Wednesday, 29 December 2010

A taste of their own medicine...

The Red Devils
Manchester United are a good team led by a great manager. In fact, Alex Ferguson has proved that he is one of the best managers to have ever graced the game and should be placed alongside the Ramseys and Cloughs of this world. His Manchester teams have conquered the Premier League more times than any other side and have conquered Europe on two occasions also. They have lifted the F.A Cup and the League cup along with the FIFA Club World Cup. There is not a winnable trophy that Alex Ferguson has not brought to Manchester.

While they deserve all the plaudits they get, and more, I have to say that they have also enjoyed a fair amount of luck.

Let me back that up before you all scream “heathen” and have me hunted down.

“Sir” Alex Ferguson was nearly sacked only 3 years into his reign at Manchester United. Indeed, if it had not been for a fortuitous run in the 1989/90 F.A Cup, which led to United winning the cup, he would have been sent packing. Where would United have been then? Without their great manager they surely would not have become the force they are today. There must be more luck to it than that I hear you cry. Well, there is.

In January of the 1995/96 season, Manchester United sat 12 points behind a rampant Newcastle United at the top of the table. A series of unfortunate events befell Newcastle from that point on, (including the epic 4-3 loss against Liverpool) while lady luck seemed to have a permanent smile for the Red Devils.

Manchester United were gaining last minute winners while Newcastle were conceding them and then there was that all important fixture between the two teams. Man United won the game 1-0 but only the brilliance of Peter Schmeichel (and the goal posts) kept Newcastle from scoring a goal that day. The Red Devils went on to win the Premiership trophy that year, finishing four points clear of Newcastle.

Surely there must be more? Of course there is.

Bayern's players are dejected after the game.
In 1999, Manchester United had reached the Champion's League Final. In that match they played Bayern Munich, one of the powerhouses of Europe at the time. After 90 minutes, the score stood at 1-0 in favour of the German side and the game looked dead and buried for United. However, their old friend – “injury time” was not about to abandon the Red Devils. United scored two goals in as many minutes (timed at 90:36 and 92:17) to become European Champions, leaving the Bayern players devastated.

Since that day United have made the last minute winner a hallmark of theirs, and have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat on numerous occasions. Some people reckon you make your own luck and, to a certain extent, I agree with that. However, to get as much luck as United have enjoyed over the years would surely require some sort of pact with a devil, demon or another form of otherworldly creature.

So, why the lecture on United's luck? Well today when a win would have taken United five crucial points clear of Arsenal, and two points clear of Man City at the top of the table, Fergie's men could not manage a victory. Instead, they threw away a 1 goal lead over struggling Birmingham.

That meant the game ended as a 1-1 draw and that means United are only 3 points ahead of Arsenal and are level with City. But draws happen all the time though don't they? They do, however this draw was a special one because of the time on the clock when Birmingham found the net.

The 89th minute. 


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