To mark the 10th anniversary of RoM, there will be several articles remembering some of the best moments for Manchester United fans over the past decade. Muhammad has spoken about one of his favourite memories.
One would think it’d be difficult to pick a favourite moment from the last decade, with so many amazing ones to choose from, but it’s actually incredibly easy. 10 years ago Chelsea looked an unassailable juggernaut. Two Titles in two years while United appeared to have lost their touch. Losing big matches became a sad habit.
So when United found themselves 5 points clear of Chelsea with three games to play in the 2006-07 season, people were uneasy about believing. United had been sensational for the entire campaign but the fans were just a few days removed from seeing their team beaten senseless by AC Milan in the Champions League. The side that was one game away from their first European Final since 1999 fell to bits at the crucial hurdle in Northern Italy, and now came back to Northern England for a Manchester Derby.
Midday on a Saturday, three days after that loss, playing away at Eastlands (now Etihad) Stadium, a ground where the previous season they were tonked 3-1. Even with City’s struggles, it felt bad coming in. United’s young side looked exhausted and when Michael Ball wasn’t sent off for stamping on Cristiano Ronaldo, they began to fear the worst.
Chelsea played away at Arsenal the next day, and a few days after that United had to travel to West London to face the Blues. The men at Sky were licking their lips for a potential Title Clash, but United fans could sense the momentum draining from their side and feared the worst; fail to beat City, lose to Chelsea, and the Londoners would retain their Title for a second time.
Sir Alex and his players had other ideas.
The game itself was terrible, with only two key highlights. With half an hour gone Michael Ball fell for a stepover, fouled Cristiano, and the ref called for a penalty. Cristiano stuttered up to the spot in his classic fashion and screwed it into the bottom corner. Then with ten minutes to go Ball somehow won a penalty for City. Vassell stepped up, but Edwin Van Der Sar gave us a glimpse of the future and saved the spot-kick with his legs. That was it. United won 1-0.
And suddenly, everything changed. Eight points clear of Chelsea, needing just a point from the remaining two games to clinch the Title. The pessimism was gone and suddenly United were United again. They weren’t going to throw it away, hell, they had it in the bag! Ultimately it was won without having to kick a ball. Chelsea drew 1-1 at the Emirates and Manchester United were the Champions of England for the first time in four years. The seasons that followed delivered glory upon glory, but none of it would have happened without that slogfest at Eastlands. My favourite moment; simply because it was when a young, tired and weak Manchester United returned to Sir Alex Ferguson’s most basic tenet and, against all odds, found a way to win.