Don’t forget, a season so often recalled for its glorious climax – a thrilling Champions League victory in Moscow – also yielded domestic success for the Reds.
Ten days before United edged out Chelsea on penalties in the pouring Russian rain, Sir Alex’s men clinched a 17th English league title on an equally sodden final day of a roller-coaster league campaign.
Victory against Wigan Athletic at the JJB Stadium was enough to crown United kings of England, as rivals Chelsea could only draw at home to Bolton.
It was an exciting culmination to a season in which the Reds had often turned on the style. Much of it came from Cristiano Ronaldo, who netted 31 league goals and was later voted the World Footballer of the Year.
The Reds did start slowly, though: two draws and a loss gave United a total of just two points after three games before Sir Alex’s men won four of the next five league games 1-0. It wasn’t until late September that United scored twice in the same game, as new signing Carlos Tevez and Louis Saha netted one apiece to sink Chelsea at Old Trafford.
Then came Ronaldo’s first league goal, in a 1-0 away win at Birmingham. It was the moment his season clicked into gear; in the next 12 league fixtures he netted 12 goals to help propel United to second spot by the turn of the year. Among those goals were braces against Wigan, Blackburn, Fulham and Everton. His first (and only, as it turned out) hat-trick had to wait until 12 January, when United smashed six second-half goals past Newcastle at Old Trafford.
February’s Manchester derby defeat (a particularly poignant occasion, played 50 years after the Munich air crash) was one of only two losses the Reds suffered for the rest of the season, although it wasn’t all plain sailing on the way to another league title.
Sir Alex’s men also drew away at Tottenham, Middlesbrough and Blackburn, with the other defeat coming against title rivals Chelsea in April. That