Glory Days: The 1995/96 Premier League title
Twenty-four years ago today, United – and a team packed with kids – recaptured our league crown, with victory down by the Riverside…
“You can't win anything with kids. The trick to winning a championship is having strength in depth and they [United] just haven't got it.”
“To call them 'kids' is condescending,”the boss later hit back.
“Brought up in the traditions of Manchester United, the likes of Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers are mature young men who are more than capable of winning trophies. They're good enough, so they're old enough.”
1995/96 PL GoalsVideo
“I would love it if we beat them... love it”rant at Ferguson following Newcastle's 1-0 win at Leeds.
“We travelled to Middlesbrough on the last day of the season needing to win to be crowned champions. The previous campaign, my first at the club, we had lost the league on the last day of the season by drawing at West Ham, as we were edged out by Blackburn Rovers then beaten in the FA Cup final by Everton a week later.
“It was surreal how the Premier League title was decided on the last day of the season for the second successive year. And after what had happened 12 months earlier we were determined not to make the same mistake again. Not only did we win at Middlesbrough, but the following week beat Liverpool to lift the FA Cup to complete the domestic Double.
“To get into a position where we had to win at Boro on the last day to win the title was remarkable in itself. We'd been written off on the first day of the season by Alan Hansen who, after our defeat at Aston Villa, told the nation that we wouldn't win anything with kids. But Eric Cantona returned after serving a lengthy suspension following his 'misdemeanor' at Crystal Palace and inspired the team.
“Newcastle blew a 12-point lead and Kevin Keegan had his famous rant at the manager, who had been playing his usual mind games. I never thought for one moment we would lose at the Riverside – and we won emphatically, with a 3-0 scoreline.
“Brian McClair said before the game I would score, something I didn't do very often. At kind odds of 66/1, some of my mates put £10 on me – so they had a great weekend when I scored the opener! I remember my first half goal well. I went up for a Ryan Giggs corner and got up early above defender Steve Vickers, who I used as a lever, to score with a header. For a defender to score at any time is fantastic, but for me to do so in such a significant game made it even more special.
“Giggsy scored our second with a screamer, then Andy Cole came on as a substitute to score our third late in the game. Once we’d scored our second goal it was very much a case of keeping the ball and running the clock down. We were unaware how second-placed Newcastle were doing against Tottenham in their last game because we simply had to concentrate on our job – our destiny was in our own hands.
“It was an amazing feeling when the final whistle sounded and we knew we had won the Premier League, especially for Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, David Beckham, the Neville brothers, myself and Andy Cole as it was our first medal with United.
“It had been a long, hard season after chasing Newcastle for most of the campaign, but we'd managed to claw back their big lead to pip them to the title. It is all about winning at United so to complete the Double that season is something I will always cherish.”