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May 1999

May was the month which would decide whether all of Manchester United’s hard work throughout the course of the campaign would bear fruit or blow up in their faces. The Red Devils had done wonderfully well under adversity to head into the final sprint with a chance to complete a remarkable treble.


While the FA Cup and Champions League Final would be contested at the end of the month, Manchester United had to take care of business in the Premier League.


However, in a seesaw battle at the top of the table against Arsenal, United looked like they would had blown their title chances away after managing only draws against Liverpool and Blackburn Rovers.

At the end though, it was Manchester United who kept their cool and saw off the challenge posed by Arsenal, as they registered a fine comeback victory over Tottenham Hotspur in the final game of the season, edging the Gunners out with a single point.


In the FA Cup, it was a more routine victory as Teddy Sheringham’s heroics handed United the victory over Newcastle United.


Then the big one - The Champions League final against Bayern Munich at the beautiful Nou Camp. For long periods of the game it looked like Manchester United’s treble dreams would be shattered but as was the case with the Red Devils throughout the course of the campaign, they simply did not know when to give up and goals from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer deep into injury time capped off a magical season for the club.


1/5/1999
Manchester United 2 – 1 Aston Villa
Venue – Old Trafford

Having relinquished their grip at the top of the table, Manchester United were aware of the fact that a win against Aston Villa would send them back to the summit of the Premier League.


It all started well for the Red Devils as Villa’s Steve Watson bundled the ball into his own net to hand United the lead. However, the visitors were not going to surrender easily as Julian Joachim equalized soon after to send the two teams into half-time on level terms.


While many had predicted a difficult second half for United, David Beckham stepped up for a free kick in the 47th minute and curled a wonderful goal past the helpless Michael Oakes to calm any nerves and ensure that his side would finish the week back on top of the table.


5/5/1999
Liverpool 2 – 2 Manchester United
Venue – Anfield

With Arsenal once again returning to the top of the table, it was of paramount importance for Manchester United to claim victory in their next Premier League game. It would be anything but straightforward though, as they squared off against fierce rivals Liverpool at Anfield.


Manchester United certainly got off to a great start as Dwight Yorke handed his side the lead before Denis Irwin doubled United’s advantage through the penalty spot.


However, Liverpool were handed a way back into the game after the referee harshly deemed Jesper Blomqvist’s tackle on Øyvind Leonhardsen as a foul inside the box, allowing Jamie Redknapp to pull one back for the Reds before another contentious decision by the official of sending off Denis Irwin handed the home side a huge initiative.


Then in the 89th minute of the game, United were pegged back as old boy Paul Ince popped up to equalize and deliver a huge blow to his former side’s title aspirations.


9/5/1999
Middlesbrough 0 – 1 Manchester United
Venue – Riverside Stadium

In another closely fought encounter, Manchester United edged past Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium through Dwight Yorke’s 29th goal.


The performance was certainly not United’s best of the season but like he had done for majority of the campaign, Yorke once again emerged as the hero by striking for United just before the break.


On the same weekend Arsenal lost out to Leeds United meaning that the fate of the title was back in Manchester United’s hands.


12/5/1999
Blackburn Rovers 0 – 0 Manchester United
Venue – Ewood Park

Manchester United headed into the penultimate weekend clash against Blackburn Rovers knowing that a win would virtually hand them the title.


Despite the initiative though, they were up against a Blackburn Rovers side desperate for a win in order to retain their Premier League status.


As expected the match turned out to be a very difficult affair for United and both sides were unable to get the desired result at the end. The draw meant that Brian Kidd’s Blackburn Rovers were consigned to relegation while Sir Alex’s Manchester United needed to register a victory in their final game against Tottenham Hotspur to claim the title.


16/5/1999
Manchester United 2 – 1 Tottenham Hotspur
Venue – Old Trafford

Manchester United welcomed Tottenham Hotspur to Old Trafford safe with the knowledge that a win would guarantee them the title. While it would not be easy against Spurs, United were expected to get the job done.


In typical Manchester United fashion though, they went behind as Les Ferdinand put Spurs ahead with a wonderful finish. After conceding, the nervousness around Old Trafford could be felt and United missing a host of gilt edge chances did not help matters.


Much to the relief of the fans, David Beckham finally managed to level things up in the 43rd minute with a wonderful goal past Ian Walker to send the two teams level at half time.


From that point on, there seemed to be only one winner as United started the second half with real intent and managed to grab the vital second in the 48th minute through Andy Cole’s wonderful chip.


News of Arsenal taking the lead against Aston Villa in their game meant that Manchester United were in for a nervy finish to the game but the Red Devils held on to cap off an amazing Premier League season and hand Sir Alex his fifth domestic title in only seven years.

















22/5/1999
Manchester United 2 – 0 Newcastle United
Venue – Wembley (FA Cup Final)

After the dramatic Premier League triumph, Manchester United required two more victories to secure an unprecedented treble. First up was the FA Cup clash against Newcastle United at Wembley.


United were favourites heading into the clash but were dealt a huge blow as Roy Keane had to be forced off after only two minutes due to injury and Sir Alex certainly surprised quite a few people by electing to bring striker Teddy Sheringham as his replacement.


The change proved to be an inspired one though as it was Sheringham who broke the deadlock soon after coming on with a fine finish before playing a huge part in the second by laying off a wonderful ball for Paul Scholes to score in the second half.


Newcastle offered very little in terms of a comeback and United lifted their second trophy in the space of a week.


26/5/1999 – Manchester United 2 – 1 Bayern Munich, Venue – Nou Camp (Champions League Final)

Manchester United did not have too much time to celebrate their fine Premier League and FA Cup win as just four days later, the Red Devils squared off against Bayern Munich at the Nou Camp for the biggest prize of them all – The Champions League.


The prospect of making history with a marvelous treble was certainly one which looked very enticing but United knew it would be very tough against a solid Bayern side, especially in the absence of two key players – Paul Scholes and Roy Keane due to suspension.


The loss of Scholes and Keane was certainly felt as United got dominated by Bayern throughout the game. Mario Basler handed the Germans the lead within five minutes before the Bavarian giants missed a host of opportunities to get the second goal. With the game entering injury time, Manchester United’s dreams of a treble seemed to be shattered as they looked incapable of finding the equalizer.


However, the final two minutes of stoppage time epitomized what Manchester United were all about throughout the course of the season. Having won a corner in the 90th minute of the game, substitute Teddy Sheringham earned his side a dramatic equalizer.


Almost immediately after the equalizer, United won another corner. David Beckham floated in a fine ball which was nodded on by Sheringham into the path of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who flicked the ball home to seal the most astonishing of comebacks seen in a Champions League final and leave Bayern Munich stunned.


The victory meant that Manchester United claimed their first Champions League title since 1968 and in the process, the 1998/99 batch sealed their place as one of the finest ever teams in the history of football with their remarkable treble victory.



Star Performer of the Month:
Teddy Sheringham

It goes without saying that it was a remarkable month for Manchester United and while the whole team should be lauded for helping the Red Devils claim triumphs on all three fronts, it was Teddy Sheringham who probably made it all possible by making vital contributions in the FA Cup final as well as the Champions League final.


His two goals as well as two assists against Newcastle United and Bayern Munich in the FA Cup and Champions League Finals respectively made sure that United’s fine season would finally be rewarded with trophies.





League Table

Pos

Team

Pld

Pts

GD

1st

Manchester United

38

79

+43

2nd

Arsenal

38

78

+42

3rd

Chelsea

38

75

+27

4th

Leeds United

38

67

+28

Results - May 1999

Date

Comp

Opp

Venue

Score

1st

Premier
League

Aston Villa

H

2-1

5th

Premier
League

Liverpool

A

2-2

9th

Premier
League

Middlesbro’

A

1-0

12th

Premier
League

Blackburn
Rovers

A

0-0

16th

Premier
League

Tottenham
Hotspur

H

2-1

22nd

FA Cup
Final

Newcastle
United

N

2-0

26th

Champions
League
Final

Bayern
Munich

N

2-1