Glory Days: How United won the title in 1999/2000

Wednesday 22 April 2020 12:00

Twenty years ago today, Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United wrapped up another championship triumph with victory over Southampton.

After the last-day drama of 1998/99 and the fight for Premier League supremacy with Arsenal (though we did then, of course, have to keep some of our powder dry for assaults on other fronts), the 1999/00 march to a 13th title couldn’t have been more different, with goals galore and a points chasm by the time the curtain fell. 

An astonishing 37 goals in our final 11 league games, all of which – unsurprisingly – were victories, sent the Reds 18 points clear of Arsene Wenger's men, with Leeds United (who'd had the temerity to top the table at the turn of the year) hanging in there for third.
The 1999/2000 squad celebrates the title at Old Trafford in May.
The early signs weren't entirely convincing, with defeat to Arsenal in the Charity Shield, and an opening-day draw at Goodison Park. But the Reds then hit full stride, clocking up six wins on the spin – including, gloriously, at Highbury and Anfield – to dispel suggestions of any hangover from the incredible Treble triumph. 

It was also an encouraging start to life after the 'Great Dane', with the task of replacing Red legend Peter Schmeichel falling to Mark Bosnich – though Raimond van der Gouw and (to a lesser extent) Massimo Taibi also chipped in when a hamstring injury ruled the Aussie stopper out for a spell early in the season. 

Of course Bosnich's stint as no.1 would be relatively short-lived, with Sir Alex swooping for French World Cup winner Fabien Barthez almost before the 2000 championship celebrations had died away, but as United racked up a sixth title in eight seasons, Bosnich stuck to his task as the Reds lost just three times all season.
If there was such a thing as a sticky spell in a season that ended with a gleeful romp to the title, it came around the midway point, with the aforementioned Leeds leapfrogging United as the new millennium dawned. 

But despite our FIFA World Club Championship commitments, the gap never caused any great concern as Roy Keane and co showed few signs of jet lag on their return from Brazil; on the contrary, the Reds seemed positively energised by the transatlantic travails. 
Roy Keane more than deserved to win the PFA Player of the Year award that season.

After being held by Arsenal in the first post-New Year outing, Sir Alex's men won 15 of the remaining 18 league games, with a 3-0 reverse at St lames' Park (when two bookings for Keane reduced the Reds to 10 men just after an hour) the only blip. 

Moreover the final run-in included a 7-1 humbling of West Ham (complete with a Paul Scholes hat-trick), after the Londoners had taken an early OT lead – and then lived to regret it. 

The title was wrapped up on the south coast, United claiming a sixth Premier League crown with a 3-1 win over Southampton on 22 April 2000, with four games to spare.

This feature first appeared in United Review, the match programme at Old Trafford.

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