Virtue of that great comeback they reached their first European semi-final in 15 years but lost narrowly to Juventus.

There were surprise exits from the domestic cups against third division sides, they lost to Oxford in the League Cup and to AFC Bournemouth in the FA Cup. There was plenty of transfer activity at the end of the season with Jesper Olsen, Gordon Strachan and Alan Brazil all making the move to Old Trafford. Ray Wilkins joined Italian giants AC Milan for £:1.5M. The stadium was also being renovated with further extensions to the canteliver roof. Also that year Bobby Charlton joined the board of directors.

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1984 - 1985: FA Cup returns to Old Trafford

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:37 am

For the second time in a row United finished the season in fourth place in the league, with two points and six goals more than last year. Everton knocked United out of the League Cup in the third round, but United gained revenge in the FA Cup final with a brillant Norman Whiteside goal in extra time. Kevin Moran wrote history for all the wrong reasons by becoming the first player ever to be sent off in an FA Cup final.

In Europe United could again not fulfil their dreams as Hungary's Videoton ended their UEFA Cup run in the quarter finals by winning a penalty shoot-out. Chris Turner joined United from Sunderland and Peter Barnes moved from Coventry City. Further building would leave Old Trafford with unobstructed viewing facilities in three-quarters of the ground. United were also to follow the example of many European clubs by introducing a basketball team.

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1985 - 1986: Consistent in the league, but no silverware

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:37 am

For the third successive time Manchester United finished fourth in the league and established themselves as consistant performers. They won 22 of their games and lost ten, scoring 70 goals with a goal average of +34. A club record run of ten consecutive victories opened the season to raise hopes of a league title but injuries and loss of form, saw the club finish in fourth.

In the domestic Cups United went out of the FA Cup in the fifth round and in the League Cup it was defeat in the fourth round. Mark Hughes left for Barcelona, whilst Colin Gibson, Peter Davenport, Terry Gibson and John Sivebaek joined the ranks. The club's £100,000 museum and visiters centre opened to the public. Chairman Martin Edwards and the mother of the legendary Duncan Edwards performed the opening ceremony.

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1986 - 1987: Alex Ferguson takes over

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:37 am

Poor form in the league saw United languishing at the bottom of the table and an early exit from the League Cup at Southampton meant the departure of Ron Atkinson. In the FA Cup United lost in the fourth round. Alex Ferguson stepped into the breach from Aberdeen and brought Archie Knox with him as his assistant.

When Ferguson was appointed in November 1986, most United supporters felt that here was a man who could lead United out of the wilderness. He had broken the Celtic/Rangers stranglehold in Scotland with Aberdeen. In just eight years as their boss, he took them to the Scottish championship three times (1980, 1984 and 1985), four Scottish Cups (1982, 1983, 1984 and 1986), the Scottish League Cup (1983) and even the Cup Winners' Cup in 1983. That was success United could only dream about. So was the double of League and Cup he led them to in 1984. Fittingly it would be precisely ten years later when he would lead United to the first of two doubles in three seasons.

Unlike Sir Matt, Alex was never a great player but he had many other attributes that made him into an accomplished manager. A fanatical determination to succeed coupled with superb future planning ensured that Alex was building both for the present and the future of the club. He had inherited a club which had won very little during the preceeding 18 years but how things were to change!

Realising that one of the main problem was the neglect of the junior sides he put together an ambitious membership scheme, launched in April of 1987 with a target of 40,000 members. Rugby League came to Old Trafford with 50,589 watching Great Britain play Australia and 38,755 present for the Premiership finals.

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1987 - 1988: Second in the league

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:38 am

United finished second in the league despite amassing a total of 81 points, losing only five times and scoring 71 goals. In the FA Cup United reached the fifth round while in the League Cup they were out come the fourth round.

Three major signings were made, Brian McClair from Celtic, Viv Anderson from Arsenal and Steve Bruce from Norwich City. McClair finished the season with a total of 31 League and Cup goals, the first player to score more than 20 league goals since George Best.

Brian McClair went on to play 447 matches for United by 1996, putting him in 12th place of the record appearance list. He also scored 126 goals by 1996 and stand 11th in the goalscoring records. The club's association with the Basketball team ended after four years.

Les Olive, United's secretary for over 30 years, retired and his assistant Kenneth Merrett was appointed as his successor.

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1988 - 1989: Pressure mounts on Fergie

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:38 am

The 1988/89 was a very disappointing season for Alex Ferguson and United, with injuries a major contributory factor, on all fronts. In the league United finished 11th, with 13 wins, 12 draws and 13 defeats, they scored 45 goals but conceded 45 as well. In the League Cup United were knocked out in the third round. In the FA Cup United managed to reach the sixth round.

The transfer money continued to be spent in great quantities as Mike Phelan came from Norwich City, Neil Webb from Nottingham Forest, Gary Pallister from Middlesbrough and Paul Ince from West Ham United. At the end of the season the board were considering Ferguson's future but wisely decided to retain his services in the hope that silverware would be forthcoming.

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1989 - 1990: The turning point of Fergie's reign

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:38 am

Another poor showing in League was forgetten as United lifted the FA Cup in 1990. There wasn't one home tie as the Reds battled to Wembley for the first time since 1985. The turning point of the season and possibly of Alex Ferguson's reign at Old Trafford came with a narrow 1:0 quarter-final win over Nottingham Forest at the City Ground, many believing Mark Robins' solitary goal saved Ferguson from the sack.

Any threat of Ferguson losing his job was ended after two memorable meetings with Crystal Palace in the final. A pulsating 3-3 draw, with Hughes scoring twice and Robson scoring, was followed by a 1-0 replay win; full-back Lee Martin scoring the winning goal for United.

In the League United finished 13th, the lowest position since Alex Ferguson's arrival, having suffered 16 defeats and a goal average of -1 (47-48). In the League Cup United were knocked out in the third round. Denis Irwin moved from Oldham Athletic shortly after the end of the season.

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1990 - 1991: United win second European trophy

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:38 am

The first European trophy since 1968 came to Old Trafford as United beat Spanish giants Barcelona 2-1 in Rotterdam to lift the European Cup Winners' Cup. This compesated for the disappointment of losing the League Cup final against Sheffield Wednesday (1-0).
In the league United finished an encouraging sixth although they had one point deducted for a 22-man on-field brawl with Arsenal at Old Trafford. United also shared the Charity Shield at the beginning of the season, drawing 1-1 with Liverpool, the goal for United scored by Blackmore. In the FA Cup United lost in the fifth round. Peter Schmeichel was signed from Brondby (Denmark), Andrei Kanchelskis from Shakhytor Donetsk (Soviet Union) and Paul Parker from Queens Park Rangers.

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1991 - 1992: Long Title wait continues

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:39 am

United's first league title in 25 years was cruelly snatched from their grasp by Leeds United in the closing week of the season. United finished second with a total of 78 points, only six defeats. There was consolation in the winning of the club's first League Cup with a 1:0 win over Nottingham Forest at Wembley, Brian McClair scoring the decisive goal.

In the FA Cup United lost in the fourth round. The attempt to retain the European Cup Winners' Cup ended at the second round stage at the hands of Atletico Madrid of Spain. The European Super Cup also made its debut in the trophy room with a 1:0 victory over European Champions Red Star Belgrade.

The United youngsters won the FA Youth Cup by defeating Crystal Palace 6-3 on aggregate. The youth teams boasted a wealth of talent with the likes of Sharpe, Beckham, Giggs, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Scholes and Butt. Dion Dublin moved to United from Cambridge United in the close-season in an attempt to boost United's at times toothless attack.

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1992 - 1993: 26 year wait comes to an end

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:39 am

United finally ended their 26 year wait for the Championship by lifting the first ever FA Premier League Championship, with 24 victories and 84 points, ten more than nearest rivals Aston Villa.

The campaign for European honours didn't progress beyond the first round as Torpedo Moscow won a penalty shoot-out. In the League Cup United were knocked out in the third round by Aston Villa, while in the FA Cup Sheffield United beat them 1:0 at Bramall Lane in the fifth round.

The major arrival of the season was the shock move of Eric Cantona from Leeds in December. The previous year Cantona had been a major factor in Leeds' overhauling of United in the championship race but he was to become the final piece in Alex Ferguson's championship winning team.

The close-season saw the much sought after Roy Keane joining United from Nottingham Forest for £3.75M, a British transfer record at the time.

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1993 - 1994: The Double!

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:39 am

The 1993-1994 season was a season of both great success and sadness. On Thursday 20th January Sir Matt Busby passed away. Sir Matt led United to European glory in 1968 and was responsible for the creation of the legendary `Busby Babes', the majority of whom perished in the Munich air crash. United payed a fitting tribute to Sit Matt by becoming only the fourth club this century to achieve the coveted League and FA Cup double.

The league title was retained by eight points from Blackburn Rovers. The FA Cup lifted after a crushing 4-0 defeat of Chelsea at Wembley, Eric Cantona becoming the first player to score two penalties in a final, while Mark Hughes and Brian McClair scored the third and fourth goals respectively.

United also came within one victory of an unprecendented treble but were denied a unique place in the history books as Aston Villa beat them 3-1 in the League Cup final, Mark Hughes scoring United's only goal.

Earlier in the season United had triumphed in the Charity Shield with a penalty shoot-out win over Arsenal, after Ian Wright had cancelled out Mark Hughes' goal for United.

The challenge for European honours was halted in the second round when Turkey's Galatasaray beat United on the away goals rule after a 3:3 draw at Old Trafford followed by a 0:0 draw in Istanbul.

Bryan Robson ended a glorious 13-year association with United by accepting the player-manager role at First Division Middlebrough. Robson played 456 matches for United, scoring 99 competitive goals. Other personnel also moved on with Clayton Blackmore, Mike Phelan, Les Sealey, Brian Carey, Darren Ferguson, Lee Martin and Danny Walace departing Old Trafford. The end of the season saw the arrival of defender David May from Blackburn Rovers and Graeme Tomlinson from Bradford City.

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1994 - 1995: So close yet so far!

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:39 am

The Charity Shield was retained at the start of the season with a 2-0 win over Blackburn Rovers, with Cantona and Ince scoring the goals. The season was overshadowed hoever by controversy off the pitch. In January Eric Cantona was banned by the the FA for 9 months for the for attacking a spectator after being sent off at Crystal Palace. A jail sentence was overturned on appeal to community service.

Despite this crippling set back United came within two wins of a second double. On the last day of the league season United could only draw at West Ham and lost out on the Championship to Blackburn by a single point, finishing with 88 points and 77 goals scored.

Records galore were created as United thrashed Ipswich Town 9-0 in the Premiership. Andy Cole scoring a club league record five goals in one match and it was the club's highest score as Manchester United.

The League Cup was used to blood some of the club's younger players for which they were heavily criticised. They were to lost in the third round to Newcastle but a year later many of the same players were to take centre stage in United's second

A week after losing the league United played the FA Cup final for the second successive season only to lose 1-0 to Everton. The European Champions League campaign ended in disappointment as United failed to progress beyond the group stages, heavy defeats at Barcelona and Gothenburg proving crucial.

The major transfer of the season came in early January as United made a major transfer scoop by signing striker Andy Cole from Newcastle United for a record £7M. Keith Gillespie moved in part exchange as part of the deal. Dion Dublin joined Coventry City in September and Colin McKee and Neil Whitworth both left for Kilmarnock. The shock departures came at the end of the season with Paul Ince to Inter Milan, Mark Hughes to Chelsea and Andrei Kanchelskis to Everton. Gary Walsh left just before the start of the season joining his old team-mate Bryan Robson at Middlesbrough.

Some silverware did come to Old Trafford as the United youngsters won the FA Youth Cup in a thrilling final with Tottenham Hotspur. The first leg ended 2-1 to Tottenham, but a lost-gasp Terry Cooke goal at Old Trafford sent the return game into extra time. There were no further goals and United won the penalty shoot-out 4-3 in front of over 20,000 fans. Director Bobby Charlton was knighted for his services to football and Alex Ferguson received a CBE in the Honours list. Plans were announced to demolish the North Stand and replace it with a 26,000 seater three-tier structure.

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1995 - 1996: The Double Double!

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:40 am

A season which started off poorly ended with history being made. An opening day 3-1 defeat at Aston Villa left the critics writing United off, expecially in the light close-season transfers. No big players were bought in to replace the stars who had departed United, instead Alex Ferguson put his faith in homebred youngsters like Nicky Butt, Gary Neville, David Beckham and Paul Scholes. That coupled with the return of talisman Eric Cantona gave United a solid platform from which to relaunch their domination of English football.

However by Christmas Newcastle United had established a dominanant 12-point lead over the Reds and looked uncatchable. However, a remarkable run in the New Year saw United lose only two games from twenty-four as Newcastle were overhauled in April.

A 3-0 win at Middlesbrough on the final day of the league Campaign ensured United were Champions for the tenth time, but more remarkably they also became the first club to win the League and Cup double twice. Liverpool were defeated 1-0 in the final with Eric Cantona, captain for the day, scoring the winning goal four minutes from the end of normal time. It was the ninth time United had won the FA Cup and surely Alex Ferguson's finest hour as his gamble on youth paid the ultimate dividend.

Earlier in the season there had been a shock exit from the League Cup with a second round aggregate defeat by second division York City. The UEFA Cup bid also ended at the first hurdle, with an away-goals aggregate reverse against Rotor Volgograd, even though Peter Schmeichel did score to help United retain their United beaten home record in Europe.

The new North Stand was opened for the visit of Nottingham Forest in April increasing the all-seater capacity of Old Trafford to 55,000. Record receipts were established for the visit of Southampton in the FA Cup sixth round, £576,494.50. The summer saw five matches staged at Old Trafford as part of Euro 96. It was a quiet season on the transfer front with the only major purchase that of Tony Coton from Manchester City. However, the close-season saw a flurry of activity. Lee Sharpe moved to Leeds United, Paul Parker was released on free transfer, Steve Bruce joined Birmingham City on a free transfer and Tony Coton left for Sunderland, while Dutch goalkeeper Raimond van der Gouw from Vitesse Arnhem, Ronny Johnsen from Besiktas, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer from Molde, Karel Poborsky from Slavia Prague and Jordi Cruyff from Barcelona all joined.

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1996 - 1997: Fourth Championship in five years

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:40 am

Manchester United began the new season as they had ended the last, by winning silverware. In a spectacular opening day display in the Charity Shield at Wembley, United overwhelmed Newcastle 4:0. Their defence of the Premiership saw them power to the top as early as the opening day. Come September their attentions turned to the European Cup and despite suffering an early setback with defeat at Juventus they went on to win their next two games. However defeat at home to Fenerbahce - their first in Europe at Old Trafford - followed by another against Juventus put their hopes of qualifying for the Quarter Finals in serious doubt. However their third win of the group stages against Rapid Vienna was enough to see them into the final stages for the first time under Alex Ferguson.

Meanwhile in the league United suffered an alarming dip in form as they slumped to comprehensive defeats at Newcastle and Southampton. However they rediscovered the winning touch in December and without the distraction of the Champions League they began working their way back to the top of the table where they were to stay for the rest of the season, retaining their crown with two games to spare.

Their European quest recommenced in March with a stunning 4:0 demolition of Porto at Old Trafford assuring their progression into the semi-final where they met German champions Dortmund. A 1:0 defeat in Germany was compounded by an early Lars Ricken goal in the second leg. United staged a rousing comeback but were unable to breach the stubborn Dortmund defence and fell short of their first European Cup final since 1968.

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1997 - 1998: A year of frustration at Old Trafford

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:40 am

United retained the Charity Shield at the beginning of the season with a penalty shoot-out win over Chelsea at Wembley. The league season began with a 2:0 win at Tottenham but United struggled to find form in the opening weeks of the season. However come October United were firing on all cylinders with comprehensive home wins of Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday, 7:0 and 6:1 respectively. By Christmas United had opened up a commanding league at the top of the table with no realistic challengers to their crown emerging.

However in the new year United were to falter due to a mix of injuries and complacency. And from the chasing pack Arsenal were to emerge as a serious threat. Combining rigid defending with pace and power up front the Gunners closed the gap at the top as United suffered surprise defeats at Coventry, Southampton and Leicester. As the goals dried up and injuries escalated United suffered a desicive home defeat to Arsenal, one from which they never really recovered as the London club overtook them to take the Championship.

In the European Cup United proved their quality on the highest stage in the initial group round as they won 5 of their 6 games, which included a memorable 3:2 win over Italian giants Juventus at Old Trafford. Come March and the quarter-final with Monaco, United were a shadow of the team they had been 4 months earlier. Injuries took their toll again in the second leg, after a scoreless first leg, as Monaco went through on away goals after a 1:1 draw.

Elimination was a bitter blow to United who for only the second time this decade finished the season empty-handed. The rebuilding for next season began early however with United smashing their transfer record by investing £10M in Dutch defender Jaap Stam.

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1998 - 1999: The Treble!

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:41 am

The greatest season in Manchester United's history as they achieved an unprecedented Treble, lifting the Premiership Championship, FA Cup and European Cup all in the space on 10 incredible days in May 1999.

The title race went right to the wire this year, with United and defending Champions Arsenal staying neck and neck right through the closing weeks of the season. On the final day of the league season, the first part of the historic treble was completed as Manchester United won the Premiership title with a victory over Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford, pipping the Gunners to top spot by a single point.

Things started badly though, Old Trafford was stunned when Les Ferdinand lobbed Peter Schmeichel to score the opening goal for Tottenham. The Reds fought back, however, and a David Beckham strike drew the scores level before half-time.

Andy Cole came on for Teddy Sheringham in the second-half and within minutes he was in behind the Spurs defence to lob Ian Walker and score the goal that won the Premiership title for Manchester United.

The second stage of the Treble was completed a week later as Manchester United comfortably beat a lifeless Newcastle United in the FA Cup Final. A week earlier United had secured the Championship and now had their eye on a third double in five years.

Captain Roy Keane limped off injured after just 5 minutes but substitute Teddy Sheringham was to have a big impact, scoring the opening goal with virtually his first touch.

United were always comfortable in the match and when Paul Scholes fired in the second goal after the interval, the final result was never in doubt. The United players celebrated the Double, but they still had the small matter of a European Cup final four days later!

United's route to their first European Cup final since 1968 was a rollercoaster ride with a host of memorable games against some of Europe's biggest clubs. United traversed the group of death in the opening stages of the competition, qualifying unbeaten from a quartet of Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Brondby.

In the quarter-finals the Reds beat Inter Milan 2:0 at Old Trafford and in the second leg in the San Siro, they secured their place in the semi-finals be grafting out a hard fought 1:1 draw. In the semis the Reds were faced with the challenge of overcoming the team which had so often in the recent past been a thorn in their side in Europe - Juventus.

In the first leg at Old Trafford, Juventus had the better of preceedings, scoring first through Conte but in the dying minutes, Ryan Giggs produced a big goal for Manchester United, vollying an equaliser past Peruzzi to keep United's hopes alive going into the second leg.

Two weeks later in the Stadio Delli Alpi, Manchester United produced one of the greatest comebacks in European Cup history. 2:0 down on the night after only 10 minutes, United's European hopes looked dead and buried. But a remarkable fightback, led by Roy Keane, saw the Reds pull it back to 2:2 and then win the game and the tie in the closing minutes with a goal from Andy Cole.

United were through to their first European Cup final since 1968, to be played in Barcelona on what would have been Sir Matt Busby's 90th birthday.

The semi-final against Juventus had been dramatic, but nothing could match the drama in the Nou Camp on 26th May, 1999. The match started in the worst possible way as Bayern Munich took the lead with a free-kick from Mario Basler. United fought back valiantly, but against a well organised Bayern defence they just couldn't find a way through.

As the minutes on the clock ticked away, Alex Ferguson introduced Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to the United attack. It would prove to be an inspired double substitution.

In injury time, goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, playing his last game for the club, came forward for a corner. His presence in the box caused panic in the Bayern defence allowing Ryan Giggs to get in a shot which Sheringham directed into the net.

The whole game was turned on its head as United, only seconds away from defeat, lived again.

But it wasn't over yet.

A minute later United won another corner. David Beckham swung the ball into the near post where Sheringham's header was met by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who flicked the ball into the roof of the net.

The Manchester United players, staff and fans were in dreamland as they won the European Cup in the most incredible circumstances ever seen. Two goals in injury time had turned defeat into the most unlikely of victories and made possible the first ever Treble.

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1999 - 2000 : Following on from the Treble!

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:42 am

Following the unprecedented successes of 1998-99 was never going to be easy. Defending three trophies is a mammoth task for any team, even for Manchester United.
In the end, the Reds never even had the chance to defend the FA Cup as they bowed to FA pressure and participated in the inaugural World Club Championship in Brazil with mixed results.

The defence of the European Cup was to end in disappointment at the hands of eventual winners Real Madrid. However, there were plenty of high points to remember as the Premiership was retained and the World Club Cup took pride of place in the Old Trafford trophy room!

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2000 - 2001 : Three in a row!

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:43 am

Manchester United's domestic dominance reigned supreme in 2000-01 as they stormed to a record third Premiership title in a row. The Red's march to the championship was relentless from the very first day of the campaign as they kept a firm grip on the prize which has hardly left the Old Trafford trophy cabinet in the last nine years.
Sadly United's European fortunes were to be less memorable as they fell at the quarter-finals hurdle again, this time losing to eventual Champions Bayern Munich who exacted some small revenge for that famous night in Barcelona two years earlier.

The Red's return to the FA Cup was also to end in disappointment as West Ham produced the shock of the season by winning at Old Trafford with a bizarre goal from Paolo Di Canio.

Overall, however, those two failures did little to take the gloss off another superb Premiership season for Manchester United.

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2001 - 2002 : Arsenal get a go

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:43 am

2001-02 saw Arsenal end Manchester United's domestic dominance by winning the League and FA Cup double and leaving United empty handed for only the third time in 11 seasons.
The season began with great optimism as United went on a pre-season spending spree. Firstly Dutch striker Ruud Van Nistelrooy was recruited from PSV Eindhoven for a record breaking £19 million. That record did not last long, however, as only weeks later United paid Lazio a wopping £28 million for Argentine playmaker Juan Sebastian Veron.

It was hoped both players would give United an extra edge to not only remain dominant in England but also conquer Europe again and bring home an elusive third European Cup.

It was not to be.

An inspired Arsenal were too strong for United over the course of the Premiership season and as the Reds stuttered towards the finishing line, the Gunners were in irresistable form, finishing worthy champions.

Defeat in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup added to United's disappointment but it was the away goals defeat to Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions' League semi-final that was the bitterest pill to swallow.

One of the few highlights of a season to forget was Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to shelve his retirement plans and remain as Old Trafford supremo. There was much rebuilding to be done, however, if United were to reclaim their Premiership crown from Arsenal.

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