Tag Archives: Sir Alex Ferguson

Seasonal Records: 1995-1996

For all the statistical fans out there, here are some of the season’s records from the 1995-1996 Premier League season which was the first where just 20 clubs took part.

FINAL TABLE

Position Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Manchester United 38 25 7 6 73 35 +38 82
2 Newcastle United 38 24 6 8 66 37 +29 78
3 Liverpool FC 38 20 11 7 70 34 +36 71
4 Aston Villa 38 18 9 11 52 35 +17 63
5 Arsenal 38 17 12 9 49 32 +17 63
6 Everton 38 17 10 11 64 44 +20 61
7 Blackburn Rovers 38 18 7 13 61 47 +14 61
8 Tottenham Hotspur 38 16 13 9 50 38 +12 61
9 Nottingham Forest 38 15 13 10 50 54 -4 58
10 West Ham United 38 14 9 15 43 52 -9 51
11 Chelsea 38 12 14 12 46 44 +2 50
12 Middlesbrough 38 11 10 17 35 50 -15 43
13 Leeds United 38 12 7 19 40 57 -17 43
14 Wimbledon 38 10 11 17 55 70 -15 41
15 Sheffield Wednesday 38 10 10 18 48 61 -13 40
16 Coventry City 38 8 14 16 42 60 -18 38
17 Southampton 38 9 11 18 34 52 -18 38
18 Manchester City 38 9 11 18 33 58 -25 38
19 Queens Park Rangers 38 9 6 23 38 57 -19 33
20 Bolton Wanderers 38 8 5 25 39 71 -32 29

THE BASIC STATS

Goals Scored 988
European qualifiers Manchester United (UEFA Champions League), Newcastle United (UEFA Cup), Aston Villa (UEFA Cup), Arsenal (UEFA Cup), Liverpool FC (UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup)
Longest winning run 6 games (Manchester United)
Longest unbeaten run 15 games (Liverpool FC)
Longest winless run 14 games (Coventry City & Wimbledon)
Longest losing run 8 games (Manchester City & Middlesbrough)
Highest attendance 53,926 (Manchester United vs. Nottingham Forest)
Lowest attendance 6,352 (Wimbledon vs. Sheffield Wednesday)

AWARDS

PFA Players’ Player of the Year Les Ferdinand (Newcastle United)
PFA Young Player of the Year Robbie Fowler (Liverpool FC)
Football Writers’ Award Eric Cantona (Manchester United)
PFA Team of the Year David James, Alan Wright, Tony Adams, Ugo Ehiogu, Gary Neville, Ruud Gullit, Steve Stone, Rob Lee, David Ginola, Alan Shearer, Les Ferdinand
Manager of the Year Alex Ferguson (Manchester United)
Goal of the Season Tony Yeboah (Wimbledon vs. LEEDS UNITED)

HAT-TRICK HEROES

Player Teams Score Date
Matt Le Tissier Southampton vs. Nottingham Forest 3-4 19th August 1995
Robbie Fowler (4) Liverpool FC vs. Bolton Wanderers 5-2 23rd September 1995
Alan Shearer Blackburn Rovers vs. Coventry City 5-1 23rd September 1995
Tony Yeboah Wimbledon vs. Leeds United 2-4 23rd September 1995
Les Ferdinand Newcastle United vs. Wimbledon 6-1 21st October 1995
Gary McAllister Leeds United vs. Coventry City 3-1 28th October 1995
Alan Shearer Blackburn Rovers vs. Nottingham Forest 7-0 18th November 1995
Alan Shearer Blackburn Rovers vs. West Ham United 4-2 2nd December 1995
Dion Dublin Sheffield Wednesday vs. Coventry City 4-3 4th December 1995
Savo Milosevic Aston Villa vs. Coventry City 4-1 16th December 1995
Robbie Fowler Liverpool FC vs. Arsenal 3-1 23rd December 1995
Alan Shearer Blackburn Rovers vs. Bolton Wanderers 3-1 3rd February 1996
Gavin Peacock Chelsea vs. Middlesbrough 5-0 4th February 1996
Alan Shearer Tottenham Hotspur vs. Blackburn Rovers 2-3 16th March 1996
Mark Hughes Chelsea vs. Leeds United 4-1 13th April 1996
Andrei Kanchelskis Sheffield Wednesday vs. Everton 2-5 27th April 1996

TOP SCORERS

Position Player Teams No of Goals
1 Alan Shearer Blackburn Rovers 31
2 Robbie Fowler Liverpool FC 28
3 Les Ferdinand Newcastle United 25
4 Dwight Yorke Aston Villa 17
5= Andrei Kanchelskis Everton 16
5= Teddy Sheringham Tottenham Hotspur 16
7= Ian Wright Arsenal 15
7= Chris Armstrong Tottenham Hotspur 15
9= Eric Cantona Manchester United 14
9= Stan Collymore Liverpool FC 14
9= Dion Dublin Coventry City 14
12 John Spencer Chelsea 13
13= Savo Milosevic Aston Villa 12
13= Tony Yeboah Leeds United 12
13= David Hirst Sheffield Wednesday 12
16= Andy Cole Manchester United 11
16= Dennis Bergkamp Arsenal 11
16= Robbie Earle Wimbledon 11
16= Ryan Giggs Manchester United 11
20= Tony Cottee West Ham United 10
20= Paul Scholes Manchester United 10
20= Dean Holdsworth Wimbledon 10
20= Danny Dichio Queens Park Rangers 10
20= Julian Dicks West Ham United 10
25 Graham Stuart Everton 9

BIGGEST VICTORIES

Blackburn Rovers 7-0 Nottingham Forest 18th November 1995
Bolton Wanderers 0-6 Manchester United 25th February 1996
Liverpool FC 6-0 Manchester City 28th October 1995
Newcastle United 6-1 Wimbledon 21st October 1995
Manchester United 5-0 Nottingham Forest 28th April 1996
Liverpool FC 5-0 Leeds United 20th January 1996
Chelsea 5-0 Middlesbrough 5th February 1996
Coventry City 5-0 Blackburn Rovers 9th December 1995
Sheffield Wednesday 6-2 Leeds United 16th December 1995
Blackburn Rovers 5-1 Coventry City 23rd September 1995

HIGHEST SCORING GAMES

No of Goals Teams Date
8 Sheffield Wednesday 6-2 Leeds United 16th December 1995
7 Blackburn Rovers 7-0 Nottingham Forest 18th November 1995
7 Newcastle United 6-1 Wimbledon 21st October 1995
7 Liverpool FC 5-2 Bolton Wanderers 23rd September 1995
7 Sheffield Wednesday 2-5 Everton 27th April 1996
7 Liverpool FC 4-3 Newcastle United 3rd April 1996
7 Southampton 3-4 Nottingham Forest 19th August 1995
7 Sheffield Wednesday 4-3 Coventry City 4th December 1995
6 Bolton Wanderers 0-6 Manchester United 25th February 1996
6 Liverpool FC 6-0 Manchester City 28th October 1995
6 Blackburn Rovers 5-1 Coventry City 23rd September 1995
6 Nottingham Forest 1-5 Blackburn Rovers 13th April 1996
6 Arsenal 4-2 Sheffield Wednesday 21st November 1995
6 Wimbledon 2-4 Manchester United 3rd February 1996
6 Liverpool FC 4-2 Nottingham Forest 1st January 1996
6 Aston Villa 4-2 Queens Park Rangers 9th March 1996
6 Arsenal 4-2 Southampton 23rd September 1995
6 Blackburn Rovers 4-2 West Ham United 2nd December 1995
6 West Ham United 4-2 Manchester City 23rd March 1996
6 Middlesbrough 4-2 West Ham United 23rd December 1995

YOUNGEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Mark Platts Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 Wimbledon 16 years, 8 months, 18 days 10th February 1996
Andy Campbell Middlesbrough 3-1 Sheffield Wednesday 16 years, 11 months, 18 days 5th April 1996
Neil Finn Manchester City 2-1 West Ham United 17 years, 3 days 1st January 1996
Jody Morris Chelsea 5-0 Middlesbrough 17 years, 1 month, 14 days 5th February 1996
Michael Branch Manchester United 2-0 Everton 17 years, 4 months, 3 days 21st February 1996
Nigel Quashie Manchester United 2-1 Queens Park Rangers 17 years, 5 months, 10 days 30th December 1995
Alan Maybury Aston Villa 3-0 Leeds United 17 years, 5 months, 26 days 3rd February 1996
Rio Ferdinand West Ham United 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday 17 years, 5 months, 28 days 5th May 1996
Harry Kewell Leeds United 0-1 Middlesbrough 17 years, 6 months, 8 days 30th March 1996
Frank Lampard West Ham United 3-2 Coventry City 17 years, 7 months, 11 days 31st January 1996

OLDEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Ray Wilkins Nottingham Forest 3-0 Queens Park Rangers 39 years, 7 months, 21 days 5th May 1996
Gordon Strachan Nottingham Forest 0-0 Coventry City 39 years, 2 months, 8 days 17th April 1996
Bryan Robson Middlesbrough 4-2 West Ham United 38 years, 11 months, 12 days 23rd December 1995
Steve Ogrizovic Coventry City 0-0 Leeds United 38 years, 7 months, 23 days 5th May 1996
Bruce Grobbelaar Aston Villa 3-0 Southampton 38 years, 5 months, 23 days 8th April 1996
Les Sealey Newcastle United 3-0 West Ham United 38 years, 5 months, 18 days 18th March 1996
Alvin Martin West Ham United 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday 37 years, 9 months, 6 days 5th May 1996
Neville Southall Everton 1-0 Aston Villa 37 years, 7 months, 19 days 5th May 1996
Nigel Spink Queens Park Rangers 1-0 Aston Villa 37 years, 4 months, 15 days 23rd December 1995
Mick Harford Southampton 0-0 Wimbledon 37 years, 2 months, 23 days 5th May 1996

CLEAN SHEETS

Position Player Teams No of Clean Sheets
1 Peter Schmeichel Manchester United 18
2= David James Liverpool FC 16
2= David Seaman Arsenal 16
4= Mark Bosnich Aston Villa 15
4= Neville Southall Everton 15
6= Ian Walker Tottenham Hotspur 11
6= Ludek Miklosko West Ham United 11
8= Tim Flowers Blackburn Rovers 10
8= Dmitri Kharine Chelsea 10
8= Dave Beasant Southampton 10

Premier League Files: Nicky Butt

Premier League Career: Manchester United (1992-2004), Newcastle United (2004-2005), (2006-2009), Birmingham City (2005-2006)

Part of the young talent that were dubbed “Fergie’s Fledglings,” Nicky Butt enjoyed a lengthy and fruitful Premier League career, winning six Premier League titles at Manchester United. He is back at the club where he received his big break helping today’s youngsters in the academy as well as being one of the five ‘Class of 92’ owners at Salford City FC.

The midfielder turned professional in 1993 but he had already made his Premier League debut by then, appearing as a late substitute in Manchester United’s 3-0 victory over Oldham Athletic in November 1992. It wasn’t until the 1994-1995 season though that the Old Trafford faithful got to see Butt play on a regular basis.

Roy Keane and Paul Ince were the main central midfielders at the time but with Paul Parker injured and Gary Neville still an emerging talent, Keane was often asked to deputise as a right-back. That meant Butt got more opportunities than expected and when Ince departed in the 1995 pre-season for Serie A with Inter Milan, Ferguson elected to draft Butt into the team on a regular basis as Ince’s replacement.

Goals were not a crucial part of Nicky’s game. Instead, his job was to be the ball-winner in midfield and allow the creative talents to take control going forwards. Nevertheless, he could still chip in with the odd strike. This included a goal in the opening minute of a fixture with Liverpool FC in October 1995 which was Eric Cantona’s comeback match after his nine-month ban for his kung-fu kick on a Crystal Palace supporter. In 1997-1998, Butt made the PFA Team of the Year and many believed this was his best season in the colours of Manchester United as he developed leadership qualities after a knee injury robbed the club of Keane’s presence for much of that season.

Although he started the 1999 UEFA Champions League final victory in Barcelona as Keane was suspended, Roy’s return to fitness, coupled with Paul Scholes dropping back into a central role meant Butt’s first-team opportunities got more limited into the millennium. As competition increased in the midfield, he realised it was time to leave the club that developed him. In January 2004, Nicky Butt handed in a transfer request. Sir Alex Ferguson admitted: “Nicky Butt has asked to leave; it is a very sad situation. Nicky has given Manchester United great service but he wants to play first-team football.”

After turning down a move to Birmingham City, Butt was signed by Sir Bobby Robson for Newcastle United in July 2004. Signing a four-year deal, he was seen as a replacement for Gary Speed who had departed for Bolton Wanderers. Robson was sacked though four games into the new season and Graeme Souness was not convinced by Butt’s performances. He signed Emre, Amdy Faye and Scott Parker and sent Butt packing on-loan to ironically, Birmingham City in August 2005.

He scored on his Blues’ home debut in a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City and played 24 times but after finding out that Steve Bruce had picked his son Alex ahead of him for an away trip to West Ham United, he walked out of the squad and was fined for his lack of discipline. He apologised and returned to the squad but Birmingham were relegated at the end of the season and he returned to Newcastle.

Butt became an integral part of the Newcastle line-up on his return and would captain the side on many occasions when Parker and Michael Owen were injured. He won over the fans’, who had been sceptical about his arrival in the first place and stayed with the club even after their relegation from the top-flight in 2009. He helped get them back into the Premier League before retiring from football.

He might not have attracted major headlines but Nicky Butt had a medal-winning career.

Seasonal Records: 1992-1993

For all the statistical fans out there, here are some of the season’s records from the very first Premier League campaign – the 1992/1993 season.

FINAL TABLE

Position Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Manchester United 42 24 12 6 67 31 +36 84
2 Aston Villa 42 21 11 10 57 40 +17 74
3 Norwich City 42 21 9 12 61 65 -4 72
4 Blackburn Rovers 42 20 11 11 68 46 +22 71
5 Queens Park Rangers 42 17 12 13 63 55 +8 63
6 Liverpool FC 42 16 11 15 62 55 +7 59
7 Sheffield Wednesday 42 15 14 13 55 51 +4 59
8 Tottenham Hotspur 42 16 11 15 60 66 -6 59
9 Manchester City 42 15 12 15 56 51 +5 57
10 Arsenal 42 15 11 16 40 38 +2 56
11 Chelsea 42 14 14 14 51 54 -3 56
12 Wimbledon 42 14 12 16 56 55 +1 54
13 Everton 42 15 8 19 53 55 -2 53
14 Sheffield United 42 14 10 18 54 53 +1 52
15 Coventry City 42 13 13 16 52 57 -5 52
16 Ipswich Town 42 12 16 14 50 55 -5 52
17 Leeds United 42 12 15 15 57 62 -5 51
18 Southampton 42 13 11 18 54 61 -7 50
19 Oldham Athletic 42 13 10 19 63 74 -11 49
20 Crystal Palace 42 11 16 15 48 61 -13 49
21 Middlesbrough 42 11 11 20 54 75 -21 44
22 Nottingham Forest 42 10 10 22 41 62 -21 40

 

THE BASIC STATS

Goals Scored 1,222
Average goals per game 2.65
European qualifiers Manchester United (UEFA Champions League)

Aston Villa (UEFA Cup)

Norwich City (UEFA Cup)

Arsenal (UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup)

Longest winning run 7 games (Manchester United & Sheffield Wednesday)
Longest unbeaten run 11 games (Manchester United)
Longest winless run 13 games (Ipswich Town)
Longest losing run 6 games (Nottingham Forest)
Highest attendance 44,619 (Liverpool FC vs. Everton)
Lowest attendance 3,039 (Wimbledon vs. Everton)

 

AWARDS

PFA Players’ Player of the Year 1.     Paul McGrath (Aston Villa)

2.     Paul Ince (Manchester United)

3.     Alan Shearer (Blackburn Rovers)

PFA Young Player of the Year 1.     Ryan Giggs (Manchester United)

2.     Nick Barmby (Tottenham Hotspur)

3.     Roy Keane (Nottingham Forest)

Football Writers’ Award 1.     Chris Waddle (Sheffield Wednesday)

2.     Paul McGrath (Aston Villa)

3.     Ryan Giggs (Manchester United)

PFA Team of the Year Peter Schmeichel, David Bardsley, Gary Pallister, Tony Dorigo, Paul McGrath, Paul Ince, Roy Keane, Gary Speed, Ryan Giggs, Alan Shearer, Ian Wright
Manager of the Year Alex Ferguson (Manchester United)
LMA Manager of the Year Dave Bassett (Sheffield United)
Goal of the Season Dalian Atkinson (Wimbledon vs. ASTON VILLA)

 

HAT-TRICK HEROES

Player Teams Score Date
Eric Cantona Leeds United vs. Tottenham Hotspur 5-0 25th August 1992
Mark Robins Oldham Athletic vs. Norwich City 2-3 8th November 1992
John Hendrie Middlesbrough vs. Blackburn Rovers 3-2 5th December 1992
Andy Sinton Queens Park Rangers vs. Everton 4-2 28th December 1992
Brian Deane Sheffield United vs. Ipswich Town 3-0 16th January 1993
Teddy Sheringham Tottenham Hotspur vs. Ipswich Town 4-0 20th February 1993
Gordon Strachan Leeds United vs. Blackburn Rovers 5-2 10th April 1993
Les Ferdinand Queens Park Rangers vs. Nottingham Forest 4-3 10th April 1993
Chris Bart-Williams Sheffield Wednesday vs. Southampton 5-2 12th April 1993
Les Ferdinand Everton vs. Queens Park Rangers 3-5 12th April 1993
Chris Sutton Norwich City vs. Leeds United 4-2 14th April 1993
Mark Walters Liverpool FC vs. Coventry City 4-0 17th April 1993
Rod Wallace Coventry City vs. Leeds United 3-3 8th May 1993
Matt Le Tissier Oldham Athletic vs. Southampton 4-3 8th May 1993

 

TOP SCORERS

Position Player Teams No of Goals
1 Teddy Sheringham Nottingham Forest & Tottenham Hotspur 22
2 Les Ferdinand Queens Park Rangers 20
3 Dean Holdsworth Wimbledon 19
4 Micky Quinn Coventry City 17
5= Alan Shearer Blackburn Rovers 16
5= David White Manchester City 16
7= Chris Armstrong Crystal Palace 15
7= Mark Hughes Manchester United 15
7= Brian Deane Sheffield United 15
7= Eric Cantona Leeds United & Manchester United 15
7= Mark Robins Norwich City 15
7= Matt Le Tissier Southampton 15
7= Ian Wright Arsenal 15
7= Paul Wilkinson Middlesbrough 15
15= Dean Saunders Liverpool FC & Aston Villa 14
15= Ian Rush Liverpool FC 14
15= Lee Chapman Leeds United 14
18 Mike Newell Blackburn Rovers 13
19= Tony Cottee Everton 12
19= Ian Olney Oldham Athletic 12
19= Mark Bright Crystal Palace & Sheffield Wednesday 12
22= Mike Sheron Manchester City 11
22= Kevin Gallacher Coventry City & Blackburn Rovers 11
22= David Hirst Sheffield Wednesday 11
22= Iain Dowie Southampton 11

BIGGEST VICTORIES

Blackburn Rovers 7-1 Norwich City 3rd October 1992
Sheffield United 6-0 Tottenham Hotspur 2nd March 1993
Manchester United 5-0 Coventry City 28th December 1992
Liverpool FC 5-0 Crystal Palace 28th November 1992
Leeds United 5-0 Tottenham Hotspur 25th August 1992
Liverpool FC 6-2 Tottenham Hotspur 8th May 1993
Oldham Athletic 6-2 Wimbledon 3rd April 1993
Aston Villa 5-1 Middlesbrough 17th January 1993
Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 Norwich City 9th April 1993
Coventry City 5-1 Liverpool FC 19th December 1992

 

HIGHEST SCORING GAMES

No of Goals Teams Date
8 Blackburn Rovers 7-1 Norwich City 3rd October 1992
8 Everton 3-5 Queens Park Rangers 12th April 1993
8 Liverpool FC 6-2 Tottenham Hotspur 8th May 1993
8 Oldham Athletic 5-3 Nottingham Forest 22nd August 1992
8 Oldham Athletic 6-2 Wimbledon 3rd April 1993
7 Wimbledon 5-2 Oldham Athletic 12th December 1992
7 Arsenal 4-3 Southampton 20th March 1993
7 Leeds United 5-2 Blackburn Rovers 10th April 1993
7 Sheffield Wednesday 5-2 Southampton 12th April 1993
7 Oldham Athletic 4-3 Southampton 8th May 1993
7 Southampton 4-3 Ipswich Town 13th March 1993
7 Queens Park Rangers 4-3 Nottingham Forest 10th April 1993
7 Manchester City 2-5 Everton 8th May 1993
7 Blackburn Rovers 2-5 Coventry City 26th January 1993

 

YOUNGEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Chris Price Crystal Palace 3-3 Blackburn Rovers 16 years, 9 months, 22 days 15th August 1992
Rob Bowman Wimbledon 1-0 Leeds United 17 years, 2 months, 13 days 6th February 1993
Gavin McGowan Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 Arsenal 17 years, 3 months, 20 days 6th May 1993
Andy Turner Southampton 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur 17 years, 4 months, 23 days 15th August 1992
Willie Boland Chelsea 2-1 Coventry City 17 years, 8 months, 25 days 1st May 1993
Nicky Butt Manchester United 3-0 Oldham Athletic 17 years, 8 months, 23 days 21st November 1992
George Ndah Liverpool FC 5-0 Crystal Palace 17 years, 8 months, 25 days 28th November 1992
Tony Sheridan Leeds United 2-2 Coventry City 17 years, 10 months 31st October 1992
Neal Bartlett Southampton 0-1 Manchester City 17 years, 11 months, 5 days 1st May 1993
Chris Bart-Williams Everton 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday 18 years, 10 days 15th August 1992

 

OLDEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Trevor Francis Ipswich Town 0-1 Sheffield Wednesday 38 years, 10 months, 19 days 10th March 1993
Mervyn Day Everton 2-0 Leeds United 37 years, 6 months, 21 days 16th January 1993
Kevin Moran Manchester United 3-1 Blackburn Rovers 37 years, 4 days 3rd May 1993
Peter Reid Manchester City 1-1 Wimbledon 36 years, 10 months, 1 day 21st April 1993
Viv Anderson Queens Park Rangers 3-1 Sheffield Wednesday 36 years, 9 months, 12 days 11th May 1993
Gerry Peyton Chelsea 0-2 Sheffield Wednesday 36 years, 8 months, 10 days 30th January 1993
Ray Wilkins Queens Park Rangers 3-1 Sheffield Wednesday 36 years, 7 months, 27 days 11th May 1993
Bryan Robson Wimbledon 1-2 Manchester United 36 years, 3 months, 27 days 8th May 1993
Gordon Strachan Liverpool FC 2-0 Leeds United 26 years, 2 months, 12 days 21st April 1993
John Wark Ipswich Town 2-1 Nottingham Forest 35 years, 9 months, 4 days 8th May 1993

 

CLEAN SHEETS

Position Player Teams No of Clean Sheets
1 Bobby Mimms Blackburn Rovers 19
2 Peter Schmeichel Manchester United 18
3 David Seaman Arsenal 15
4 Hans Segers Wimbledon 13
5 Neville Southall Everton 12
6= John Lukic Leeds United 11
6= Tony Coton Manchester City 11
6= Bryan Gunn Norwich City 11
6= Nigel Martyn Crystal Palace 11
10 Erik Thorstvedt Tottenham Hotspur 10

Shock Results: Norwich City 2-0 Manchester United (April 2005)

Goalscorers: Dean Ashton 55, Leon McKenzie 66

Teams:

Norwich City: Robert Green, Thomas Helveg, Craig Fleming, Jason Shackell, Adam Drury, Graham Stuart (David Bentley 45), Youssef Safri, Damien Francis, Darren Huckerby (Andreas Jonson 86), Dean Ashton (Matias Svensson 84), Leon McKenzie

Manchester United: Tim Howard, Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, Mikael Silvestre, Gabriel Heinze, Kleberson (Ruud van Nistelrooy 63), Phil Neville, Paul Scholes, Quinton Fortune (Wayne Rooney 45), Alan Smith, Louis Saha (Cristiano Ronaldo 22)

Referee: Howard Webb, Attendance: 25,522

Norwich City went into this match bottom of the Premier League table and seven points adrift of safety. Nigel Worthington’s side hadn’t won in the league since beating West Bromwich Albion 3-2 in early February. It is fair to say that they weren’t given much hope against a Manchester United side that still had a very slender chance of catching runaway league leaders Chelsea.

Those hopes were extinguished in East Anglia on a breezy Saturday evening. Norwich simply needed the points and put in the kind of performance that almost produced a stunning revival in their quest to stay among the elite.

Already aware that Chelsea had dropped points at home to Birmingham City earlier in the day, the Red Devils’ had an opportunity to crank up some late pressure on Jose Mourinho’s side. Their response here was lacklustre to say the least. Sir Alex Ferguson was so furious; he refused to speak to any media outlets after the game, including the club’s own television station. It was the first time since launching in 1998 that MUTV didn’t get a full-time reaction from the boss.

His decision to leave Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Ruud van Nistelrooy on the bench was an indication that he wasn’t happy before the match. United had only mustered one goal in their previous three outings. They also failed to register in their UEFA Champions League exit at the hands of AC Milan. Ronaldo was on though within 20 minutes as Louis Saha limped out of the contest with a calf injury and Rooney was thrown on at half-time to give Alan Smith some much-needed support in attack.

However, the England striker’s first contribution was not a great one. He fouled Darren Huckerby in the 55th minute and conceded a free-kick. From the resultant delivery, Dean Ashton climbed above everyone else to guide a header past Tim Howard. The Canaries’ had brought on David Bentley at half-time and he had more of a significant impact than Rooney, even if the striker had the visitors’ best effort, forcing Robert Green into a great save shortly after United went behind.

Van Nistelrooy arrived to sharpen things up but even he looked out-of-sorts and on 66 minutes, the game was put beyond Ferguson’s side. Rooney was outmuscled out of possession by the excellent Youssef Safri. He found Ashton who produced the perfect delivery for his strike partner Leon McKenzie to volley home from close range.

Norwich managed to win four of their next six matches but a 6-0 defeat at Fulham on the final day sent the Canaries’ down back to the Championship. Manchester United’s season tailed off dramatically after this display. They were beaten by Everton and Chelsea in the run-in and dropped to third. They then lost the FA Cup final on penalties to Arsenal to complete a trophy less season.

This result didn’t have much consequence ultimately but it was a sweet day for all connected with Norwich City.