Glory Days: How United won the 1992/93 title

Saturday 02 May 2020 07:00

When the Reds were pipped to the Division One championship by Leeds in April 1992 there was utter dejection among fans, together with a pervading belief that Manchester United would never win the league title again.

Twelve months later the mood could not have been more of a contrast: desolation turning to elation as 26 years of disappointment gave way to scenes of wild jubilation.

Alex Ferguson's men had seen off Aston Villa by winning the final seven games to end the season 10 points clear. But the winning margin was mere detail; the only thing that mattered to United players, staff and supporters was that the title had finally been won and the wait of almost three decades was over.

Early-season signs had suggested anything but a glorious ending. The hangover of the late title capitulation to Leeds was a long one – lasting until the fourth game of the campaign. Opening-day defeat at Sheffield United (2-1) was followed by a home defeat to Everton (0-3), and then a disappointing home draw with Ipswich Town (1-1).

A run of five straight wins briefly raised spirits and expectation, but there followed a further string of disappointing results that led to United exiting the UEFA Cup on away goals to Torpedo Moscow and going out of the League Cup to Aston Villa. A lack of goals was threatening to derail another title tilt.

On 26 November, United were seventh in the Premier League, five points adrift of leaders Blackburn, but the Reds' fortunes were about to change dramatically. Leeds director Bill Fotherby phoned United chairman Martin Edwards to enquire about the availability of Denis Irwin, and Sir Alex happened to be in Edwards' office – the boss countered with an enquiry about Eric Cantona. A day later the Frenchman was unveiled as our new signing with the boss telling the press: "I always talk to my staff before signing players and I can assure you nobody attempted to cast doubt on this one."

Cantona's arrival galvanised the Reds, leading to a 10-game unbeaten run in which he scored four times but created numerous goals for others. He was clearly the key to unlocking stubborn defences and, as Sir Alex later put it, "the final piece in the jigsaw".

An FA Cup exit to Sheffield United at Bramall Lane in February allowed the Reds to focus on the title charge. It was shaping up as a three-way race between United, Aston Villa and Norwich City, but after a shock away defeat to Oldham Athletic (0-1), then three straight draws, and just two goals, the initiative seemed to shift towards Villa. Another title slipping away?

Cantona's signing in November proved to be key.

Not a bit of it. Seven straight wins – including a Steve Bruce brace against Sheffield Wednesday and the 21-minute demolition of Norwich – took the Reds to the finish line. Villa lost to Oldham sparking the biggest party in Manchester for years, reaching a crescendo the following evening when Old Trafford rocked to the tune of "Champions".

Goals from Ryan Giggs, Paul Ince and Gary Pallister saw off Blackburn for the crowning glory to a wonderful season.

Bruce and Bryan Robson became the first men to lift the new Premier League trophy, watched by an emotional Sir Matt Busby. The long wait was over.

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