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. Craig English has spoken about one of his favourite memories.
There have been many great Manchester United moments in the last ten years and Cristiano Ronaldo is responsible for many of them, especially during the success laden years between 2006 and 2009. His Champions League final goal in ’08, his many spectacular freekicks – most notably against Arsenal and Portsmouth or perhaps his 40 yard+ goal against Porto. But the Ronaldo moment that sticks out in my mind is a solo run against Fulham in February 2007; which ended in him scoring an 88th minute winner that resulted in celebrations on the pitch and on the bench more akin to the Summer months than early Spring.
These celebrations weren’t led by the naïve youth, no, with Ryan Giggs jumping on young Ronaldo’s back and unused sub Gary Neville screaming delight straight into his face you got the feeling this goal mattered, this result mattered – United were about to end a three-year Premier League drought – the title was ours if we really wanted it.
Martin Tyler echoed the celebrations on the pitch when commenting “They’ve hit back… like potential champions”. And they were; United secured the first of three consecutive titles which also included a Champions League success. Looking back at that period of glory I always think of this moment, after a period of mild domination from Mourinho’s Chelsea, and the reaction to it – like a weight had been lifted as a new generation of Manchester United heroes emerged.
March 3rd 2007 was the date when United really believed they could go on and win the Premier League for the first time in three seasons. The year before, Sir Alex was being booed by United fans and the media was writing as if Fergie was already gone.
This time, United were played off the park and, had Cisse remembered how to finish chances, this memory wouldn’t exist. Thankfully Cisse missed his chances and 10-man United had a free kick in the 90th minute. Ronaldo decided to hit it low and hard towards goal and Louis Saha almost got the touch past Reina. However, the Liverpool keeper got behind the ball and parried it back towards the lethal Irish man.
At this point I’m at home with my Chelsea supporting brother and uncle, who are Liverpool fans for the day. The ball rolls out to John O’Shea and time seems to slow down, and you are hoping that he smashes it straight into the roof of the net. At the same time you are thinking ‘why O’Shea? Why not a striker or someone who we trust in these situations.’ Believe me, time slowed down that much that I had time to assess everything about that moment.
The ball finally reaches O’Shea and he actually smashes it first time into the roof of the net. Cue explosion of all kinds of emotions, happiness, relief, shock and finally delirious celebrations. If I had a photographic memory I would have stored the look on my relatives’ faces as they watched me screaming with joy. But I don’t, so I have to make do with Gary Neville and Edwin Van der Sar celebrating with our away fans.
Of course, United go on and win the league for the next three seasons. Would that have happened if O’Shea wasn’t there to put the ball in the scourers net?