It’s a measure of United’s modern-day success that three years without a league title felt like an eternity. But Sir Alex Ferguson’s rebuilding process, which began when David Beckham left the Reds at the end of the 2002/03 campaign, finally bore fruit in 2006/07 as the Reds held off Chelsea’s challenge and were crowned kings of England for a 16th time.
A summer acquisition from Spurs, England midfielder Michael Carrick would prove influential in the Reds’ title triumph, featuring in 34 of the 38 league games. Also key was the attacking threat posed by Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney. Between them, the pair scored almost 40 per cent of United’s league goals, including three in the 5-1 win against Fulham on the opening day.
That blistering start was a hint of what was to come. Over the next nine months, Sir Alex’s men were consistently brilliant, perhaps producing the most exciting football seen at Old Trafford since the classic counter-attacking side of 1994.
After that opening-day rout, the Reds beat Charlton Athletic, Watford and Tottenham before defeat against Arsenal and a draw at Reading blunted momentum. United then embarked on a seven-game winning run including an impressive 4-0 victory at the Reebok Stadium, in which Rooney grabbed a hat-trick, and a 2-0 home win over Liverpool.
Defeat away at West Ham on 17 December was just the second defeat of the season; a fortnight later, the Reds started the New Year seven points clear of Chelsea. January brought a surprise or two, including the capture of legendary Swedish striker Henrik Larsson on a short-term loan.
Sir Alex's men negotiated both February and March without defeat, before slipping up at Portsmouth in early April. Chelsea had done well to keep pace with the Reds, though, and their win against Tottenham drew them to within three points.
The gap was the same when United travelled to Goodison Park at the end of the month, with Chelsea hosting Bolton simultaneously. It was make or break, and things didn’t look good when the Reds went 2-0 down just after half-time.