The Journey From 1 to 19 – Part Four

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By James Johnson.

Read the complete journey: The Journey From 1 to 19

1992/93

26 years long years had passed without winning the league until an Eric Cantona inspired United finally lifted the biggest prize in English football. After blowing the title the year before at Anfield which allowed Leeds United to win the league, many were expecting another frustrating season, especially after picking up only one point from the opening three games (Sheffield United 1-2, Everton 0-3, Ipswich Town 1-1). I spoke to Steve about that season, and when he finally began to believe that the club would end the two decades of hurt.

“During the 1992/93 season a lot would say the 2-1 home win against Sheffield Wednesday was the turning point. Personally, the 2-1 victory (“Choccy” McClair and Mark Hughes the goalscorers) over Liverpool at Anfield was the first time I actually believed we were going to win the league. The display against Norwich put the icing on the cake. If memory serves me correctly Norwich were top of the league, but we absolutely murdered them with football that was fast and furious. Nobody would have lived with us on that Monday night in April. Kanchelskis was superb, Cantona supreme and a youngster called Giggs was a showstopper. From that point on I knew we would win the league, the rest took notice. Yes, Liverpool helped, but the magnificent display at Carrow Road made a statement!!

“Most United fans are unaware of the feeling of going so long without winning the league. One trauma followed by another, waiting for the next manager in the hope he knew the magic formula to end the torrid wait. Will we ever get it right was a question a regularly asked myself and discussed with mates. After watching United for so long under one manager we needed stability. Sir Alex was that man, but he started at the bottom, many failed to realise the state United were in (I’d actually seen from an insight…). I had waited so long and had watched with envy how Liverpool dominated English football effortlessly. So after waiting twenty plus years without winning the league title emotions were of relief and then elation.

“How can feelings be put to paper… WE WERE CHAMPIONS! Just walking into work with a smug grin on my face, everybody waiting for me to say something, biding my time then bursting out with “United are the greatest and no-one can deny”.

Manchester United lost only two games in the league after the new year and eventually ended up ten points clear of Norwich City. Mark Hughes ended the season as the clubs top scorer with 16 goals, 15 of which came in the league. Cantona, Giggs and McClair all chipped in with nine league goals to help Man United become the first Premier League champions.

1993/94

League titles are like buses, you wait ages for one and then two come along at once. Well not exactly, but you get the idea. After the 26 year wait for one title Unted managed to get back to back titles for the first time in the history of the club. United only lost one game in the opening seven months of the season and only four in total, an incredible record in any season, especially one in a 42 game Premier League campaign.

Inspired by Eric Cantona’s 18 league goals, United blew their opponents apart all season, including a 5-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday which came less than two weeks after the same team were beaten in the League Cup semi final 4-1 by the red devils. It was Cantona pulling the strings which allowed the midfield players Giggs, Sharpe, Kanchelskis, Keane and Ince to add a further 41 goals between them to the teams total.

After winning the league United went to Wembley to face Chelsea in the F.A Cup Final. After an early scare in the firs half when Gavin Peacock hit the bar from 35 yards, the champions took the game by the scruff of the neck. Two cool penalties from Cantona set the team on the way and United won the cup 4-0 with the further two goals coming from Mark Hughes and Brian McClair.

1995/96

After the opening day defeat to Aston Villa (1-3), Alan Hansen declared on national television that “You’ll never with anything with kids”. How very wrong he turned out to be.

After a shaky first half of the season which included back to back defeats by arch rivals Liverpool and Leeds, United’s title hopes were in the balance, even more so with the impressive form of the Keegan led Toon Army who led the league at one point by 11 points.

Yes this was the season of THAT TV rant by Keegan. After seeing United winning 12 games out of 15 and closing the gap on his Newcastle side, Keegan was less than impressed with Fergie’s comments suggesting teams try harder against United, so unimpressed he came out with this now infamous rant, ‘I’ve kept really quiet, but I’ll tell you something: he went down in my estimation when he said that,’

‘I’ll tell ya – you can tell him now, he’ll be watching – we’re still fighting for this title. And I’ll tell you honestly, I will love it if we beat them – LOVE IT!

However he didn’t get to ‘love it’. United went off to Middlesbrough knowing a win would seal yet another title under Ferguson, and win they did with goals from Andy Cole, Ryan Giggs and David May as the United fans sung “We won the football league again, down by the riverside, down by the riverside, down by the riversiiiide.”

The season ended with another F.A Cup final, this time against the ‘spice boys’ from Liverpool. As the game was heading towards extra time the ball bounced to the edge of the box where that man Cantona somehow managed to volley the ball past a crowded penalty area to seal another double for Fergie’s Fledglings.

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