Our title countdown continues, looking back at the unforgettable Treble season...
Unless you were living down a well or being held prisoner in Amish country, there’s a good chance you’re aware of how 1999 panned out. But can you remember how it began? No? Then we’ll tell you.
The team that created footballing history, the players whose feats propelled them to Stretford End immortality, started the season by blundering to a 2-2 draw at home to Leicester City.
If the result that day provided little clue to the glories that lay ahead, the same could not be said of United’s point-salvaging goal: a miracle strike, on this occasion from David Beckham, deep into injury time. As has been so often the case under Sir Alex, we didn’t truly start motoring until it mattered most.
With strikers Dwight Yorke, a surprise pre-season buy from Aston Villa, and Andy Cole leading from the front, United remained unbeaten from 19 December until the end of the season. Yorke and Cole hit a combined 35 goals in the league alone (both scored in the same game six times).
In midfield, Roy Keane was immense, missing just three games, while at the back, Jaap Stam, another summer signing, more than justified his status as the world’s priciest defender.
And when he was needed, as always, there was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, weighing in with 12 goals in just 19 appearances (10 as sub), a tally that included an astonishing four goals in a 10-minute spell after coming off the bench in an 8-1 victory at Nottingham Forest.
Through April, United and Arsenal remained neck-and-neck and another last-day decider was required. Thanks to Cole’s 17th of the season in a 2-1 home win over Spurs, the Reds prevailed by a point – the same margin as Arsène Wenger’s team had enjoyed 12 months earlier. Revenge!