MANCHESTER UNITED :: Champion of Europe ::

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    Re: MANCHESTER UNITED :: Champion of Europe ::

    Post by king_diamond on Sat 23 May 2009, 3:38 am

    I had to stay off school initially but the broken arm did not prevent me from going to watch United at Old Trafford nor from getting my ticket for the home tie for the European Cup tie against Dukla which was now less than a week away. On Saturday November 16th, I went to watch United play Sheffield Wednesday at Old Trafford and the team scraped a win by 2-1 with Colin Webster, who was standing in for the injured Dennis Viollet, scoring both goals. It was also a day when United pulled a point back on both the Wolves and West Brom as they had played each other that afternoon and had drawn 1-1. Preston had also beaten Leicester City by 3-1 and had leap frogged over United on goal difference. Going into the European tie that week, Wolves were top with 27 points from 18 games, West Brom were second with 25 points from the 18 games, and North End and United were third and fourth respectively with 22 points from 17 games. The United fans were not worried as the team had a game in hand and all three clubs above them, still had to play United at Old Trafford!

    After the game against Wednesday had finished, I hung around outside the main entrance for some time. Eventually, the United players began to emerge from behind the big wooden doors and I asked each one of them as they appeared, to sign the white plaster cast engulfing my left arm. Little Johnny Berry was most inquisitive as to how I had come by the injury, as was David Pegg. David knew me from seeing him at the Galleon Swimming Baths in Didsbury during those late summer months as did Billy Whelan, Tommy Taylor, Bob Charlton, and Little Eddie. Nobody refused an autograph and I just wished that I still had that plaster cast today!

    European fever began to engulf Manchester again as the game against the Czech champions loomed large. Not much was known about them and certainly, we hadn’t heard very much about any of their players. Most of the fans were confident that United would go through easily. However, looking back, the team had been conceding too many easy goals and this fixture was a potential banana skin. For most of the players back then, they too knew little or nothing about their opposition and the would see them for the first time when they played them. Mum and Dad allowed me to go to the match and I can recall that it was a bitterly cold day. They had gotten hold of a second hand duffle coat for me and I was more than greatful to have this as I made the journey to Old Trafford. I left home about 4:30p.m. in order to avoid the congestion on the buses as there would be difficulty gewtting on one due to the rush hour and people wanting to get to Old Trafford. It was also dark and I caught the 49 from All Saints. By the time the bus had reached Trafford Bar it was jammed full of people some virtually standing nose to nose. The Conductor had difficulty getting up and down the bus as he tried to collect fare sand punch tickets. At Warwick Road there was a mass exodus off the bus as people alighted to walk down this famous thouroughfare.

    The night was cold, dark, and the stars were already shining like glimmering crystals in the sky as the fans made their way towards the ground. There was a muted murmur which within the next hour or so would become louder and louder with the incessant chatter as the fans multiplied in numbers and sound of feet marching upon the stone cobbles. Back then, there was none of the vendors stalls around that you see today, and there was no souvenier shop at all. Newspaper sellers were in abundance though and you could here their pitches as they shouted out which newspaper they were offering, the News or the Chron. I made my way around to United Road and stood across from the two towering chimneys that stood in the Glover’s Cables site. White smoke billowed straight up into the night sky as I took my place in the short line that had begun to form outside of the “Junior’s” gate. At 5:45p.m. a huge cheer went up from around the outside of the ground as the fans forming the queues by their respective turnstiles vented their pleasure as the floodlights were switched on. At 6p.m. the gates were opened and another cheer rent the air. the steady clicking of the rotating turnstiles could be heard as fans ushered inside and the cries of the programme sellers were also heard. From the little stalls inside the Popular Stand, the smell of Oxo and Bovril lingered in your nostrils as the occupants did a steady and brisk trade. I collected my programme and made my way through the tunnel which led inside the ground. It was adjacent to the halfway line and the player’s tunnel on the opposite side of the ground. I walked around to the Scoreboard End and took my place against the white picket fence immediately behind the centre of the goal.

    The ground filled steadily, Jack Irons the United mascot appeared and began his walk around the pitch, perennial cigarette in his hand. The Beswick Prize Band arrived and started to set up just opposite the main stand and player’s tunnel. A big roar went up on the Popular Side as a man with an artificial leg, dressed in a red shirt and white shorts began sprinting up and down the touchline. The band played, the crowd grew in size and the expectation, anticipation, and eagerness to see United do well, added to the atmosphere. 60,000 were in the stadium as on 7:20p.m. the two teams marched out from the tunnel. As was the usual in those days, after the preliminaries, the United team went to the Scoreboard End. The ususal trio of Colman, Blanchflower, and Edward were over to my right in front of the Popular Stand and were joined by the young United mascot with the white number 6 on the back of his red shirt. The forwards fired in balls at ray Wood as Roger Byrne and Bill Foulkes played a ball up and down the touchline in front of the Old Trafford Paddock. United were without the still injured Dennis Viollet that evening and lined up: Wood; Foulkes, Byrne; Colman, Blanchflower, Edwards; Berry, Whelan, Taylor, Webster and Pegg.

    Dukla proved to be a very stubborn and obdurate team and were very physical with it too. They strangled the game in midfield and were very difficult to break down. This wasn’t going to be easy and there would be no goal feast as there had been against Shamrock. The Czechs were very disciplined, organized, and had a lot of gamesmanship in their locker. At half time there had been no breakthrough and we had seen nothing of a threat from Dukla at all – surely they were not going to sit back in the second half? Unfortunately, that did seem to be their plan! United surged forward towards the Scoreboard End where I was standing, and with an hour gone the game was still deadlocked. Both Berry and Pegg were seeing plenty of the ball as Bill Whelan sprayed the ball into their paths. Taylor and Webster were making runs but the final ball through to them was just not falling for them. A toe poke here, a body in the way there, a hoofed hurried clearance – it just didn’t look as though United were going to have any luck at all. On 65 minutes, David Pegg got the ball out on United’s left hand side and as the big Czech full back made for him, he played in a hopeful first time cross. The ball ballooned into the air of the approaching full back and Tommy taylor challenged for it succeeding in knocking it down into Colin Webster’s path. The little Welshman gleefully slammed the ball past the ‘keeper and into the back of the net. The deadlock was broken, United had the lead, and a huge roar of relief erupted from the crowd.

    Dukla now had to come out of their defensive shell if they wanted to get anything from the game. They did so and they began to leave more room between the midfield and their defence which United began to exploit. Roared on by the fans United began to exert even more pressure. In the 75th minute United won a corner over on their right and Johnny Berry whipped it in low around thigh height. It zipped into the area between the penalty spot and six yard line and suddenly there was a blur of movement as big Tommy Taylor threw himself headlong in front of his marker to connect with the ball and it flew beyond the ‘keeper into the net. 2-0 – game over and a nice lead to take to Prague. Things got even better just two minutes later as Whelan robbed a Czech player in mid field, saw Pegg making a run inside, and delivered the most telling of balls to him and the young Yorkshireman hit the ball first time into the back of the net. 3-0 – and so it stayed until the final whistle. As the fans streamed out of the ground everybody was confident that 3 goals was more than enough to take them through in the next leg and into the semi-final. There was a divided opinion of whom the fans wanted to meet in the semi final, but the consensus was real Madrid. Both the team and the fans were still smarting from the previous season’s defeat by the Spaniards and they wanted to rectify it – the sooner the better!

    The Saturday after the Dukla game, United had to travel to St. James’ park in Newcastle for a potentially tricky League game. Viollet was still not fit and Berry had taken a knock in the European game so Scanlon came in for him, and Webster continued at inside left. Almost 54,000 saw the magpies go down to a 2-1 defeat with Duncan Edwards and Tommy Taylor’s goals seeing United claim the two points. Wolves beat Manchester City 4-3, West Brom beat Sunderland 3-0, and North End beat Bolton 3-0 to leave the top of the First Division unchanged.

    November 30 was the last Saturday in the month and United had a home fixture with ‘Spurs. Ray Wood had taken a knock at Newcastle and was replaced by 17 years old David Gaskell. Berry was still not fit and Scanlon continued at outside right. Tommy Taylor had also taken a knock an so Colin Webster moved to centre forward with Bob Charlton coming in at inside left. Busby had one eye on the following week’s second leg European tie in Prague and was taking no chances with players reporting these slight knocks. United hit ‘Spurs for three that afternoon with Pegg scoring twice and Whelan once. Unfortunately, young Gaskell made a couple of elementary mistakes as his nerves showed and this helped ‘Spurs score four times. It was a big setback and one that already had Busby thinking about changing the make-up of his young team. West Brom drew that afternoon and United had missed the chance to claw back some of their lead. Preston had also drawn and moved a point in front of United, but the worrying thing was that Wolves had won again beating Burnley 2-1 and so stretching their lead to seven points. Busby saw it as a missed opportunity, and certainly didn’t want Wolves’ lead getting any larger.

    United flew off to Prague on the Monday morning in good spirits. However, Jackie Blanchflower had picked up an injury in the ‘Spurs game and was unfit. Little was the so popular Irishman to know at that time, that he had played his last first team game in United’s famous red shirt. Mark Jones came back into the team after a lengthy absence, but there was little to choose between the contrasting styles of both centre halves and his return in no way weakened United’s young team. Berry was still not fit so Scanlon continued in his place. Taylor was back though and he resumed at centre forward with Webster moving to inside left at the expense of Bob Charlton. The game was played on the Wednesday afternoon of December 4th 1957, and United lined up; Wood; Foulkes, Byrne; Colman, Jones, Edwards; Scanlon, Whelan, Taylor, Webster and Pegg.

    The game itself was played at the Strahov Stadium in Prague and was probably the poorest performance by a United team in the European competition so far. They never really functioned and fell behind to a goal from Dvorack just after the quarter hour. However, United squandered a hatful of chances, throughout the game and when the final whistle blew with the score still 1-0 to Dukla, Busby was not a happy man. He didn’t lambast them at all after the game, but in his own mind he knew that eventually, if the team didn’t improve on their current performances, he was going to have to make some big changes if they were going to challenge for all three honours.

    For the fans, we were just so happy that another European challenge had been met successfully and we awaited with eagerness, the quarter-final draw. We were still buoyant, still had great faith in the youngsters and what we believed they could achieve, and had no doubts in their ability to overcome the seven point deficit in the League. The European draw was made and United were paired with a team named Red Star Belgrade from Yugoslavia. This team we did know something about as they had already played in England in previous years and we knew that they had some wonderful players. This tie was going to be no easy task as once again the first leg was to be played at Old Trafford in January of 1958. The Christmas period which included a “derby” match at Maine Road was going to be a crucial time in United’s bid to win a third consecutive title, and they had also drawn Workington Town away in the third round of the F.A. Cup. The “treble” was definitely “on” as far as we as fans were concerned. But little were we to know at that time the major events that were to unfold before us in the coming few months.

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    Re: MANCHESTER UNITED :: Champion of Europe ::

    Post by king_diamond on Sat 23 May 2009, 3:39 am

    Dawn of a new era

    In November 1986, Manchester United at last found and appointed a proven winner and the whole history of United took an upturn. As Aberdeen manager, Alex Ferguson had claimed every prize that Scotland had to offer, not to mention the added bonus of the European Cup Winners Cup when his team defied overwhelming odds to beat Real Madrid! He single handedly broke the “old firm” monopoly of Celtic & Rangers, sweeping all before him. Ferguson never forgot his happy time at Aberdeen and took United back there for friendlies and testimonials.

    Ferguson clearly had the talent for the job, but he also needed time to turn United round. He had inheritted a football club with little in the way of cash flow. He was told to sell to buy.The club remained patient as the Reds finished eleventh in 1986/87 and again in 1988/89. After all, the season in between, 1987/88, had offered encouraging signs as United finished second to Liverpool by winning eight and drawing two of their last ten games.

    The promise of that season, and some of the signings he had made, would soon be showing results by Mr Alex Ferguson.

    The dawn of the 1990’s saw Alex Ferguson collecting his first silverware as Manchester United manager, and Liverpool winning their last League Championship with an ageing team. The tide was turning. Dominance was now to ride her chariot travel along the East Lancs Road in the direction of Old Trafford.

    United’s 4000th game was at the City Ground Nottingham on 2nd May 1990, we got beat 4-0 before an attendance of 21186.

    Fergie’s first FA Cup, achieved after a replay against Crystal Palace, seemed at the time to be a stand-alone success, one that possibly saved his job after another poor season in the League. It seems, however, that Mark Robins winnig goal in the third round against forest and Lee Martin’s winning goal against Palace lit the fuse for an explosion of unprecedented success.

    First and foremost, winning the FA Cup in 1990 allowed United to make their return to European competition after an absence of five years. Far from being rusty, they went all the way to the final of the European Cup Winners Cup in Rotterdam where their opponents were Barcelona, the former club of United striker Mark Hughes who had left United, gone to Barcelona for 2 seasons, then a short spell at Bayern Munich before returning to United hungrier and better than ever. Two goals by Hughes sealed the match 2-1 in Fergie’s favour in May 1991, 23 years after the club’s previous triumph in Europe.

    The other long wait, for that elusive League Championship, very nearly ended in April 1992. The Reds had already won Fergie’s third trophy in March, the League Cup, and were in a two-horse race with Leeds. Liverpool were out of the running, but they still had a say in the destiny of the title, beating United 2-0 at Anfield to ruin their challenge. A player at Leeds United proved the pivot in which Leeds beat United to the Football League Title by 1 point, Eric Cantona. The 1991/92 title would be remembered in Manchester as the title that United lost, rather than the one that Leeds actually won. Leeds, after all, were not the greatest of football powers in the 1990’s and their star quality was further reduced when they allowed one of their best players, Eric Cantona, to join Manchester United in December 1992.

    Legend has it that Martin Edwards, the Chairman, was chatting in his office to Alex Ferguson when the phone rang, it was the Leeds Chairman. The Leeds Chairman wanted to buy Denis Irwin, the left back United had signed from Oldham. Ferguson wrote something on a piece of paper and passed it to Edwards. One word “Cantona”. Martin Edwards looked at Ferguson and told the Leeds Chairman that he was not selling Irwin but would be interested in purchasing Cantona for £1m. The sale was quickly agreed and the rest, as they say, is history. This was to be Leeds United’s biggest mistake in history.

    In selling Eric Cantona to Old Trafford, the Yorkshire club practically handed over the keys to the League Championship. The Frenchman brought that little extra bit of magic that had been missing from United’s previous campaigns and was an instant hit with the Mancunian faithful, scoring nine goals to help the Reds win their first title in 26 years. This was United’s first title in 26 years and Cantona’s second in a row, with two different clubs. This was also the year that saw the start of the careers of the likes of the Neville Brothers; Gary & Phil, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, David Beckham and others from the now famous class of ‘92.

    In the following season 1993/94, the team virtually picked itself en route to an historic League and FA Cup Double, with Cantona sporting the number seven shirt that had been Bryan Robson’s property for so long. The number one, meanwhile, was undoubtedly Peter Schmeichel, arguably the best goalkeeper ever seen at Old Trafford.

    Cantona’s eight-month absence from January 1995, following his clash with an insulting fan at Crystal Palace, proved to be United’s undoing as they tried to defend their Double. They lost the title by one point to Blackburn Rovers and then lost the FA Cup final by one goal to Everton. The former champions were hampered at Wembley by an injury to Steve Bruce, the brave captain who was a defensive rock in the early 1990’s. It is indicative that Cantona was held in such high esteem that fans refused to blame him for the previous season’s apparent demise.

    Bruce also missed the following year’s FA Cup Final, at the end of the 1995/96 season, but this time the result was rather different. Liverpool stood between United and a first-ever ‘Double Double’ and were holding out for extra-time, when Cantona struck home a sublime shot in the 86th minute. The French skipper had throughout the season been an inspiration to the talented young players in the team, including David Beckham and Gary Neville. United had also stopped Liverpool from the same double, relegating them to second in the league and losing finalists at Wembley.

    In May 1997, Cantona helped the club to its fourth League Championship of the decade. It was to be his last, as he surprisingly retired from football later that same month. He had become disillusioned with some of the business practises of Manchester United PLC off the field, and in the way they marketted him as a commodity and not a player. A very honest player, he could not accept this. It is worthy of note that even 10 years later, his name still resounds from the fans at Old Trafford.

    The shock waves of Eric’s decision seemed to last for a whole year, as the Reds went empty-handed in 1997/98 while Arsenal won the Double. Again, injuries to key players, especially Ryan Giggs and Roy Keane were cited for United’s downfall. Again, the fans did not blame Eric.

    The influence that Giggs could have on results was never more apparent than in the 1998/99 FA Cup semi-final replay, when he scored perhaps the goal of the decade – a solo run and finish that left Arsenal’s defenders grasping at thin air. He collected a stray pass from an Arsenal player, prossibly Bergkamp and took off on a mazy run that saw him dribble passed defender after defender before lofting the ball, over Seaman in goal, into the far side of the goal from the left. Peter Schmeichel also saved a penalty from Bergkamp after Phil Neville was ruled to have committed a foul in the penalty area. It booked United’s place in their fifth FA Cup final of the 1990’s, and this time they won it, beating Newcastle United 2-0 with goals by Paul Scholes and substitute Teddy Sheringham. Argueably the easiest final United ever played in. Newcastle, with Shearer up front, never looked like troubling Manchester at all during the entire 90 minutes. It could have been a lot more goals than the two scored.

    That result clinched United’s third Double, six days after the Premiership title had been wrapped by Andy Cole’s goal against Tottenham at Old Trafford. But still there was more to come from a remarkable campaign.

    After an epic Champions League semi-final against Juventus, when Keane inspired the team to fight back from 2-0 down in the second leg, scoring a fabilous header for the first goal, United marched into an epic final against Bayern Munich in Barcelona. Although Roy Keane had been booked in this game, knowing it would mean he would not be playing in the final, he inspired United throughout and was possibly the greatest example for a captain ever seen on a football field.

    United’s attempts to win the European Cup for the first time since 1968 looked to be doomed when Bayern took an early lead through Mario Basler and defended it with typical German resilience. But then, in injury time, following a double substitution of Teddy Sheringham & Ole Gunnar Solskjaer late in the game, the Reds produced one of the most stunning revivals in sporting history – Sheringham equalised, turning in a shot by Giggs and and moments later his fellow substitute Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fired in the winner, from a Sheringham nod on, from a Beckham corner, to make the score 2-1. United had won the Treble; their manager Alex Ferguson was subsequently knighted as his fans around the globe basked in the glory. The Bayern Munich players were reduced to kneeling on the grass, heads on the surface, banging fists into the ground.

    The Treble became a Quadruple later in the year when Sir Alex Ferguson’s men travelled to Tokyo to compete for the Inter-Continental Cup. Keane’s goal against Palmeiras of Brazil bestowed upon United the title of World Club Champions. Officially, at the end of the millennium, the biggest football club in the world had also become the best in the world! Could Ferguson carry on into the 21st Century?

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    Re: MANCHESTER UNITED :: Champion of Europe ::

    Post by king_diamond on Sat 23 May 2009, 3:41 am

    2000 - 2008

    Manchester United started the new decade, century and millennium in typical pioneering fashion. They entered a brand new competition – the FIFA Club World Championship in Brazil – but at the expense of their participation in the FA Cup, of which they were the holders. A controversial issue at the time. The Government had been approached by FIFA to provide a team for this competition, but the dates involved clashed with the domestic FA cup. It was decided to ask United to forego their place in the cup in favour of the competition, as ambassadors for England. The storm that followed ensured the backing away of the government, leaving United, alone, to take the ensuing flak from the media. Darlington were the team selected at random to fill United’s position in round 3.

    The January jaunt to South America didn’t result in any silverware – beating the Brazilian sides in their own backyard and stifling climate was a bridge too far – but it gave the Reds valuable relaxation time in the sun. Rejuvenated by this, they raced ahead of their rivals in the title race when they returned to England. They achieved their sixth Premiership title early, in April, and still without a convincing replacement for Peter Schmeichel.

    Several goalkeepers including Mark Bosnich tried and failed to establish themselves during the 1999/2000 season. So it was hardly surprising when Fabien Barthez joined United in July 2000, fresh from adding the European Championships crown to his World Cup winners medal.

    The eccentric but brilliant French goalkeeper helped United to win their third successive title in 2000/01, a feat that had previously been achieved by only a handful of clubs in England. Liverpool had been the last team to do it, in 1982, 1983 and 1984, but this was under the supervision of two different managers – Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan.

    Sir Alex Ferguson had been at the helm for all three of United’s back-to-back titles, and was therefore the first manager in English football to achieve the hat-trick. On the back of this latest trophy, Fergie announced he would be retiring from management at the end of the 2001/02 season. Meanwhile, his right-hand man Steve McClaren announced he would be leaving immediately to replace Bryan Robson as Middlesbrough manager. (McClaren went to to manage England in 2006/7, but only survived a short time).

    Ferguson filled the gap left by McClaren by promoting ex-players Jim Ryan and Mike Phelan to the posts of assistant manager and first team coach respectively. But Sir Alex then created another troublesome void by offloading star defender Jaap Stam to Lazio in a transfer that took everyone by surprise, including the player! This was due to comments made in a book recently published, and Ferguson took offence and, within hours, had sold Stam.

    One of Barthez’s World Cup-winning team-mates, Laurent Blanc, joined United on a free transfer to play in Stam’s position and forge a new partnership with Wes Brown, Gary Neville or Ronny Johnsen. Many people assumed Blanc would be Fergie’s last signing as United manager, especially after the expensive acquisitions of Ruud van Nistelrooy and Juan Sebastian Veron. But Sir Alex splashed the cash again in January 2002, to sign Uruguayan striker Diego Forlan from Independiente.

    It was difficult to see where Forlan would fit in, given that van Nistelrooy had just set a new Premiership record by scoring in eight consecutive league games. United had won all those games to rejoin the title race, having previously lost more matches (six by early December) than was usual for their trail-blazing standards. Forlan was never going to settle into the squad and played a peripheral role for a couple of years before being sold to Villarreal where he won the golden boot!! Fate is a strange bedfellow! His main claim to fame, and for which he will always be fondly remembered by United fans, is the two goals he scored at Anfield against liverpool.

    Manchester United went on to win that year, and claimed the 2002/03 Title. Next Season , two of arguably the best midfielders in the world, Juan Sebastian Veron, midfield star of Argentina, and David Beckham left the club for London and Madrid making many fans angry with their manager. Ferguson had become annoyed at the media circus that always surrounded Beckham, in particular when he courted and married former Spice Girl, pop star, “Posh” Spice. His decision, in hindsight, was spot on, as David Beckham was becoming faded on the field, only producing his expertise in sporadic moments in the odd game. His replacement was soon to turn the spotlight well and truly full on Old Trafford again.

    United however tried to infuse fresh players into the squad, with the addition of wonderkid Ronaldo from Sporting Lisbon, replacement for David Beckham and the new incumbent of the famous 7 Shirt; a confident midfielder in Djemba-Djemba and Kleberson, not to mention the safe hands of American keeper Tim Howard. Although Djemba Djemba and Kleberson failed to impress and soon left the club.

    The 2003/04 Season belonged to Arsenal and United finished a distant third falling behind Chelsea. This was the lowest United had ever been at the end of a Premiership season. United have also failed to impress in the CL, losing to Porto and Milan in the knockout phases and finishing at the bottom of the group phase in successive seasons.

    Since then, Chelsea had “bought” their way to two back to back titles, in 2004/05 and 2005/06 with the aquisition of Chelsea by Russian Billionaire, Roman Abramovitch. Their titles were sour, many fans pouring scorn on a club that had completely bought practically two whole teams “off the shelf”. During this time United raided Everton for one of their young up and coming goal scoring machines, Wayne Rooney.

    The season 2006/2007 saw the tables turned with United having an excellent domestic season winning the Premiership title again. But in Europe, AC Milan knocked United out in the Semi finals. This season also marked 20 years of Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford. United signed Anderson, a Brazilian midfielder, England International Owen Hargreaves from Bayern Munich and Nani, a young left winger, from Sporting Lisbon.

    Season 2007/2008 became underway with United having a slow start before gaining momentum, topping the league in October. United actually conceded no goals in the league in September. Chelsea, or Chelski as they became unofficially known could not keep up the chase and Abramovitch, to the surprise of many, parted company with his manager and appointed relatively unknown Israeli to the position. At this point Chelsea visited Old Trafford and lost 2-0. Arsenal were the early front runners heading towards Christmas. United currently have 20 internationals in their line up.

    The 5000th game for United was on 8th December 2007 v Derby County at Old Trafford. United won 4-1.

    At the turning point of the year a win against West Ham at Upton Park would have seen us cross into 2008 on top of the Premiership, unfortunately we went down 2-1 after being 1-0 up. Arsenal won pushing United off top slot. In the third round of the FA cup United travelled to Villa Park and came away with a 2-0 win.

    In the 4th Round of the FA Cup, United beat Spurs 3-1 and, in the 5th Round beat Arsenal 4-0. Portsmouth came to Old Trafford in the Quarter finals and went home with a ticket for the semi final in their pockets after beating United 1-0. Portsmouth went to to reach Wembley with Cardiff.

    Meanwhile in the league, United made a few milestones of their own with a 100% record in the league, with no goals conceded. In February United started with a 1-1 draw against Spurs followed by Manchester city completing a double, a very rare event, with a 2-1 win at Old Trafford. After seeing off Spurs in the Fa Cup and drawing away at Lyon in the Champions League, United finished the month in great style with a 5-1 drubbing of Newcastle on their own turf.

    March again saw United conceding no goals in the league; the third such month this season. Fulham away 3-0; Derby away 1-0; Bolton at home 2-0 and Liverpool (a double) and 3-0. United finished off the season by beating improving Aston Villa 4-0 at home. April started off with a 2-0 win away at Roma in the quarter final of the Champions League and United began to appear to be unstoppable. But a 2-2 draw away at Middlesbrough brought them down to earth with a bump in a game United can consider themselves lucky to have gained a point from. Roma at home 1-0 and Arsenal 2-1 followed by Blackburn away 1-1 saw United continue along the top of the Premiership.

    In the Champions League United visited Barcelona in the semi final (the other semi final was between Chelsea and Liverpool). Barcelona dominated the game but it ended up 0-0. 3 days later, an early kick off on Saturday lunchtime saw United going down 2-1 at Chelsea to bring the two teams level on points. United’s much bigger goal difference keeping them on top slot. Barcelona came to Old Trafford on the following Tuesday evening and United took a lead via Paul Scholes in the 15th minute against the run of play it must be said …. at half time United led by that solitary goal. Barcelona had the lions share of the half. In the second half Barcelona threw everything at United but the defence stood solid and Paul Schole’s goal was the nail in Barcalona’s coffin. United travelled to Moscow for a first time all england, all premiership, final!

    The game went pretty much according to predictions. Both teams kept it tight, United went ahead in the first half thanks to a goal from Ronaldo. Lampard equalised on the stroke of half time and, after extra time, the game went into penalties. Ronaldo, of all people, missed for United but John Terry, slipped as he was about to convert the winning penalty and sliced it wide right. Sudden death penalties and Anelka had his shot saved by Van der Sar to see Manchester United lift their third European Cup. Due to Health & Safety fears of the council, United’s intended parade through Manchester was cancelled and the team were spirited away from the airport into the night leaving thousands of fans at the airport.

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    Re: MANCHESTER UNITED :: Champion of Europe ::

    Post by king_diamond on Sat 23 May 2009, 3:45 am


    Sir Alex Ferguson 5 Worst Signings!


    Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson is undoubtedly a legend in the world of football managers, but even the great Scot has signed some players that have given the Old Trafford faithful nightmares. Luckily for us as United fans his judgement has been good on the majority of his signings. Here is a list of some of those United signings that Sir Alex would rather forget.

    1. Massimo Taibi
    The Italian goalkeeper arrived at Manchester United from Venezia for £4.4million in 1999 and made his debut against Liverpool, in which he made a high profile gaffe allowing Sami Hyypia to score, but he also made some excellent saves and went onto to claim man of the match, unfortunately that was as good as it was going to get for the Italian. He then made an awful error against Southampton’ Matt Le Tissier, which lead to him being nicknamed ‘The Blind Venetian’. He only made four appearances for United and one of them resulted in a heavy 5-0 defeat to Chelsea, he was transferred to Reggina in 2000 and it wasn’t a minute too soon for the Red Devils fans.

    2. Juan Sebastian Veron
    In 2001 Manchester United acquired the Argentinean midfield playmaker for a record fee of £28.1 million from Italian side Lazio. He was a big signing for United fans, as they had seen his star displays in a Lazio shirt. The midfielder had trouble adapting to the pace of the English game, as he wasn’t allowed the same space and time on the ball that he was given in Serie A. There were questions asked about his temperament, as he was label lazy and in the end his performances resulted in him being offloaded to Chelsea in 2003 for half the record fee.

    3. Diego Forlan
    When Diego Forlan arrived at United in 2002 from Club Atlético Independiente for £6.9 million, he was rated as one of the hottest young South American strikers, when left he was labelled ‘Diego Forlorn’. This harsh nickname was given to him after it took him 27 games and eight months to score his first goal for the club. He only scored 10 goals in 63 Premier league appearances. In 2004 the Uruguayan was transferred to Spanish La Liga side Villarreal, where he has became a regular scorer and a star player.

    4. José Kléberson Pereira (Kleberson)
    Manchester United signed Brazilian World Cup winner Kleberson in 2003 from Atletico Paranaense for a fee of £6.5 million. The signing came after Luis Felipe Scolari had declared that the midfielder was the driving force behind the 2002 World Cup win. Unfortunately the Brazilian suffered an injury in only his second game and struggled to make an impact at all in his 28 appearances. After just two years at the club, the player was sold to Besiktas and has never recaptured the form which made him a World Cup winner.

    5. Eric Djemba-Djemba
    The Cameroonian midfielder signed for United in 2003 for a fee of £3.5 million from French club Nantes. The player was seen as an ideal eventual replacement for Roy Keane, but couldn’t become a regular first team starter for United in a team that was changing fast. It became obvious to fans and coaching staff alike that Djemba-Djemba would never be good enough to replace the Irishman. He left for Aston Villa in 2005.

    Although the five listed above are down as bad signings, they are not the only poor signings that Sir Alex has made, the likes of the insane Fabien Barthez, the goal-shy David Bellion and the very unlucky Alan Smith. There was also the highly overrated Liam Miller who struggled to live up to his huge label as a hot prospect and the highly unlucky Dion Dublin, who only made twelve appearances in two years at Old Trafford scoring two goals.

    Written by Phil Mellor, a football writer who blogs about Manchester United at Truly Reds

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    Re: MANCHESTER UNITED :: Champion of Europe ::

    Post by king_diamond on Sat 23 May 2009, 3:48 am

    Uefa has initiated disciplinary proceedings against Chelsea, Didier Drogba and Jose Bosingwa for their behaviour in the UEFA Champions League semi-final against Barcelona.

    The European governing body has taken action following the second leg of the tie, which took place at Stamford Bridge at the beginning of May.

    Chelsea have been charged with the improper conduct of their players and for the behaviour of their fans, who are alleged to have hurled objects from the stands.

    Drogba and Bosingwa are facing possible punishment in the wake of their much-publicised, angry reactions towards match referee Tom Henning Ovrebo.

    A Uefa statement read: "The club are charged with the improper conduct of their players and the throwing of missiles by their supporters, while Drogba and Bosingwa are accused of being in breach of the principles of sportsmanship by insulting the referee by making offensive comments.

    "The club and the individuals concerned have been requested to file a statement by Friday, 29th May. The Uefa control & disciplinary body will deal with the case on 17th June."

    Barcelona went through to the final on away goals after drawing the match 1-1 but Chelsea claimed they should have had up to four penalties.


    Not really surpising that Drogba got charged, it's strange how Ballack got off with just his yellow card. I thought he surely would have been charged too.

    Drogba and Bosingwa will probably get 3-match bans and Chelsea a meagre fine for not controlling their players and fans. But who knows maybe UEFA may make an example of them

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    Re: MANCHESTER UNITED :: Champion of Europe ::

    Post by king_diamond on Sat 23 May 2009, 3:49 am

    I hardly follow Real Madrid's transfer gossip as it seems to
    be pretty similar to ours, many words, few truths, but there
    are some indications that Real Madrid will be making quite a
    few buys this summer, not that they really need any.

    So who seems to be a likely target? I assume they're looking
    at established players and not youth and the only top level
    player who seems to be on the market is Ribery, though Ibrahimovic
    could be on the market as well, judging by his recent antics.

    I did read something kurang pandai about Zidane travelling to Munich
    to convince him to go to Real but I suppose he's still a possibility.

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    Re: MANCHESTER UNITED :: Champion of Europe ::

    Post by king_diamond on Sat 23 May 2009, 3:49 am

    They need to sort out that terrible defence of theirs first and foremost. I think they'll be linked with the likes of Nemanja this summer. Obviously pure bull but the press will write anything to over the inches.

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    Re: MANCHESTER UNITED :: Champion of Europe ::

    Post by king_diamond on Sat 23 May 2009, 3:49 am

    They need to replace that loony Pepe and also Cannavaro but they are bound to splash the cash on attacking players too.

    We all know they've been chasing a certain WPOTY right-winger and now they've been linked with Valencia so them signing a winger is a certainty.

    Ruud will be back for them next season but will be another year older, as will Raul, but with Huntelaar and Higuain in the squad I'm not sure they'll feel another striker is necessary.

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    Re: MANCHESTER UNITED :: Champion of Europe ::

    Post by king_diamond on Sat 23 May 2009, 3:49 am

    I don`t understand them too, couse they need defense and they r still buying midfield and attackers. It is the same with Barselona, they have the worst goalkeeper in the world and they still keeps him.

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    Re: MANCHESTER UNITED :: Champion of Europe ::

    Post by king_diamond on Sat 23 May 2009, 3:50 am

    That's true, in a squad like Barça's Valdes stands out.

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    Re: MANCHESTER UNITED :: Champion of Europe ::

    Post by king_diamond on Sat 23 May 2009, 3:50 am

    Hyperbole ftw.

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    Re: MANCHESTER UNITED :: Champion of Europe ::

    Post by king_diamond on Sat 23 May 2009, 3:50 am

    Actually does anybody know if they will be replacing Pepe or keeping him on? I think they'll keep him.

    Ezequiel Garay will be coming in, from memory, he's 21 but highly rated so he might become a starter.

    If they keep Pepe, then he will probably partner Garay.


    A winger & an attacking central midfielder might be in order. Defenders are usually not a priority at RM.

    They should buy a CB though.

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    Re: MANCHESTER UNITED :: Champion of Europe ::

    Post by king_diamond on Sat 23 May 2009, 3:51 am

    Premier League 2008/09: Season's winners and losers - Telegraph

    THE WINNERS

    1. Manchester United
    They have won the Community Shield, the Club World Cup, the Carling Cup and the Premier League. Now for the Champions League.

    2. Roy Hodgson
    Has turned relegation fighters into potential Euro-qualifiers. Fulham have 20 more points than at this stage last season. Enough said.

    3. Manchester City
    Nothing in the trophy cabinet yet, but they are now the richest club in the world following the August takeover. They can't lose.

    4. Harry Redknapp
    Left Portsmouth for Spurs and turned a team suffering their worst start in their history into one challenging for Europe on Sunday.

    5. Ian Ashbee
    Hull's captain led his side into the Premier League to complete a unique achievement of playing in all four divisions. A true professional.

    6. David Moyes
    To his chairman he is the best manager in the world. Another European campaign and an FA Cup final on limited resources confirms his talents.

    7. Steven Gerrard
    Outstanding all season as Liverpool pushed United all the way. Rightly named the FWA Footballer of the Year.

    8. Guus Hiddink
    Walked blindly into Chelsea on a part-time basis, restored their League ambitions, reached the Champions league semi-final and the FA Cup final.

    9. Stoke and Tony Pulis
    Everybody's first choice for relegation but with Rory Delap's Exocet throw-ins they have stunned the Premier League.

    10. Ryan Giggs
    With 800 appearances under his belt and scoring in every season of the Premier League he thoroughly deserved the PFA Player of the Year.

    THE LOSERS

    1. Didier Drogba
    Suffered injuries, was banned by the authorities and the warned by police for throwing a coin – and then delivered fire and brimstone at referee Tom Ovrebo.

    2. Arsenal's fans
    They started by booing Emmanuel Adebayor, turned their vengeance on Emmanuel Eboue, they aimed then some shareholders aimed their vitriol at Arsene Wenger.

    3. Joey Barton
    Released from jail in August but started with a six-month ban. Returned briefly, then suffered knee ligament damage. After two games broke a toe and in his first game back was sent off.

    4. Luiz Felipe Scolari
    He's won the World Cup so surely he could replicate the achievements of Jose Mourinho? No, and the Brazilian walked in February.

    5. Paul Ince
    Another manager who failed to achieve. After success at Macclesfield and MK Dons, he was seen as the man to replace Mark Hughes. He lasted 17 League games.

    6. Tony Adams
    But that was two more than the former England captain, given the hapless job of taking over from Harry Redknapp at Fratton Park.

    7. Joe Kinnear
    Shock choice to replace Kevin Keegan at Newcastle, but missed opening game with an old touchline ban. The taken ill, and needed a bypass.

    8. David Bentley
    Arrived at Spurs at an inflated cost of £15 million, but failed to break into Redknapp's side and looks set to leave this summer.

    9. Mikel Arteta and Phil Jagielka
    The Everton pair had been outstanding but will both miss out on the FA Cup final with long-term injuries. Cruel.

    10. Ledley King
    Spurs club captain who apologised being arrested for alleged assault outside a nightclub, provoking Redknapp into banning booze and clubbing.

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    Re: MANCHESTER UNITED :: Champion of Europe ::

    Post by king_diamond on Sat 23 May 2009, 3:51 am

    1. Manchester United
    They have won the Community Shield, the Club World Cup, the Carling Cup and the Premier League. Now for the Champions League.

    What a season it has been! Whatever happens on Wednesday this team has already achieved so much and I hope we're all very proud of them.

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    Re: MANCHESTER UNITED :: Champion of Europe ::

    Post by king_diamond on Sat 23 May 2009, 3:51 am

    I'll add one to the winners list: Gianfranco Zola & Steve Clarke. Together they've taken West Ham up to 9th.

    Yes it's mid table but Zola's been amazing for a newcomer in a league which normally chews up rookie coaches.

    Plus their success has gone under the radar by & large.


    Other than that I'd say Drogba has had a controversial season but football wise he's been on form for sure.

    Both he & Lampard have really been playing well this season.

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    Re: MANCHESTER UNITED :: Champion of Europe ::

    Post by king_diamond on Sat 23 May 2009, 3:51 am

    Not really. 4 goals in 19 league games tends to suggest he's having a poor season. Anelka has been the stand out striker at Chelsea this season.

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    Re: MANCHESTER UNITED :: Champion of Europe ::

    Post by king_diamond on Sat 23 May 2009, 3:52 am

    That's true but you have to account for injuries plus the fact that Scholari clearly favoured Anelka.

    Once Hiddink arrived Drogba's form in the tail end of the season was quite impressive.

    By that I mean his overall performances even if he didn't grab too many goals.

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    Re: MANCHESTER UNITED :: Champion of Europe ::

    Post by king_diamond on Sat 23 May 2009, 3:52 am

    It's hard to say someone has had a good season when they've missed half of it and only started playing well in the last two months of the season, scoring only 4 goals in the process. He's missed loads of sitters when I've watched him towards the end of the season and he's been nowhere near his best.

    Scolari favoured Anelka because he was scoring for fun, he was top scorer in the league all through the season and it joint top with Ronaldo right now.

    I'm really not understanding how you can say Drogba has had a good season. He's player poorly and he's been a disgrace to himself, his club and the game as a whole.

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    Re: MANCHESTER UNITED :: Champion of Europe ::

    Post by king_diamond on Sat 23 May 2009, 3:52 am

    Good to see people like Tony Pulis and Ian Ashbee getting some recognition.

    Pulis has worked a minor miracle making Stoke a mid-table Prem side and for Ashbee to stick with Hull from division to division shows real loyalty and passion for the club, which is rare these days.

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    Re: MANCHESTER UNITED :: Champion of Europe ::

    Post by king_diamond on Sat 23 May 2009, 3:54 am

    Stoke have done really well this season, I was expecting them to struggle but they're not even close to the relegation places and I rate Pulis pretty highly. Not many teams are promoted and then manage to end the season virtually mid table. A lot has been made of Delap's throw ins, but I think there's a lot more to Stoke than that and they thoroughly deserve to be in the premier league next season.

    I'm not sure why Manchester City are in amongst the winners though. They may be the richest club in the world but they still are unable to lure the signings of the biggest players. Berbatov turned them down, so did Kaka (even when offered tons of cash), and most of the footballers linked with them just laugh off the rumours. City have a lot of money but their season has been as normal for them, mid-table mediocrety, plenty of poor performances and nothing to shout home about. While I don't think they should be in the losers list, they're not deserving of a place in the winners list on the basis of this normal season for them.

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    Re: MANCHESTER UNITED :: Champion of Europe ::

    Post by king_diamond on Sat 23 May 2009, 3:54 am

    Uefa has initiated disciplinary proceedings against Chelsea, Didier Drogba and Jose Bosingwa for their behaviour in the UEFA Champions League semi-final against Barcelona.

    The European governing body has taken action following the second leg of the tie, which took place at Stamford Bridge at the beginning of May.

    Chelsea have been charged with the improper conduct of their players and for the behaviour of their fans, who are alleged to have hurled objects from the stands.

    Drogba and Bosingwa are facing possible punishment in the wake of their much-publicised, angry reactions towards match referee Tom Henning Ovrebo.

    A Uefa statement read: "The club are charged with the improper conduct of their players and the throwing of missiles by their supporters, while Drogba and Bosingwa are accused of being in breach of the principles of sportsmanship by insulting the referee by making offensive comments.

    "The club and the individuals concerned have been requested to file a statement by Friday, 29th May. The Uefa control & disciplinary body will deal with the case on 17th June."

    Barcelona went through to the final on away goals after drawing the match 1-1 but Chelsea claimed they should have had up to four penalties.


    Not really surpising that Drogba got charged, it's strange how Ballack got off with just his yellow card. I thought he surely would have been charged too.

    Drogba and Bosingwa will probably get 3-match bans and Chelsea a meagre fine for not controlling their players and fans. But who knows maybe UEFA may make an example of them

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    Re: MANCHESTER UNITED :: Champion of Europe ::

    Post by king_diamond on Sat 23 May 2009, 3:55 am

    Can't say I'm surprised. UEFA have to follow the rules, Chelsea over-stepped them. In many ways I think Chelsea were hard-done by in the semi final and I can understand their frustrations, but you can't act how they did and expect to get away with it when there are clear rules and punishments set out for if you break them.

    Surprised Ballack didn't get something for the way he reacted towards the referee, which surely should be classed as dissent

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    Re: MANCHESTER UNITED :: Champion of Europe ::

    Post by king_diamond on Sat 23 May 2009, 3:55 am

    No surprsie Drogba getting punished by UEFA.
    I didn't know anything about Bosingwa being involved until now.

    Yeah, i'm surprised too that Ballack got away without punishment.

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    Re: MANCHESTER UNITED :: Champion of Europe ::

    Post by king_diamond on Sat 23 May 2009, 3:56 am

    Its simple. Whoever answers a question right, sets the next question and so on.

    Lets test our footballing brains. Non-United related questions please.
    We have a thread for United trivia already.
    Man Utd Trivia Thread

    Question: Name 5 players who have scored for 6 different Premiership clubs?

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    Re: MANCHESTER UNITED :: Champion of Europe ::

    Post by king_diamond on Sat 23 May 2009, 3:56 am

    Les ferdinand
    Andrew Cole

    All i can think of at the minute

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