1986. 25 long years ago. I vividly remember seeing Sir Alex's appointment being announced on Teletext's newsflash section, a handy device that allowed you to watch the TV and check on any breaking stories. It was the height of technical sophistication in those days. This was a 'newsflash' too, not a mere 'sportsflash'. United have always been big news.
Having followed the manager's success with Aberdeen in Europe via Sportsnight and/or Midweek Sports Special - a rare opportunity to watch football highlights - it appeared to be an intriguing appointment. But the times were so different, it's important to put things into context. Dundee United were also pretty accomplished at the art of European football, beating Barcelona if I remember rightly. I even recall Newport County making a good fist of it one year.
Ron Atkinson had gone but he was the man who took United to two FA Cup finals and won them both, seemingly showing me the very heights of ecstacy that football can bring any supporter. Sir Alex had a stellar reputation, he'd even coached Scotland at the World Cup earlier that year folowing Jock Stein's dramatic and terrible death. But how would he fare in England? How could the Reds possibly hope to overhaul all-conquering and tiresomely effective Liverpool? It seemed a world away, it really did.
So what else was happening in 1986? The Chernobyl nuclear disaster occured in the April but at least Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan had started peace talks. The M25 was finally completed. Halley's Comet was visible from the Earth. The United Kingdom and France announced exciting plans for a Channel Tunnel. A litre of petrol was 38p. The price of stamps had just risen to 18p and 13p.
On the sporting front, Mike Tyson became the youngest heavyweight world champion in history - I was among a group of United fans gathering outside a high street electrical shop to catch a glimpse one of his brutal batterings in the TVs in the window before an away game. Yes, people really did that in those days. Mike Gatting's team won the Ashes in