Football League Division One
Saturday 8 November 1986
Manor Ground, Oxford
OXFORD UNITED 2
Aldridge pen., Slatter
MANCHESTER UNITED 0
Manchester United: Turner, Duxbury, Moran, Hogg, Albiston, Moses, McGrath, Blackmore, Barnes, Davenport, Stapleton. Sub: Olsen.
Genius doesn’t always fanfare its arrival from the rooftops. It is often heralded by the most inauspicious of starts. And while in hindsight Oxford, fabled for its dreaming spires, seems a highly appropriate setting for new Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson to have begun his grand design, the reality of a wintry Manor Ground on Saturday 8 November 1986 was rather different.
United, with 44 year-old Ferguson introduced to the troops as Ron Atkinson’s successor just 48 hours earlier, went down 2-0 amid the kind of media scrum that has been part and parcel of life for those connected with Old Trafford since time immemorial. As the new boss said of his decision to leave the stand for the dug-out at half-time that day: “To be honest, I’m glad it’s over. It was a bit of a nightmare trying to concentrate on the match with the cameraman on top of you. All the media attention is not easy to accept.” The more things change the more they stay the same…