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Date: Mon Apr 20 GMT+00:00 1998
Black Sunday not too much to say really.
REDS were nr.1 in the Premiership for over 6 mths!
your editor Barry.
2. Loss Of Duo Cost United Title (PA)
3. Ooh Aah, We Miss Ya...
Encoding: 63 TEXT
Date: Sun, 19 Apr 1998 17:14:45 +1000
Reply-To: "Manchester United Football Club (soccer)"
Sender: "Manchester United Football Club (soccer)"
From: Stephen Spencer
It's now clear Arsenal will the Premiership, and United will not become
only the third team to win the title three years in a row.
This hurts like hell to me, but before everyone goes jumping off a cliff,
it's time for a bit of a reality check.
As Pete H so memorably pointed out last year, there was time not so long
ago, B.E. (before Eric) when those of us who had been fans for longer than
five years, would have gladly done anything to have seen United win the
title just once.
The thought, even as late as 1992, that we would win four in five years
would have been grounds for admission to a mental hospital.
Now of course we get despondent because we can't win it six years in a row.
Sir Matt, the greatest of them all, only won five in his entire time as
manager, and never managed more than two in a row (although Munich
undoubtedly prevented a hat-trick and more).
Liverpool, during their amazing run of 11 titles in 18 years, only managed
a hat trick once.
Seven times they were defeated for the title, and every single time, they
bounced back and won it the following year. Their pattern was inevitably
win two, finish second, win another two, finish second.....sound familiar?
Just as it's unreal to expect even the greatest of teams to win every
match, so is it unreal to expect them to win every season (except perhaps
in Scotland where there are only two decent teams).
As for this season - Arsenal are worthy champions - they beat us twice and
you can't get more worthy than that. On top of that you have their amazing
late finish of seven consecutive wins including 12 goals in three games. By
contrast we've had two wins, three draws and two losses and scored only
eight goals in seven games.
It's clear the injuries had a devastating impact at a crucial time, and
became more than even we could carry, although I can't help thinking
something else has been missing for some time.
This will probably prompt a repeat of what happened last time we finished
second - a clear out of some much-loved and favourite stars, some new
blood, both bought and through the ranks and yet another great side, one
that hopefully can take us to the pinnacle. (I for one would be thrilled to
have a player like Del Piero playing for our club).
Pallister looks to be on his last legs, his games out through injury
signaling it's probably time we let one of the few remaining players from
Alex's first victory the 1990 FA cup final, move on. Sherringham was always
a mystery to me - good player, but why buy someone as old as Hughes, when
he was let go because he was too old? And there will be more.
A slight downer to finish on. Those taking heart from the fact we are still
in the Champions League should remember, finishing second means we have to
play the qualifying rounds - no easy passage straight to the group like
last year. Perhaps we should throw in the towel, finish third, qualify for
UEFA (where we'd be seeded) and join a select group of great clubs who have
won all three Euro titles? Just a thought. Oh and I trust we'll been
cheering on Newcastle to save us one final humiliation and of course
Hughesie in the ECWC.
|Black Sunday 19th April 1998|
Subject: Loss Of Duo Cost United Title (PA)
UNITED RUEING DOUBLE LOSS
By Martin Lipton, PA Sport Chief Soccer Writer
One man walked away, the other was carried away - and Alex Ferguson must
know that is why the championship is going away.
Less than two months ago, after a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge, it was all
over and a bookmaker was already paying out.
United were 12 points clear of Arsenal - a massive margin even though Arsene
Wenger's side had matches in hand - and looked unstoppable.
But since then it has all gone horribly wrong. Without Roy Keane's midfield
drive, United have lacked the belief and sheer intensity you need when the
nerves are exposed.
And when they needed imagination and a bit extra up front, all the effort in
the world could not make up for the loss of Eric Cantona's craft, guile and
Take the words of United legend Paddy Crerand, sharing the disbelief of Reds
fans as he sat in near-deserted Old Trafford last night.
"I came out after the Chelsea game thinking the league was all over,"
Crerand told listeners to a local radio phone-in. "But since then it's been
Indeed it has, and as Ferguson steeled himself to watching Wenger and his
Arsenal side parade around Highbury with the trophy the Scot feels is his by
right, he must have reflected on the pair who could have made all the
The United boss must take some responsibility for putting all his eggs in
the European Champions' League basket, sending out the clear message the
title did not matter so much, that it would "look after itself".
But he will also know if Cantona and Keane had been available to him then
not even the Gunners' prodigious run could have wrested the Premiership from
Hindsight, of course, makes everything easy, and when United put seven goals
past Barnsley in October to start a six-month reign at the top that ended
this weekend, few would have doubted Ferguson's thinking.
Teddy Sheringham appeared to be filling Cantona's boots and, while Keane's
self-inflicted injury at Leeds was still a blow, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes
were filling the breach.
Yet when it mattered, in Europe and domestically, Keane's absence from the
heart of the midfield engine room - where sheer force of will means so
much - was key.
The Irishman, whose piercing eyes give insight into his utter determination,
would have imposed himself on the matches that mattered.
And with Keane in the middle of the park and Cantona up front, it is hard to
believe United would not have turned the successive home draws against
Liverpool and Newcastle into vital wins.
Sheringham, despite two penalty misses which saw him relieved of spot-kick
duties, looked to be making light of Cantona's absence at the start of the
One reason was his relationship with Andy Cole - unlike the brooding
Frenchman, who never hid his lack of faith in the £7million man, Sheringham
But since the turn of the year, Sheringham has not found the net in the
Premiership, the United fans clearly turning on him, finding one man they
His body language suggests so much. It is not that Sheringham is not
trying - if anything, he is trying too hard - but there is a sense things
have conspired against him.
Ferguson tried to defend the former Tottenham man. "Players have periods
when they can play better. You have highs and lows but that's no problem -
that's football," he said.
Yet it was in what Americans call the "clutch" that Cantona, enigmatic and
at times unfathomable, could be relied upon to pull rabbits from the hat.
Take two seasons ago as United closed in on their second Ferguson Double.
In March and early April 1996, as Newcastle fell apart at the seams, Cantona
scored the only goal as United beat the Magpies, Arsenal, Tottenham and
Coventry, also coming up with the late equaliser at QPR.
The Frenchman completed that season of success with the Wembley winner over
Liverpool, coming up with the goods time and again.
Even last season, with his importance waning slightly, Ferguson knew he
could turn to Cantona when the situation demanded and he scored winners
against Southampton and Blackburn - always a totemic, talismanic presence.
To add insult to injury, Arsenal's French musketeers - Patrick Vieira,
Emmanuel Petit, Nicolas Anelka - have played so important a part for the
Ferguson remains convinced of one thing - that his team are, whatever the
table says on May 10, the best team in the land. But now he is left
straw-clutching in an unaccustomed and unhappy position.
"We're good enough to win it still," he maintained. "Football's a funny
game - you never know." In his heart of hearts, of course, he knows all too
© PA Sporting Life
|Black Sunday 19th April 1998|
X-Mailer: Windows Eudora Pro Version 3.0 (32)
Date: Sun, 19 Apr 1998 13:12:01 -0400
Subject: Ooh Aah, We Miss Ya...
Many words will be said as to why we're not performing as supremely in the
title run-in as we have been in recent seasons. But for me, there is only
one reason -- we miss Eric. End of story. We may have made it terms of the
"inspiration" department had Keano been fit, but no one - NO ONE - could
replace the sheer aura and magic that surrounded the man. We had a sense of
invincibility whenever he strutted onto the pitch, collar firmly raised.
Now? We don't even play like championship contenders. We look like a team
who's lost it's leader. Directionless. Hopefully we'll be able to produce
that magic next season, or it may well be said that Manchester United cannot
win without Le Dieu, The God.
I'm not throwing in the towel yet, but I've never seen United in a worse run
like this when Eric was around. Come on you Reds, don't give it up without a
ps: When you look back at all those videos, it's amazing to see how Eric
came up with the goods whenever we needed them. That's why he won a
championship medal every season he played in England. He is THE King.
The King Is Gone, Long Live The King.
|Black Sunday 19th April 1998|
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