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December 1998

December started off with news of another shock departure from Manchester United and this time around from the coaching department.


Sir Alex Ferguson’s right hand man and one of the most respected coaches in world football, Brian Kidd had been approached by Blackburn Rovers following the sacking of Roy Hodgson. While Kiddo would be a big loss for United, it was an opportunity that he simply could not pass up on.


Soon after the departure of Kidd, United’s fortunes on the pitch started to suffer. The Red Devils started off the month with defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur in the League Cup and then went on a terrible six match run without registering a single victory, which put their Premier League hopes in  jeopardy.


One win in eight matches in the month of December meant that United had been left wondering whether they blew their chances of winning any silverware after having made such a fine start.


2/12/1998

Tottenham Hotspur 3 – 1 Manchester United

Venue – White Hart Lane (League Cup)

Sir Alex Ferguson decided to field a much stronger side than he had previously done in the League Cup but that could not prevent United from suffering defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur.


After a goalless first half, Tottenham came to life while United went through a huge collapse. Within the first 10 minutes of the restart, a double from Chris Armstrong left the Red Devils stunned.


While Teddy Sheringham did hand United hope by scoring in the 70th minute, man of the match David Ginola sealed the win for Spurs and dumped out their opponents from the League Cup.


5/12/1998

Aston Villa 1 – 1 Manchester United

Venue – Villa Park

Manchester United were unable to shake off their disappointing loss against Tottenham by only managing a draw against Aston Villa in the following Premier League game.


After a goalless first half, United managed to take the lead soon after the interval through a fine strike from Paul Scholes.


However, the Red Devils were soon pegged back after Julian Joachim’s effort took a big deflection and looped over the helpless Peter Schemeichel, into the net. United could not muster a winner after conceding and had to be content with only a point.


9/12/1998

Manchester United 1 – 1 Bayern Munich

Venue – Old Trafford

Following two disappointing results domestically, Manchester United did not head into the all important final group game Champions League clash against Bayern Munich in the best of shapes.


However, there was a huge incentive for United going into the game as a win would mean that the Red Devils would seal their place in the knock out phase of the competition. By the same token though, a loss could have seen the home team dumped out of the competition.


Following a tense affair early on, United managed to get the breakthrough in the 43rd minute through Roy Keane’s fine strike from the edge of the box as the Red Devils looked on course for the knock out phases.


However, a Hasan Salihamidžić equalizer meant that United were in for a nervy ending to the game. In the end though, the draw meant that both teams would be qualifying for the next round after Barcelona failed to get the desired result against Brondby.


9/12/1998

Tottenham Hotspur 2 – 2 Manchester United

Venue – White Hart Lane

While the draw in the Champions League against Bayern Munich was certainly a positive, Manchester United were simply unable to get a good result in the Premier League after once again dropping two points in the 2-2 draw against Tottenham at White Hart Lane.


Following their loss in the League Cup a few days ago, United were looking for revenge and started off on fire after the David Beckham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer combination saw the Red Devils take a two goal lead within the first 20 minutes of the game.


However, Gary Neville saw red in the first half for two bookable offences and United then found themselves on the back foot. In the second half, Tottenham launched a comeback as Sol Campbell scored a brace, with his second coming in injury time to salvage a draw for Spurs while leaving United deflated at the final whistle.


16/12/1998

Manchester United 1 – 1 Chelsea

Venue – Old Trafford

Another game, another two dropped points for United as Sir Alex’s men remained without a win in December after drawing with Chelsea at Old Trafford.


Andy Cole had handed the Red Devils the lead just on the stroke of half time but were unable to hang on in the second half as some slack defending saw Gianfranco Zola grab the equalizer in the 83rd minute of the game to send the Old Trafford faithful home disappointed once again.


19/12/1998

Manchester United 2 – 3 Middlesbrough

Venue – Old Trafford

United’s December went from bad to worse as they succumbed to their first defeat of the month following a string of draws, as they surprisingly lost out to Middlesbrough 3-2 at Old Trafford.


In a shocking performance, United went into half time with a two goal deficit after Hamilton Ricard and Dean Gordon scored for Boro. The hosts were expected to put in a much more improved display in the second half but sensationally conceded another one after Brian Deane capitalized on truly comical defending by United.


Goals from Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes had given the Red Devils hope of salvaging something from the game but it was not meant to be and the win for Middlesbrough was well deserved.


26/12/1998

Manchester United 3 – 0 Nottingham Forest

Venue – Old Trafford

Following such a torrid run of results, United finally grabbed an all important win with a convincing 3-0 victory over Nottingham Forest.


Ronny Johnsen was the unlikely hero as he grabbed a fine brace while Ryan Giggs sealed the victory with one of the team goals of the season.

Little did they know it then, but the win against Forest marked the start of a remarkable feat of remaining unbeaten for the rest of the season for the Red Devils.


29/12/1998

Chelsea 0 – 0 Manchester United

Venue – Stamford Bridge

Staying with the theme of December, United ended December with another draw - their 5th of the month, against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.


In a dour affair, both teams created very little but Sir Alex had his goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel to thank after he made an outstanding save to deny Gianfranco Zola, which earned the Red Devils a vital point.


Star Performer of the Month:
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

In such a poor month, most of the United players were poor and no one really covered themselves in glory.


That being said, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored some vital goals for United and the Norwegian striker could certainly be pleased with his individual performances.

 



League Table

Pos

Team

Pld

Pts

GD

1st

Aston Villa

20

39

+11

2nd

Chelsea

20

37

+14

3rd

Manchester United

20

35

+16

4th

Arsenal

20

35

+11

5th

Leeds United

20

33

+15

Results - December 1998

Date

Comp

Opp

Venue

Score

2nd

League
Cup

Tottenham

A

1-3

5th

Premier
League

Aston Villa

A

1-1

9th

Champions
League

Bayern
Munich

H

1-1

12th

Premier
League

Tottenham

A

2-2

16th

Premier
League

Chelsea

H

1-1

19th

Premier
League

Middlesbro’

H

2-3

26th

Premier
League

Nottingham
Forest

H

3-0

29th

Premier
League

Chelsea

A

0-0