Saturday, January 26, 2008

Memories of 1995-'96: Keegan’s revisionism runs out of steam...

Being a United fanatic, no obsessive, I will always remember the 1995/6 season with great affection.

We’d dispensed with the services of Ince, Hughes and Kanchelskis and replaced them with home grown youth squad members, now household names – Beckham, Scholes, Butt, to name a few.

The season didn’t quite get off to a flyer. 3-0 down at half-time at Villa Park. Even after dominating the second half we still came away defeated 3-1. Match of the Day that evening gave birth to the, never to be forgotten, faux pas by a certain Mr Hansen. “You don’t win ‘owt with kids”.

Three games (two home wins) later these “kids” outplayed, outfought and generally dismantled the “champions” Blackburn in their own back yard. A night away match to rival any in the ensuing years.

However, there were no visions of impending greatness’ or glory, certainly not this season. A run of five winless games from the end of November into December, which included damaging defeats by our two fiercest rivals Liverpool and Leeds, appeared to put paid to any title aspirations. The FA Cup looked our best bet after Rotor Volgograd and York City had ended our UEFA and Coca Cola cup dreams at the first hurdle.

Wednesday 27th December came the possible turning point. Newcastle, top of the league, by some distance, were the visitors to Old Trafford. On a bitterly cold night, I think it’s safe to say that Newcastle received a 2-0 hammering – it was a tremendous performance by the Reds, typified by Roy Keane.

We went on to win seven of our next 10 games, including a famous, somewhat fortunate 1-0 victory at St James’s Park, where Schmichael probably had his best game for us. The final game of this run was a 1-1 draw at QPR with Cantona scoring an injury time equaliser. This put us top of the league and the dreaming began.

Eight games to glory – we won seven of them, the only “blip” being the grey shirt fiasco at Southampton (even the most ardent of Reds are embarrassed by this excuse).

It was undoubtedly an exciting season; Newcastle finished second, some four points behind us but could still have snatched it on the final day. We finished as top scorers in the league with 73 (Newcastle 66) and only Arsenal had a better defence.

To put the icing, cherry, brandy, champagne and white chocolate sauce on the cake, we won the FA Cup beating our close friends from the wrong end of the East Lancs and city got relegated.

Seasons don’t come better that this – or so we though until 1998/99.

However, listening to Kevin Keegan’s interview on Sky Sports today, I’ve got it totally wrong. He claims that the Arsenal side of today are the closest thing to his Newcastle side of that that season “the only difference is that we ran out of steam”.

Kevin, me old son, you’re doing United (and Arsenal) a great disservice and injustice by claiming such a preposterous thing. Yes, you did have an exciting, attack minded team but where was the intricate passing similar to Arsenal? I certainly can’t remember it.

The young United, despite being 12 points behind you at one point, stuck to the task and played some scintillating football, please give us some credit and stop wallowing this nostalgic nonsense.


1 comment:

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