Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole.

#Treble99: The story of United in October 1998

This season marks 20 years since Manchester United's incredible Treble success of 1998/99, where United claimed all three of the biggest prizes available to them.

To celebrate the anniversary of that miraculous season, we're following the story month-by-month throughout the current campaign. After a mixed start, October saw the Reds hitting their straps, rising to second in the league, and plundering goals thanks to the discovery of a deadly new striking duo...
 
OVERVIEW
 
Having ended September with a four-game run of facing Barcelona, Arsenal, Bayern Munich and Liverpool, United’s mettle had been sternly tested by the best at home and abroad. Now, it was time to start putting points on the board.
 
Alex Ferguson’s ongoing squad rotation meant a start for Andy Cole alongside Dwight Yorke upfront as the Reds visited Southampton, and it would transpire to be a watershed afternoon for United’s season.
 
“I said to myself: ‘You’re going to get a game today, so just enjoy it,”
recalled Cole.
“Everything we did just worked a dream. Afterwards the manager said he had stumbled on something, and it was stumbled on!”
 
Both strikers scored – as did substitute Jordi Cruyff – to give United a first win at the Dell since 1993, and the slick, incisive manner of the victory augured well for the weeks and months ahead.
 
With both Cole and Yorke spending the ensuing international break at the club’s Cliff training ground, the pair began to work on their chemistry. The results, Wimbledon soon found, were startling. Once again, both strikers scored – Cole netting two, while Ryan Giggs and David Beckham also struck – but the joyous fluidity of United’s entire attack left Dons manager Joe Kinnear to shrug:
“There’s no shame in getting beaten by a side like United.”

Manchester United 5-1 WimbledonVideo

Brondby were next in the Reds’ firing line, and a then-competition record away win duly followed. A Giggs brace set the scoring underway, both Cole and Yorke netted, while both Roy Keane and substitute Ole Gunnar Solskjaer steered in sublime efforts to ratchet up a barnstorming 6-2 win in Denmark.
 
“The only surprise for me was that United didn’t get four or five more,”
admitted Brondby manager Ebbe Skovdahl.
 
Perhaps unavoidably after hitting such a pace, United would need to draw breath. Derby County were well-drilled and savvy when welcoming the Reds to Pride Park, and the Rams shut down the flanks before nudging into a deserved late lead through Deon Burton. The day was saved, however, by the introduction of goalscoring substitute Cruyff – who notched his second goal in four cameos, having previously gone 16 months without a goal.
 
Even though his side was hot on the heels of league leaders Aston Villa, Ferguson could not countenance dropping points, and warned his side:
“We gave the ball away too easily, that was a problem. There was a lot of carelessness from us.”
There could be no such slackness in the first one-off knockout of the season, as Bury arrived at Old Trafford for a Worthington Cup third-round tie laced with romance for Phil Neville.
 
“It was a proud moment for a Bury lad,”
reflected the Reds’ skipper for the night, who led his side to a hard-fought win after extra-time goals from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Erik Nevland.
 
Having taken the opportunity to rest his first-team regulars, Ferguson saw no ill-effects of the 120-minute epic when his side next took to the field just three days later against Everton.
 
This time, the Yorke-Cole axis was reunited and reinvigorated, both strikers scoring either side of a Dave Watson own-goal, while man-of-the-match Jesper Blomqvist capped a sensational display with his first – and only – goal for the club as United’s devastating goalscoring run continued.
 
With 10 games gone in the league season, the Reds had notched just one goal fewer than leaders Aston Villa and champions Arsenal combined – a statement of intent for the month ahead.
Jesper puts Wimbledon to the sword on the way to a 5-1 victory.
PLAYER IN FOCUS: JESPER BLOMQVIST
 
United’s 1997/98 ambitions had been hit hard by a late-season injury to Ryan Giggs, prompting the enlistment of Swedish speedster Jesper Blomqvist as backup. The newcomer took centre stage in October, tearing it up against Southampton, Wimbledon and Brondby before notching his solitary Reds goal during another thrilling display at Everton.
 
TREBLE MOMENTUM MOMENT
 
There were countless goals of timeless brilliance littered throughout the course of the Treble season but, in terms of sheer importance, Jordi Cruyff’s bobbling equaliser at Derby bore comparison with almost any of them. A sluggish United found themselves stifled by Jim Smith’s Rams at Pride Park, then trailing with just 15 minutes remaining when Deon Burton steered in a deserved opener. Cue a triple substitution –
“I’d have brought on four if I could have,”
joked Ferguson – which included Cruyff’s introduction. With four minutes left, the Dutchman nodded down to Andy Cole, accepted the return and quickly unleashed a shot from the edge of the area which rolled past a scrambling Russell Hoult to nab an invaluable point.
 
Roy Keane was later named the Premiership Player of the Month for October.
THIS MONTH'S STATS

RESULTS
 
3 Oct 1998: Southampton 0-3 United
(Premier League)
17 Oct 1998: United 5-1 Wimbledon
(Premier League)
21 Oct 1998: Brondby 2-6 United
(Champions League group stage)
24 Oct 1998: Derby 1-1 United
(Premier League)
28 Oct 1998: United 2-0 Bury AET
(League Cup third round)
31 Oct 1998: Everton 1-4 United
(Premier League)
LEAGUE POSITION (as of 31 October 1998)
 

P

W

D

L

GD

PTS

1

Aston Villa

10

6

4

0

8

22

2

United

10

6

3

1

14

21

3

Arsenal

11

5

5

1

8

20

4

Liverpool

11

4

4

3

6

16

5

Middlesbrough

10

4

4

2

5

16

6

Chelsea

9

4

4

1

4

16


MOST APPEARANCES
 
6 – Phil Neville
 
MOST GOALS
 
5 – Cole
 
This article first appeared in Inside United, the club's official monthly magazine, which is marking the 20th anniversary of the Treble all season.

The Month We Met Barça And Bayern article

As our series to mark United's Treble anniversary continues, we review the second month of an unprecedented campaign.

Coley's all-time United XI article

Find out who Andy Cole has selected in an ultimate line-up of his former Reds team-mates.

Andy Cole's Treble tales article

Legendary striker Andy Cole gives United Review a fascinating insight into the shared mindset of our 1998/99 squad.

The story of our 6-2 win at Brondby article

Our #Treble99 series continues with a look back on a thumping win in Scandinavia for the trophy-bound Reds.