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28/05/2017 18:03

Manchester United, Qualified Success

Manchester United have always been linked with European soccer for the simple reason that manager, Matt Busby, who was knighted by England`s queen Elizabeth II, after his team won the 1968 European Cup, and became Sir Matt Busby, took the club into Europe to compete in the European Cup competition in 1956-57, and thereby United became the first English soccer team to compete in what became Europe`s premier contest between respective national soccer champions in a knockout two-leg tournament format, with a single Final game in a neutral European capital to determine which would be Europe`s Champions. Following their league title win the previous season, 1955-56, Manchester United first competed in European football competition in 1956–57. 1954–55 Football League winners Chelsea had been denied the opportunity to take part in the inaugural European Cup by The Football League's chairman Alan Hardaker, who feared that European football would damage the integrity of the English game. However, Matt Busby, the manager of Manchester United, was a forward-thinking man and was determined to have his young team, known as `the Busby Babes`, compete on the European stage. With the backing of The Football Association's chairman, Stanley Rous (who would later go on to become the president of FIFA), Manchester United were allowed to compete in the 1956–57 European Cup culminating with a semi-final tie against Real Madrid. The first leg took United to the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, where they were defeated, 3–1, in front of a crowd of 135,000. Although center forward, Tommy Taylor, scored on 82 minutes, 2-1, Enrique Mateos got a third for Madrid a minute after the restart. United were only able to draw 2–2 in the second leg back at Old Trafford, with Taylor and Charlton bringing the team back into the game after they were down, 0-2, and the club's first European season came to an end as Real Madrid went through, 5-3, on aggregate to a Final against Italy`s Fiorentina, which they won, 2-0, to record the second of what would eventually be five consecutive European Cup titles.

 After again winning the English title in 1956-57, Busby`s efforts to win the European Cup were curtailed in February, 1958, when the team that looked like winning its third consecutive English league title met with disaster returning from a European Cup quarter final with Red Star Belgrade that, although the leg ended 3-3, took United through to a semi-final with A.C. Milan, because United had won their home leg at Old Trafford, 2-1, coming from behind to win with goals from forward, Bobby Charlton in the 65th, and half back, Eddie Colman, in the 81st minute, after forward, Lazar Tasić, had opened the scoring for Belgrade in the 35th. The plane bringing the players back to Manchester crashed on take off at Germany`s Munich airport killing eight; reserve left back, Geoff Bent, captain for England and Manchester United, left back, Roger Byne, center half, Mark Jones, half backs Eddie Colman and Duncan Edwards, left wing, David Pegg, center forward, Tommy Taylor, and Ireland`s inside forward, Liam `Billy` Whelan. England`s right wing, Johnny Berry, never played again, and neither did inside forward, Jackie Blanchflower, brother of Danny, who captained Spurs to the league and F.A. Cup `double` in 1961, and said Jackie was a better player. The heart of England`s World Cup squad for Sweden in 1958 was ripped out. A patched up team beat Milan, 2-1, in the first leg, again coming from behind after a strike from inside forward, Pepe Schiaffino, in the 24th minute. United`s center forward, Denis Viollet, who`d scored in the second minute of the 3-3 away draw in Belgrade, before Charlton netted twice more in the 30th and 31st minutes, 3-0, got the equalizer against Milan in the 39th minute, and inside forward, Ernie Taylor, bought from Aston Villa after the disaster, struck home a late penalty in the 80th minute to give the team a slim advantage, but they were overwhelmed, 4-0, at the San Siro in Italy.

 Although Busby`s 1968 European Cup side that beat Benfica, 4-1, after a rare opening headed goal from deep-lying center forward, Bobby Charlton, cancelled out by Portugal`s right wing, Jaime Graca, 1-1, provided players for the successful England World Cup campaign of 1966, that is, right winger, John Connelly, and Charlton and central defender Nobby Stiles, who played in the Final against Germany, which England won, 4-2, it`s sure that soccer history would`ve been different had United`s players that lost their lives in the snow at Munich airport lived. That was but the first setback to United`s campaigning to qualify for and win the top European prizes. Although qualification for the European Cup was simple, the club had to win the league, which it did in 1964-65 and, after losing in the 1966 semi-final to Partizan Belgrade, 1-2, with Nobby Stiles getting United`s only goal in the 1-0 second home leg win in the 72nd minute, the club went on to qualify again by winning the English league in 1966-67, which resulted in the club winning the European Cup of 1968. Teenager Brian Kidd headed in for United`s third against Benfica, and Charlton scored from an acute angle with a dipping volley, 4-1. United would make the semi-final stage against A.C. Milan the following 1968-69 season, but lost, 2-1, on aggregate, with only Charlton replying for the `Red Devils` in the 70th minute of the second leg at Old Trafford, before Milan went on to defeat Ajax, 4-1, in the Final.

 The European Cup Winners Cup was simple too. The F.A. Cup winners qualified, and so Manchester United competed in the 1963-64 competition as winners of the 1963 F.A. Cup Final against Leicester City, with goals from Scots` center forward, Denis Law, and England center forward, David Herd. On 30 minutes, Leicester`s England `keeper, Gordon Banks, opted to bowl the ball out to Scots` inside left, Dave Gibson, which United`s Scots` midfielder, Paddy Crerand,  read. Racing in to intercept twenty-five yards out, Crerand passed to  Law, who turned and fired past Banks and two defenders to open the scoring, 1-0. On 57 minutes a cross field ball from United right wing, Johnny Giles, found Charlton unmarked. He raced into the box, and Banks could only parry the shot into the path of Herd, who tapped into the empty net, 2-0. Leicester center forward, Ken Keyworth, scored from a diving header in the 80th minute, after a weak shot from Scots` central defender, captain Frank McLintock, instead found Keyworth in the United` penalty area, 2-1. In the 85th minute Banks came for a Giles cross, and fumbled the ball into the path of Herd, who turned and fired past two defenders on the goal line, 3-1.

 In an amazing turnaround, Manchester United managed to lose their 1963-64 European Cup Winners Cup quarter-final with Sporting CP, who went on to win the trophy, after United led, 4-1, from their home leg at Old Trafford, but Sporting CP won the away leg, 5-0. Osvaldo da Silva, who`d looked like he`d scored only a consolation goal at Old Trafford, got a hat-trick, and although there`d been a hat-trick from Law in the home leg, before Charlton completed the scoring for United, 4-0, United`s stars didn`t shine in Lisbon. As runners-up in the 1963-64 league championship, United qualified for the Intercity Fairs Cup, which would be renamed the UEFA Cup in 1971 and, when it was amalgamated with the European Cup Winners Cup in 2004, it`d be renamed again as the Europa Cup played for in the UEFA Europa League. Reaching the semi-final stage in 1963-64, United beat Hungary`s Ferencváros, 3-2, with a penalty from Law and two goals from Herd at Old Trafford, but the team lost away, 1-0, in Budapest. Later, away goals counted double in the event of each team scoring the same number of goals, but then an eliminator was played and Ferencváros won, 2-1, with only a late 86th minute goal from England`s right wing, John Connelly replying for United, and Ferencváros went on to beat Italy`s Juventus, 1-0, in the Final.

 Busby`s retirement meant two things for United. The Inter City Fairs Cup had a `one club, one city` qualifying rule, which meant that, if Manchester City`s end of season league position was higher than United`s, if United qualified, they wouldn`t be admitted. The Inter City Fairs Cup`s inauguration was based on the idea that cities where trade fairs occurred would host a soccer tournament, and the first series took place between 1955 and 1958, when Manchester United were either winning the league championship in England (1955-56, 1956-57), or competing in the European Cup as champions (1956-57, 1957-58), before February 6, 1958, when the Munich air crash happened, and before the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, where players from the club were badly missed, and Brazil won the Final, 5-2, despite Sweden taking the lead through captain and inside left, Nils Liedholm. Brazil center forward, Vavá, then scored twice to make it 2-1, and twin striker, Pele, who would go on to win three World Cup Finals with Brazil (1962, 1970), got two more goals, sandwiched between a 68th minute strike from left wing, Mário Zagallo, to make it 5-2, after Sweden`s center forward, Agne Simonsson, had reduced the deficit, 4-2, in the 80th minute. The `one club, one city` rule for the Inter City Fairs Cup was perceived as restrictive by UEFA and the trophy was replaced by the UEFA Cup in 1971, although the number of teams allowed to compete in the Inter City Fairs Cup was now three from each country since 1962, and the `one club, one city` rule had also been abolished. For Manchester United, that meant league position and winning the League Cup were targets. The UEFA Cup came to be known as the `runners-up` Cup, and in England the League Cup Final winners were admitted, which was why a trophy United had seemingly abjured suddenly became important for Wilf McGuinness, Busby`s successor as manager, a coach at the club, who`d played as a half back in the Manchester United youth team of the 1950s, which was very successful, and indeed won the trophy on five occasions; 1952-53, 1953-54, 1954-55, 1955-56, and 1956-57. Wilf had been in the 1953-54 teams that beat Wolves, 5-4, on aggregate over two legs, and the 1954-55 teams that won over West Bromwich Albion, 7-1, and he`d captained the 1955-1956 teams, which defeated Chesterfield, 4-3. In 1956-57 he played 13 times for the team and received a championship medal for his contribution in the days before substitutes were allowed, and a runners-up medal in 1958-59 for his 39 league appearances. He made 19 appearances for the club in 1959-60, before a broken leg ended his career at the age of 22, and he became a coach; eventually replacing Jimmy Murphy as reserve team manager, after Murphy had steered a team featuring George Best to a sixth F. A. Youth Cup Final win in 1964 against Swindon, 5-2, on aggregate.

 Because of the vagaries of the Inter City Fairs Cup`s qualifying rules, Manchester United didn`t compete,  Because of the vagaries of the Inter City Fairs Cup`s qualifying rules, Manchester United didn`t compete, despite apparently qualifying as `runners-up` with the team McGuinness played for on 19 occasions in 1959-60, because the competition was biennial for the 1958-60 seasons. When McGuinness was manager, the UEFA Cup had replaced the Inter City Fairs Cup and winning the League Cup was important as a qualifying trophy. Consequently, United`s defeat in the semi-final stage in 1970, when they lost to Manchester City away, 1-2, and drew at Old Trafford, 2-2, in the second leg, 2-3, on aggregate, and in 1971 when they drew at home, 1-1, before losing away, 1-2, to lose to Aston Villa, 2-3, on aggregate, cost them the chance of qualifying for a place in the UEFA Cup for the 1970-1 season, and 1971-72 by winning the League Cup.  In 1970, a semi-final defeat to Leeds United in the 1969-70 F.A. Cup campaign, a tie that went to three games, after the first ended, 0-0, and the second also ended, 0-0,  before Leeds went through, 0-1, with a goal from Scots` captain and midfield general, Billy Bremner, after failing to qualify through the League Cup, cost Manchester United the chance to qualify for the European Cup Winners Cup by winning the 1970 F.A. Cup Final. McGuinness was criticised for keeping Scots` center forward, Denis Law, on the substitutes` bench throughout, in preference for Carlo Sartori, and failure to qualify for the UEFA Cup, or Cup Winners Cup, ultimately cost McGuinness his job on 29 December, 1970, just days after losing at Villa Park in the 1970-71 League Cup semi-final on December 23. Sir Matt Busby reassumed managerial responsibilities from his position as a director on the club board. McGuinness` failure to qualify for the European Cup, because of United`s failure to win the league, was also a factor in the board`s dismissal, and  Leicester City`s Frank O` Farrell became manager for the 1971-72 season.

 O` Farrell fared little better, and was sacked on December 19, 1972, when the appointment of the manager of Scotland`s national team, Tommy Docherty, was announced. Although Docherty steered United to relegation in 1972-73 amid acrimony over the team`s dismal performances, for example, `keeper Stepney was nominated penalty taker, because the outfield players wouldn`t accept the responsibility, and Irish midfielder, Sammy McIlroy, was top scorer with a paltry 6 goals. Docherty`s team won the Second Division championship in 1974-75, and appeared strong enough to finish third in the league in the 1975-76 season behind second place QPR, and champions, Liverpool, when the team also reached the F.A. Cup Final, which the club was easily expected to win against Southampton. The south coast team absorbed all of the pressure United could put on them to concede a goal, but won, 0-1, after an 83rd minute  Bobby Stokes` strike. Although Manchester United`s third place in the league did qualify the club for a place in the UEFA Cup for the 1976-77 campaign, it was a disappointment, and the team kept its promise to be back the following 1976-77 season and beat Liverpool, 2-1, with a shot on 51 minutes from England center forward, Stuart Pearson, bought by Docherty from Hull for £ 200, 000 to spearhead United`s attack in the Second Division. Pearson`s strike from his run at goal somehow snuck under England `keeper, Ray Clemence, and despite a 53rd minute equalizer from Liverpool`s hard shooting midfielder, Jimmy Case, United won 2-1, after a Lou Macari volley was deflected into the Liverpool net off the chest of Jimmy Greenhoff, who was awarded the goal on 56 minutes.


  United`s UEFA Cup campaign began against Ajax of Amsterdam, who were beaten on aggregate, 2-1, after United lost away, 0-1, and won at Old Trafford, 2-0, with goals on 42 minutes from diminutive Scot, Lou Macari, renowned for his prowess as a header of the ball despite his stature, and bought as a striker from Celtic by Docherty for £ 200, 000, and another in the 65th from Sammy McIlroy, who`d been dubbed `the last of the Busby Babes` when he`d made his debut in a game with Manchester City in which he scored during a 3-3 draw in 1971. United lost in the second round to Juventus of Italy, the eventual winners, despite winning, 1-0, at Old Trafford, thanks to a quick thinking volley from left winger, Gordon Hill, after right winger, Steve Coppell, back headed a forward ball by Northern Ireland`s right back, Jimmy Nicholl, who was out wide on the right and well behind the play,  to where Hill pounced. The partisan atmosphere of the Juventus Stadium in Turin was given as the reason for the defeat of `Doc`s Devils`, as they were known, 0-3. As with Busby`s `Babes`, no one will ever know what Docherty`s team could have achieved, because he was sacked after the Final for an alleged extra-marital affair with club physiotherapist Laurie Brown`s wife, Mary, which was a disaster almost equal to the Munich air crash. QPR manager, Dave Sexton, was subsequently appointed for the 1977-78 season in which United competed in the European Cup Winners Cup. After drawing with French side St. Etienne away, 1-1, United won at Old Trafford, 2-0, to go through to the second round where, in a disastrous tie with Porto of Portugal, United lost 4-0 away, and won, 5-2, at home, so losing 6-5 on aggregate. That the Portuguese conceded two own goals was a sign of the pressure Sexton`s team brought to bear at Old Trafford, but the awful defensive performance away made success a chimera before the game started. The following season Sexton`s United made it to the last minute of the F.A. Cup Final after a fight back from 0-2 down to be drawing 2-2 after goals from Gordon McQueen in the 86th minute, sent to play up front, because all the substitutes had been used, and the center back was injured, so McQueen would be a liability in defence, and midfielder Sammy McIlroy in the 88th minute. McQueen had been bought by Sexton, along with center forward, Joe Jordan, from Leeds United to give the team greater height in defence and attack, so it was a doubly ironic cross from Arsenal left winger, Graham Rix, that found the head of center forward, Alan Sunderland, who nodded it into the net almost on the `keeper`s line on 89 minutes, and Arsenal had won, 3-2.

 Dave Sexton did well in qualifying the club for the UEFA Cup through their league position in 1979-80, when the club finished just two points behind champions, Liverpool. The team lost the last game of the campaign, 0-2, at Leeds United`s Elland Road ground where, if it`d been 1981-82, they`d have had three points to take the title, because it was in 1981-82 that the three points for a win, instead of two, rule came into force in English soccer. As it was, Liverpool lost their final game at MIddlesboro, 0-1, because they could afford to. Even if United had beaten Leeds in the last game of the 1979-80 season, Liverpool`s superior goal difference of 51 would still have meant they`d take the title. In the 1980-81 UEFA Cup campaign, United encountered disappointment against Polish side, Widzew Lodz, drawing, 1-1, at Old Trafford, through a 4th minute Sammy McIlroy low driven shot at the 18 yard line, center, which the `keeper couldn`t stop from reaching the back of the net, left. The Poles responded almost immediately with a long range effort from a direct free kick taken by midfielder, Krzyst of Surlit, in the 6th minute. In Poland United drew, 0-0, so Widzew Lodz went through to the second round, because of the rule that away goals count double in the event of each side scoring the same number. By the commencement of the 1981-82 season, Sexton who`d paid more than £ 1 million for Nottingham Forest center forward, Gary Birtles, who didn`t score, was replaced by West Brom`s Ron Atkinson, who brought dynamic England midfield captain (1980-91), Bryan Robson, from his old club to join him at Old Trafford for £ 1. 5 million. It was Robson that put United ahead in the 1981-82 UEFA Cup second away leg against Spain`s Valencia in the 46th minute after a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford, but the team lost, 1-2.

 That 1982-83 season saw Manchester United qualify for the European Cup Winners Cup competition by winning the F.A. Cup, 4-0, against Brighton in a replay after the first game finished, 2-2. Robson had joined England captain (1976-86), Ray `Butch` Wilkins, in United`s midfield. Bought from Chelsea for £ 800, 000  at the start of the 1979-80 season by Dave Sexton, it was a long range 72nd minute floated curling effort underneath the bar from Ray`s left foot, after Dutchman, Arnold Mühren, had found him, with a pass from deep in midfield, on the right edge of the 18 yard box, that put United ahead, 2-1, in the first Final. Brighton`s Scots` center forward, Gordon Smith, headed in from a cross on the right  after 14 minutes. United center forward, Frank Stapleton, bought from Arsenal, where he`d scored for `the Gunners` in the 1979 Final against United, by `Big Ron` Atkinson for £ 900, 000 in 1981-82, tapped in a cross from right full back, Mike Duxbury, that somehow eluded everybody to reach the far post on 55 minutes, before Brighton`s center back, Gary Stevens, scored right footed inside the Reds` penalty area on 87 minutes to force the replay, which began well for United when Welshman, right winger Alan Davies, in for England`s injured Steve Coppell, tapped the ball back to Bryan Robson from left inside the 18 yard box. Robson sent in a low driven shot from towards the left of the 18 yard line to find the right corner of the Brighton net for an opener on 25 minutes, 1-0. Just 17 years old at season`s start, Northern Ireland`s international center forward in the summer`s World Cup FInals, Norman Whiteside, headed in from a right footed Davies cross from the  left of the box five minutes later, 2-0. On 44 minutes Gordon McQueen headed on a free-kick, and the ball fell to Robson to tap in at the far post. The game was put beyond Brighton in the second half when Mühren scored a penalty in the 62nd minute after Robson had been brought down by Stevens.

 Ron Atkinson`s European Cup Winners Cup progress was brought to an end by Juventus at the semi-final stage in 1983-84. United had overcome Spain`s Barca at the quarter-final stage after losing away, 0-2,  a game young Scots` center back, Graeme Hogg, would remember for his 33rd minute  own goal. United won at Old Trafford, 3-0, with two goals from Robson and another from Stapleton. Juvé`s opener came on 14 minutes from a right footed shot just outside the 18 yard box by center forward, Paolo Rossi, who`d been the goalscoring sensation of Italy`s successful 1982 World Cup campaign, scoring Italy`s first in a 3-1 defeat of Germany in the Final. After a long lob from over on the left from left full back, Arthur Albiston, causing confusion in the Juventus` goalmouth, the ball fell to Davies who put it away on 36 minutes. United now needed to win away. Polish midfielder, Zbigniew Boniek, scored left footed for Juvé after a long through ball on 13 minutes, but substitute Whiteside, on for Stapleton on 62 minutes, equalized on 70 minutes after defensive midfielder, Paul McGrath, backheeled the ball to him in the Juvé 6 yard box. Unfortunately for United, Paolo Rossi got the last gasp winner on 90 minutes with his left boot from the left side of the 6 yard box, and Juventus were through to the Final where they beat Porto, 2-1.

 Before the 1984-85 season began, Wilkins, who`d come to the notice of the Italian giants during the European Cup Winners Cup campaign, was transferred to A.C. Milan, and Norman Whiteside made the switch from the forward line to midfield that, amongst others, Sammy McIlroy had done before him. Having qualified for the UEFA Cup by finishing in fourth place in the league, because Everton won the F.A. Cup, and lost to Liverpool in the League Cup Final, while Liverpool also won the title, which meant Everton would play in the European Cup Winners Cup, while Liverpool would compete in the European Cup, and the League Cup wouldn`t produce a UEFA Cup qualifier, so United`s fourth place did. The team progressed to the quarter-finals, where a Frank Stapleton goal on 60 minutes beat Hungary`s Videoton, 1-0, at Old Trafford, but the team lost, 0-1 away at Videoton`s Sóstói stadium in the west of Hungary`s city of Székesfehérvár, and then went out of the competition, 4-5, on penalties. Success came for United in the F.A. Cup Final after a Norman Whiteside run from far out on the right into the corner of the 18 yard box from where his left footed strike curled in past Everton `keeper Neville Southall at the far post in the 110th minute of extra time. The team were down to ten men with center back, Kevin Moran, sent off in the 78th minute for a professional foul on Peter Reid, who would have been clear through on goal, so it was vital that Whiteside scored.

 Although Manchester United qualified for the 1985-86 European Cup Winners Cup competition, disturbances at the Hysels Stadium, Brussels, Belgium, during the European Cup Final between England`s Liverpool and Italy`s Juventus, which the Italians won, 1-0, with a 58th minute penalty from midfield Frenchman, Michel Platini, saw England`s teams banned from European tournaments until 1990-91, when Manchester United again under the managership of Scot, Alex Ferguson, competed in the European Cup Winners Cup, after winning the F.A. Cup Final of 1989-90 defeating Crystal Palace after a run down the length of the pitch by Lee Martin, from his left full back position, ended with Neil Webb diverting the ball into his path, and he crashed in the only goal of the replay into the top left corner of the Palace net on 59 minutes. The first game had ended, 3-3. On 17 minutes, Palace`s center back, Gary O'Reilly, headed in from a free-kick. On 35 minutes, Brian McClair, converted from a striker`s role into midfield, like so many of his predecessors, made a run down the right wing, and floated a cross to the back post, where United captain, Bryan Robson, headed in, 1-1, on 35 minutes. In the second half, a cross-shot from right midfielder, Neil Webb, bought from Nottingham Forest by Alex Ferguson, for £ 1. 5 million, found its way to Wales` center forward, Mark Hughes, who`d been the club`s top scorer for consecutive seasons, 1984-85 (16) and 1985-86 (17), before being sold by Atkinson to Barcelona for £ 2 million, and who, brought back for the 1988-89 season by Atkinson`s Scottish successor, Ferguson, now fired low and into the corner on 62 minutes. Palace substitute, forward Ian Wright, had an immediate impact on 72 minutes, when he ran past United defenders to slot past Scots` `keeper, Jim Leighton, 2–2. In extra time Palace winger, John Salako, floated a cross to the back post where Wright volleyed in on 92 minutes, 2-3. In the second period of extra time, United`s winger, Danny Wallace, provided a through ball for Hughes to chase, and he calmly angled the ball past the onrushing Palace `keeper, Nigel Martyn, 3-3, on 113 minutes. Scotland `keeper Leighton took so much criticism for his failure to prevent Palace scoring, Ferguson replaced him for the replay with Les Sealey, who kept a clean sheet, and never looked back.

 After the Final, Ferguson signed right full back, Denis Irwin, from Oldham Athletic for £ 625, 000, who`d impressed the manager during the F.A. Cup semi-final against Oldham, which `Fergie`s Fledglings` won, 2-1, a replay after a 3-3 draw. Oldham had taken the lead after United `keeper , Jim Leighton, fumbled a low cross and center forward, Earl Barrett, stroked it into the net on 6 minutes. United`s equalizer came on 29 minutes when Robson, put through on goal, sent the ball right footed past the onrushing `keeper, low, and into the left corner of the net. The `Red Devils` took the lead when left back, Colin Gibson, headed a long ball from out on the right back across the Oldham 18 yard box into the penalty area, where Neil Webb`s head looped the ball over the `keeper into the Oldham goal on 72 minutes. On 75 minutes United failed to clear a cross from the right, and center forward, Ian Marshall, volleyed right footed into the net. In extra time, and fresh enough to chase a long ball, winger Danny Wallace, on as a substitute in the 92nd minute, found the right corner of the Oldham goal with a left footed shot. A cross from the left found Oldaham substitute, Roger Palmer, at the far post in the 113th minute, who eased the ball into the United net with his right boot, and Oldham were level, 3-3. In the replay a low, bobbling left wing cross from Danny Wallace, on 50 minutes, took a deflection from an Oldham defender, and found McClair at the far post where, right footed, he struck the ball into the net. On 81 minutes, a cross from the right found ex-United center forward, Andy Ritchie, waiting at the left of the six yard box, to loft the ball right footed into the roof of the United net. It wasn`t until the 113th minute of extra time that United center forward, Mark Robins, on for left back, Lee Martin, received a pass from United midfielder, Mike Phelan, who`d chased a long ball down the inside right channel. Running with the ball into the 18 yard box, Robins struck right footed into the left corner of the Oldham goal, 2-1.
 After the Final, Ferguson signed right full back, Denis Irwin, from Oldham Athletic for £ 625, 000, who`d impressed the manager during the F.A. Cup semi-final against Oldham, which `Fergie`s Fledglings` won, 2-1, a replay after a 3-3 draw. Oldham had taken the lead after United `keeper , Jim Leighton, fumbled a low cross and center forward, Earl Barrett, stroked it into the net on 6 minutes. United`s equalizer came on 29 minutes when Robson, put through on goal, sent the ball right footed past the onrushing `keeper, low, and into the left corner of the net. The `Red Devils` took the lead when left back, Colin Gibson, headed a long ball from out on the right back across the Oldham 18 yard box into the penalty area, where Neil Webb`s head looped the ball over the `keeper into the Oldham goal on 72 minutes. On 75 minutes United failed to clear a cross from the right, and center forward, Ian Marshall, volleyed right footed into the net. In extra time, and fresh enough to chase a long ball, winger Danny Wallace, on as a substitute in the 92nd minute, found the right corner of the Oldham goal with a left footed shot. A cross from the left found Oldaham substitute, Roger Palmer, at the far post in the 113th minute, who eased the ball into the United net with his right boot, and Oldham were level, 3-3. In the replay a low, bobbling left wing cross from Danny Wallace, on 50 minutes, took a deflection from an Oldham defender, and found McClair at the far post where, right footed, he struck the ball into the net. Oldham`s team that day included ex-United center forward, Andy Ritchie who, aged 18, had scored a first hat-trick (3) for Dave Sexton`s United on March 24, 1979, at home to Leeds in a 4-1 victory. In that 1978-79 season, Ritchie scored 10 goals in 16 full appearances, and was second top scorer after center forward, Jimmy Greenhoff (11), and right winger, Steve Coppell (11).  Despite getting another hat-trick against Spurs on April 12, 1980, at Old Trafford in another 4-1 victory, and in a season when United finished `runners-up in the 1979-80 league championship, Ritchie was sold by Sexton`s successor, `Big Ron` Atkinson, to Oldham during the 1980-81 season. Consequently, the semi-final of 1989-90 was a special occasion for Ritchie. So, on 81 minutes, when a cross from the right found Ritchie waiting at the left of the six yard box, he delightedly lofted the ball right footed into the roof of the United net. It wasn`t until the 113th minute of extra time that United center forward, Mark Robins, on for left back, Lee Martin, received a pass from United midfielder, Mike Phelan, who`d chased a long ball down the inside right channel. Running with the ball into the 18 yard box, Robins struck right footed into the left corner of the Oldham goal, 2-1.
 
 

 Though United couldn`t qualify for European competition until 1990-91, when they eventually defeated Barcelona, 2-1, in the Final with a brace of goals from Mark Hughes, the absence of the possibility of European qualification doubtless affected their efforts. United went 1-0 up on 67 minutes following a free-kick from captain, Bryan Robson, which was headed goalwards by defender Steve Bruce. United striker Mark Hughes tapped the ball over the line. Hughes cut the ball into the net from such an acute angle for the second that he had to spin it off the outside of his boot to ensure that it found its mark on 74 minutes. Dutchman Ronald Koeman's late free kick, which came off the upright and hit the legs of United keeper Les Sealey before crossing the line, reduced the deficit on 79 minutes. Having finished fourth in 1985-86, eleventh was the best they could do in 1986-87, and of course it was in 1987-88 that Alex Ferguson, then Aberdeen`s manager, was asked to replace `Big Ron` Atkinson. Ferguson almost immediately signed Brian McClair from Celtic for £ 850, 000, center half, Steve Bruce from Norwich City at Christmas for £ 900, 000, and 17 year old left winger, Lee Sharpe, from Torquay United for £ 200, 000 in April for the start of the 1988-89 season. The club were runners-up to Liverpool with 81 points, losing only 5 games, although the Merseyside giants lost only 2, and finished with 90 points as champions. Although United finished in only thirteenth place in the league in 1989-90 and Ferguson`s tenure as manager looked less than assured, the transfers of midfielder, Mike Phelan, from Norwich City for £ 750, 000, central defender, Gary Pallister, from Middlesboro for £ 2. 3 million, and West Ham midfield maestro, Paul Ince, for £ 1. 7 million showed that the club meant business, and the team`s success in the F.A. Cup Final replay, 1-0, ultimately resulted in their winning the 1990-91 European Cup Winners Cup against Barcelona, 2-1, and the Final of the European Super Cup at the beginning of the following 1991-92 season, which they`d qualified for as the winners of the European Cup Winners Cup. The team duly dispatched European Cup winners, Red Star Belgrade, 1-0, with a goal from Brian McClair on 67 minutes. In the inside left position, McClair was awarded a free-kick for a foul against him 30 yards from goal. Irwin played the free kick into the penalty area. Neil Webb caught Belgrade forward, Dejan Savićević, in possession after an attempted clearance. After beating defender, Duško Radinović, on the edge of the box, Webb hit a shot that struck the foot of the right-hand post and bounced back into the center, where an unmarked McClair struck the ball into the net, and Manchester United`s thirst for European glory remained unquenchable.

27/05/2017 09:04
The Charity Shield Was Shared By The Demons
 
One of the more interesting features of English soccer and its history is the extent to which the Shield is despised as a trophy. Essentially it`s a knockout competition, won by Manchester United at its inauguration in 1908, in which the winners of the F.A. Cup compete against the winners of the Premier League for the winning of it, which is the format for all of the world`s greatest soccer competitions. The UCL Champions League is competed for by the winners of each nation`s respective leagues, or it was until recent years when the league format of the European Cup was introduced. Then it became possible for teams to qualify for the European Champions` League without winning their respective leagues, which helped to heap further derision on the English Shield as a remaining anachronism of the days when trophies were competed for by winners. The nature of the Champions` League is that a team that doesn`t win its national title can win the European Cup, which was a sign of egalitarianism for many, but to others it represented a corruption of the original intention that champions compete to determine which of them was the greatest. Consequently, the English Shield remains a competition of some great note because it is still a contest of champions, even though there was a move by socializers to make it a symbol of sharing by renaming it the Community Shield when it was originally named the Charity Shield. Although it`s unfashionble to say so, shields are Arthurian, that is, the name of the English Shield harks back to a bygone age in which the knights written of by Sir Thomas Mallory in his cycle of Grail stories, Le Mort D`Arthur, for example, quest for the Holy Grail, a cup that Jesus `Christ`, `the chosen`, drank from at what came to be called the `Last Supper`, before he was nailed to a wooden cross by the Romans then occupying Jewish Palestine where the `chosen people` of the Jews had their home, and died as a `dissident` who preached: `Love your neighbor as you love yourself.` (Mk: 12. 31) In short, the English F.A. Cup and the original European Cup, etc., are symbolically Christian, because Jesus expereinced Resurrection and Ascension to heaven after being crucified by agents of the Roman Empire then illegally occupying Jewish Palestine. In other words, the European and World Club Cup competitons are in the Judeo-Christian tradition of friendship between equals in freedom.
 
 In the stories of the Grail the knight Perceval is the one that is vouchsafed the role of being the individual who pierces the veil to achieve a sight of the Grail, which in European and global soccer is symbolized by the various cups. Neither a saucer or a plate is celebrated from the `Last Supper`, but that`s because it was traditional at the time of Jesus for all of the food to be placed into a single bowl or cup, and even the wine drank by those sitting at the table, which is why the United States` football teams compete for bowls. Although the English Shield denotes that of a knight, its significance in terms of Jesus` `Last Supper` is that of the door: `Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.` (Rev: 3. 20) The concept of the door as a shield is important, because of the US` notion of the `trophy wife`, which is the label applied to women who marry and are perceived as trophies. Some people want to see the team with the trophy after the victory of one side or the other, whereas some wnat to see the trophy with the team. Although that seems a too fine distinction, the US` concept of `trophy wife` pertains to Arthurian notions of adultery and faithfulness. King Arthur`s door was open to the knight Lancelot, who embarked on an adulterous relationship with the queen, Guinevere, who wasn`t his trophy. Consequently, the notion of doors or shields being shared is adulterous, and so is the idea that non-champions are equals, for example, in the International Champions` Cup it`s possible for Real Madrid to be champions of China and Australia by invitation to the competition and with no legitimacy perceivable. In an International Champions` Cup (ICC) contest it ought to be reasonable to expect that an international champion would emerge, whereas what emerged was a European champion of China and Australia, which is as if Real Madrid were declared chapions of Austria for defeating Rapid VIenna in a UCL qualifier. Just as sharing the Shield is indicative of adultery, so the dilution of the significance of the ICC, which was competed for and won outright by the English champions Manchester United in 2014, 3-1, against Liverpool, was designed to embarass the champions, because it`s a sign of degeneracy. Adultery, however, isn`t simple, because it`s a sign of poison, that is, what`s adulterated is poisoned. When Jesus was asked to condemn a woman allegedly caught inflagrante delecto, he asked: `Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.` (John: 8. 7) None could, and Jesus said to the woman: `Go, and sin no more.` (John: 8. 11) Because women can sexually reproduce with each other as futanarian women with `seed` of their own, they`re a distinct species adulterated, that is, poisoned, which is the meaning of the `Last Supper` at which Jesus drinks from his bowl, the Grail, and offers `bread and wine` as symbols of his `body and blod` to the disciples. Born of his mother, the Virgin Mary, Jesus was `woman`s seed`, so his Resurrection and Ascension to heaven prefigures that of women`s race to the planets amongst the stars as colonists there through the power of their own brains to devise means of taking them away from the Earth and its adulteration.
 
 The abolishing of the European Cup WInners` Cup (ECWC), perhaps because sports` reporters on television news found it difficult to say, `the cup winners cup winners` and have it make sense to themselves, was an initial sign that the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), and the world`s `soccer government`, the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), were adulterating their cups. If Manchester United were embarassed at having their ICC 2014 triumph diluted, it was doubly embarassing to see UEFA and FIFA agree to abolish the competition between the winners of the respective nations` cups very hurriedly after United won the European Cup Winners Cup in 1991, 2-1, against Barcelona, with a brace of goals from Welshman, Mark Hughes. The meaning of world football`s undue haste in abolishing the ECWC in 1999 was again diluted for Manchester United, because the club won the UCL Champions` League, and its trophy, a cup, which had been known as the European Champions` Cup, when the club had won that in 1968, 4-1, against Portugal`s Benfica, in 1999 against Germany`s Bayern Munich, 2-1, with two very late opportunist strikes from England center forward, Teddy Sheringham and Norway`s Ole Gunna Solskjaer. United had been inspired by Irish winger, George Best, who scored a typical solo goal in the 1968 Final, although England deep lying center forward, Bobby Charlton had opened the team`s account with a header in the 53rd minute, 1-0, cancelled out by a strike from Portuguese right wing, Jaime Graça, in the 79th minute, 1-1, meant the crowd was treated to a mesmerising dribbling run from Best before he scored in the 92nd minute of extra time, 2-1, and then teenage striker Brian Kidd`s successful second attempt at a headed goal, after a defender could only head it back to him in the 94th, 3-1, before Charlton scored again with a dipping volley from a tight angel in the 99th minute, 4-1. It was the first and only time that Manchester United won the European Cup as champions before it became the UCL Champions League in which non-champions could compete for the same trophy. Consequently, it was the first and last time that the club won the European Grail undiluted by an adulterating football central authority.
 
 Internationally Manchester United experienced the same fate. After winning the European Cup in 1968 the club competed in the Final of the Intercontinental Cup over tow legs, home and away, which they lost, 0-1, in Buenos Aires to Estudiantes of Argentina, and could only draw, 1-1, at the club`s Old Trafford statium in Manchester, after a late strike from Scots` right wing, Willie Morgan. When the club got another chance to compete in the Intercontinental Cup in 1999, the opponents were Palmeiras of Brazil, winners of South America`s equivalent of the UCL Champions` Cup, the Copa Libertadores (Cup of Freedom), and the contest was a single event taking place in Japan`s National Stadium, Tokyo, which United won, 1-0, after a 35th minute far post goal from Irish midfield dynamo, Roy Keane, who ran on to a cross far out on the left from Welsh winger, Ryan Giggs, to direct the ball into the net with his outstretched right foot. In almost indecent haste, the world`s football bodies abolished the Intercontinental Cup in 2004 after Manchester United`s victory in 1999, together with its legitimizing role as a Europe and South America championship trophy, and rpeplaced the competition with the World Club Cup, which was largely modelled on the UCL Champions` League, where  teams qualified wihout winning, although United did win the competition as winners of the UCL Champions` League, and as winners of the English championship (2006-07, 2007-08, and 2008-09), with a low speculative shot from England center forward, Wayne Rooney, from the edge of South American champions LDU Quito of Ecuador`s area in the 73rd minute at the International Stadium, Yokohama, Japan, after the team had been reduced to ten players when Serbian center half Nemanja Vidic was sent off for elbowing Argentine forward, Claudio Beiler, in the 49th minute.
 
 When Manchester United won the successor to the European Cup Winners Cup and UEFA Cup, the UEFA Europa League in 2017, which had been the trophy competed for as the UEFA Cup, while the ECWC remained remarkable for its unremarked upon absence, world record buy from Juventus` midfield, Paul Pogba, struck from long range at The Friends stadium, Stockholm, Sweden, in the 18th minute, while Armenia`s national team captain, and right winger, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, struck from a header towards goal from England central defender, Chris Smalling, in the 48th minute, which Mkhitaryan, falling backwards, managed to hook in as he went over. Although the club`s joy was undiluted, it might have caused some fans to speculate on how the presence of the ECWC amongst the European competitons could have increased United`s haul in terms of European trophies won since the ECWC was abolished in 2004. Manchester United were record winners of the F.A. Cup in 1909, 1948, 1963, 1977, 1983, 1985, 1990, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2004, and 2016. Although the club competed for and won the Champions` League in 1999, and qualified for the UCL Champions` League again in 2003-04 by virtue of finishing runners-up to Arsenal in the English Premier League championship, the team had won the F.A. Cup against Millwall, 3-0, that season, with goals from Portuguese right winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, a header from right full back Gary Neville`s chip in the 44th minute, and a penalty from Dutch center forward, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, in the 65th, who tapped in a third from just three yards out, after a left wing cross by Giggs in the 81st. Many supporters felt that United would have stood a better chance of winning the ECWC, rather than make up the teams in the UCL Champions` list. Without the incentive of European glory, the F.A. Cup was reduced in value for the winners, and United didn`t win it again until the brief managerial spell of former Dutch team boss, Louis Van Gaal, as he made way in the last days of his two season tenure for Portugal`s renownedly instantly successful soccer manager, Jose Mourinho, to take over for the 2016-17 campaign, and whose expertise brought the Europa Cup.
 
 Though perceived as a negligible trophy by many, and adulterated by the English Football Association on occasion as to be competed for on such a basis that a draw would mean that it was shared, which happened to United in 1965 when, as First Division Champions, United drew with F.A. Cup winners, Liverpool, 2-2, 1967 when, as First Division Champions, United drew with F.A. Cup winners, Tottenham Hotspur, when `keeper Pat Jennings was credited with scoring from a punt that bounced over United `keeper, Alex Stepney, 1977 when, as F.A. Cup winners, United drew with LIverpool, 0-0, and in 1990 when, as F.A. Cup winners, United drew with First Division Champions, Liverpool, 1-1. Including outright victories, Manchester United have won the English Shield on 21 occasions; 1908, 1911, 1952, 1956, 1957, 1965*, 1967*, 1977*, 1983, 1990*, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2016. A record witness to the truth that older competitions that recognize mythic sensibilities are most significant. Despite football`s governing bodies` attempts to adulterate the trophy`s worth by making the teams share it, as though it were a `trophy wife`, in some dim Shakespearean sense, the Shield remains a symbol of Jesus` teaching: `I am the door. By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.` (John: 10. 9) The meaning is that the door is a Shield, which isn`t shared without the permission of those within, because friends choose each other well, and Argentina`s Claudio Beiler mightn`t accept an elbow in the face from Nemanja Vidic as accidental, whereas UEFA and FIFA`s ambition that trophies be shared, and champions admit second raters into their midst, tacitly accepts that injurious behavior on the pitch is standard, because teams that play for a draw are brutal in defense of it. When England won the World Cup in 1966 against Germany, 4-2, manager Alf Ramsey described the Argentinian players as `animals`, and after West Ham striker, Geoff Hurst, gave them a quarter-final win in the 78th minute, 1-0. Argentina`s captain, Antonio Rattin, was sent off in the 35th minute, because the Argentinian team`s will to win was epitomized by Rattin`s ferocity. England went on to win the Jules Rimet trophy, with no possibility of its being shared, abolished, replaced, conflated, or otherwise adulterated by false notions of universal brotherhood that reduced the endeavors of serious proponents of friendship to nights` clubbing in search of another frothy mug.The Charity Shield Was Shared By The Demons

The Charity Shield Was Shared By The Demons

One of the more interesting features of English soccer and its history is the extent to which the Shield is despised as a trophy. Essentially it`s a knockout competition, won by Manchester United at its inauguration in 1908, in which the winners of the F.A. Cup compete against the winners of the Premier League for the winning of it, which is the format for all of the world`s greatest soccer competitions. The UCL Champions League is competed for by the winners of each nation`s respective leagues, or it was until recent years when the league format of the European Cup was introduced. Then it became possible for teams to qualify for the European Champions` League without winning their respective leagues, which helped to heap further derision on the English Shield as a remaining anachronism of the days when trophies were competed for by winners. The nature of the Champions` League is that a team that doesn`t win its national title can win the European Cup, which was a sign of egalitarianism for many, but to others it represented a corruption of the original intention that champions compete to determine which of them was the greatest. Consequently, the English Shield remains a competition of some great note because it is still a contest of champions, even though there was a move by socializers to make it a symbol of sharing by renaming it the Community Shield when it was originally named the Charity Shield. Although it`s unfashionble to say so, shields are Arthurian, that is, the name of the English Shield harks back to a bygone age in which the knights written of by Sir Thomas Mallory in his cycle of Grail stories, Le Mort D`Arthur (1485), for example, quest for the Holy Grail, a cup that Jesus `Christ`, `the chosen`, drank from at what came to be called the `Last Supper`, before he was nailed to a wooden cross by the Romans then occupying Jewish Palestine where the `chosen people` of the Jews had their home, and died as a `dissident` who preached: `Love your neighbor as you love yourself.` (Mk: 12. 31) In short, the English F.A. Cup and the original European Cup, etc., are symbolically Christian, because Jesus expereinced Resurrection and Ascension to heaven after being crucified by agents of the Roman Empire then illegally occupying Jewish Palestine. In other words, the European and World Club Cup competitons are in the Judeo-Christian tradition of friendship between equals in freedom.

 In the stories of the Grail, the knight Perceval is the one that is vouchsafed the role of being the individual who pierces the veil to achieve a sight of the Grail, which in European and global soccer is symbolized by the various cups. Neither a saucer or a plate is celebrated from the `Last Supper`, but that`s because it was traditional at the time of Jesus for all of the food to be placed into a single bowl or cup, and even the wine drank by those sitting at the table, which is why the United States` football teams compete for bowls. Although the English Shield denotes that of a knight, its significance in terms of Jesus` `Last Supper` is that of the door: `Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.` (Rev: 3. 20) The concept of the door as a shield is important, because of the US` notion of the `trophy wife`, which is the label applied to women who marry and are perceived as trophies. Some people want to see the team with the trophy after the victory of one side or the other, whereas some wnat to see the trophy with the team. Although that seems a too fine distinction, the US` concept of `trophy wife` pertains to Arthurian notions of adultery and faithfulness. King Arthur`s door was open to the knight Lancelot, who embarked on an adulterous relationship with the queen, Guinevere, who wasn`t his trophy. Consequently, the notion of doors or shields being shared is adulterous, and so is the idea that non-champions are equals, for example, in the International Champions` Cup it`s possible for Real Madrid to be champions of China and Australia by invitation to the competition and with no legitimacy perceivable. In an International Champions` Cup (ICC) contest it ought to be reasonable to expect that an international champion would emerge, whereas what emerged was a European champion of China and Australia, which is as if Real Madrid were declared chapions of Austria for defeating Rapid VIenna in a UCL qualifier. Just as sharing the Shield is indicative of adultery, so the dilution of the significance of the ICC, which was competed for and won outright by the English champions Manchester United in 2014, 3-1, against Liverpool, was designed to embarass the champions, because it`s a sign of degeneracy. Adultery, however, isn`t simple, because it`s a sign of poison, that is, what`s adulterated is poisoned. When Jesus was asked to condemn a woman allegedly caught inflagrante delecto, he asked: `Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.` (John: 8. 7) None could, and Jesus said to the woman: `Go, and sin no more.` (John: 8. 11) Because women can sexually reproduce with each other as futanarian women with `seed` of their own, they`re a distinct species adulterated, that is, poisoned, which is the meaning of the `Last Supper` at which Jesus drinks from his bowl, the Grail, and offers `bread and wine` as symbols of his `body and blod` to the disciples. Born of his mother, the Virgin Mary, Jesus was `woman`s seed`, so his Resurrection and Ascension to heaven prefigures that of women`s race to the planets amongst the stars as colonists there through the power of their own brains to devise means of taking them away from the Earth and its adulteration.

The abolishing of the European Cup WInners` Cup (ECWC), perhaps because sports` reporters on television news found it difficult to say,  `the cup winners cup winners` and have it make sense to themselves, was an initial sign that the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), and the world`s `soccer government`, the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), were adulterating their cups. If Manchester United were embarassed at having their ICC 2014 triumph diluted, it was doubly embarassing to see UEFA and FIFA agree to abolish the competition between the winners of the respective nations` cups very hurriedly after United won the European Cup Winners Cup in 1991, 2-1, against Barcelona, with a brace of goals from Welshman, Mark Hughes. The meaning of world football`s undue haste in abolishing the ECWC in 1999 was again diluted for Manchester United, because the club won the UCL Champions` League, and its trophy, a cup, which had been known as the European Champions` Cup, when the club had won that in 1968, 4-1, against Portugal`s Benfica, in 1999 against Germany`s Bayern Munich, 2-1, with two very late opportunist strikes from England center forward, Teddy Sheringham and Norway`s Ole Gunna Solskjaer. United had been inspired by Irish winger, George Best, who scored a typical solo goal in the 1968 Final, although England deep lying center forward, Bobby Charlton had opened the team`s account with a header in the 53rd minute, 1-0, cancelled out by a strike from Portuguese right wing, Jaime Graça, in the 79th minute, 1-1, meant the crowd was treated to a mesmerising dribbling run from Best before he scored in the 92nd minute of extra time, 2-1, and then teenage striker Brian Kidd`s successful second attempt at a headed goal, after a defender could only head it back to him in the 94th, 3-1, before Charlton scored again with a dipping volley from a tight angel in the 99th minute, 4-1. It was the first and only time that Manchester United won the European Cup as champions before it became the UCL Champions League in which non-champions could compete for the same trophy. Consequently, it was the first and last time that the club won the European Grail undiluted by an adulterating football central authority.

Internationally Manchester United experienced the same fate. After winning the European Cup in 1968, the club competed in the Final of the Intercontinental Cup over two legs, home and away, which they lost, 0-1, in Buenos Aires to Estudiantes of Argentina, and could only draw, 1-1, at the club`s Old Trafford statium in Manchester, after a late strike from Scots` right wing, Willie Morgan. When the club got another chance to compete in the Intercontinental Cup in 1999, the opponents were Palmeiras of Brazil, winners of South America`s equivalent of the UCL Champions` Cup, the Copa Libertadores (Cup of Freedom), and the contest was a single event taking place in Japan`s National Stadium, Tokyo, which United won, 1-0, after a 35th minute far post goal from Irish midfield dynamo, Roy Keane, who ran on to a cross far out on the left from Welsh winger, Ryan Giggs, to direct the ball into the net with his outstretched right foot. In almost indecent haste, the world`s football bodies abolished the Intercontinental Cup in 2004 after Manchester United`s victory in 1999, together with its legitimizing role as a Europe and South America championship trophy, and rpeplaced the competition with the World Club Cup, which was largely modelled on the UCL Champions` League, where  teams qualified wihout winning, although United did win the competition as winners of the UCL Champions` League, and as winners of the English championship (2006-07, 2007-08, and 2008-09), with a low speculative shot from England center forward, Wayne Rooney, from the edge of South American champions LDU Quito of Ecuador`s area in the 73rd minute at the International Stadium, Yokohama, Japan, after the team had been reduced to ten players when Serbian center half Nemanja Vidic was sent off for elbowing Argentine forward, Claudio Beiler, in the 49th minute.

When Manchester United won the successor to the European Cup Winners Cup and UEFA Cup, the UEFA Europa League in 2017, which had been the trophy competed for as the UEFA Cup, while the ECWC remained remarkable for its unremarked upon absence, world record buy from Juventus` midfield, Paul Pogba, struck from long range at The Friends stadium, Stockholm, Sweden, in the 18th minute, while Armenia`s national team captain, and right winger, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, struck from a header towards goal from England central defender, Chris Smalling, in the 48th minute, which Mkhitaryan, falling backwards, managed to hook in as he went over. Although the club`s joy was undiluted, it might have caused some fans to speculate on how the presence of the ECWC amongst the European competitons could have increased United`s haul in terms of European trophies won since the ECWC was abolished in 2004. Manchester United were record winners of the F.A. Cup in 1909, 1948, 1963, 1977, 1983, 1985, 1990, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2004, and 2016. Although the club competed for and won the Champions` League in 1999, and qualified for the UCL Champions` League again in 2003-04 by virtue of finishing runners-up to Arsenal in the English Premier League championship, the team had won the F.A. Cup against Millwall, 3-0, that season, with goals from Portuguese right winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, a header from right full back Gary Neville`s chip in the 44th minute, and a penalty from Dutch center forward, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, in the 65th, who tapped in a third from just three yards out, after a left wing cross by Giggs in the 81st. Many supporters felt that United would have stood a better chance of winning the ECWC, rather than make up the teams in the UCL Champions` list. Without the incentive of European glory, the F.A. Cup was reduced in value for the winners, and United didn`t win it again until the brief managerial spell of former Dutch team boss, Louis Van Gaal, as he made way in the last days of his two season tenure for Portugal`s renownedly instantly successful soccer manager, Jose Mourinho, to take over for the 2016-17 campaign, and whose expertise brought the Europa Cup.

 Perceived as a negligible trophy by many, and adulterated by the English Football Association on occasion, so as to be competed for on such a basis that a draw would mean that the Shield was shared, that happened to United in 1965 when, as First Division Champions, United drew with F.A. Cup winners, Liverpool, 2-2, 1967 when, as First Division Champions, United drew with F.A. Cup winners, Tottenham Hotspur, when `keeper Pat Jennings was credited with scoring from a punt that bounced over United `keeper, Alex Stepney, 1977 when, as F.A. Cup winners, United drew with LIverpool, 0-0, and in 1990 when, as F.A. Cup winners, United drew with First Division Champions, Liverpool, 1-1. Including outright victories, however, Manchester United have won the English Shield on 21 occasions; 1908, 1911, 1952, 1956, 1957, 1965*, 1967*, 1977*, 1983, 1990*, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2016. A record witness to the truth that older competitions that recognize mythic sensibilities are most significant. Despite football`s governing bodies` attempts to adulterate the trophy`s worth by making the teams share it, as though it were a `trophy wife`, in some dim Shakespearean sense, the Shield remains a symbol of Jesus` teaching: `I am the door. By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.` (John: 10. 9) The meaning is that the door is a Shield, which isn`t shared without the permission of those within, because friends choose each other well, and Argentina`s Claudio Beiler mightn`t accept an elbow in the face from Nemanja Vidic as accidental, whereas UEFA and FIFA`s ambition that trophies be shared, and champions admit second raters into their midst, tacitly accepts that injurious behavior on the pitch is standard, because teams that play for a draw are brutal in defense of it. When England won the World Cup in 1966 against Germany, 4-2, manager Alf Ramsey described the Argentinian players as `animals`, and after West Ham striker, Geoff Hurst, gave them a quarter-final win in the 78th minute, 1-0. Argentina`s captain, Antonio Rattin, was sent off in the 35th minute, because the Argentinian team`s will to win was epitomized by Rattin`s ferocity. England went on to win the Jules Rimet trophy, with no possibility of its being shared, abolished, replaced, conflated, or otherwise adulterated by false notions of universal brotherhood that reduced the endeavors of serious proponents of friendship to nights` clubbing in search of another frothy mug.

25/05/2017 00:52
Classic Mourinho Chelsea Season At United
 
When Portugal`s  José Mourinho was manager at Chelsea, the Blues were mean in defence and mean in attack, because the team won trophies by conceding fewer goals than their opponents although they scored fewer also. A typical Chelsea team under Morinho`s management was like that of the first Manchester United team to win the inaugural Premier League title in 1992-93. The defence was tight, conceding 31 goals with Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister at the heart of it, while Mark Hughes top scored with 15. Third placed Norwich City had more goals scored against, 65 to 61, which illustrated the value of a Manchester United mean defensive unit that also had Paul Parker at right back and Denis Irwin at left back. The following season, 1993-94, saw United concede only 38 goals, with the same defense, although the addition of Eric Cantona, who`d won the last League Division One title with Leeds in 1991-92, and who got 18 goals compared to Hughes` 12, saw meanness at the back allied to devastating attack, which became the style for the future of the club under the stewardship of manager Alex Ferguson, and Manchester United also won the F.A. Cup Final that 1993-94 season against Glenn Hoddle`s Chelsea, with two penalties from Cantona settling the match in the 60th and 66th minutes, 2-0. A mistake by defender, Frank Sinclair, allowed Hughes to slot home in the 69th minute, 3-0, and  an unslfish pass from midfielder, Paul Ince, when he could have scored easily, afforded center forward, Brian McClair, an unmissable chance in the 92nd minute, 4-0. Mourinho, in his first Chelsea seaon, 2004-2005, won the Premier League by conceding just 15 goals and his top scorer was midfielder, Frank Lampard, with 13 goals. Lampard was top scorer with 16 in 2005-2006 and Chelsea conceded only 22 goals as they again won the title in the style of that United team of 1992-93, which won by having the meanest defence and a lethal, though unprolific striker, Mark Hughes.
 
 Bizarrely, Chelsea hadn`t won the league since 1950, and 2006-07 was the last for Mourinho at Chelsea, who had given them two league championships in his first two seasons but, despite winning both the F.A. Cup, 1-0 against United, and the League Cup, Chelsea chairman, Russia`s Roman Abrimovich, sacked Mourinho after what he seemed to view as a disappointing European Champions` Cup draw with Norway`s Rosenborg at home, 1-1, in the qualifying group. Replaced by Israeli, Avram Grant, Chelsea were runners-up to Manchester United for the second successive season after 2006-07 when, despite conceding the fewest goals, 24, United scored more through Portugal`s right winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, 17, and England center forward, Wayne Rooney, 14. Chelsea center forward, Ivory Coast`s Didier Drogba, top scored with 20 in 2006-07, but in 2007-08 England`s marauder, Frank Lampard, was again top scorer with 10, while Ronaldo, 31, Rooney 12, and Argentina`s Carloz Tevez, 14, made sure United won the league. As fate would have it, Ferguson`s team would face Chelsea in the European Champions` League Cup Final and,  after a Cristiano Ronaldo header, and a typical run and shoot from midfield by Frank Lampard, the game ended, 1-1, which meant a penalty decider. Chelsea`s England central defender, John Terry, infamously fell on his arse in the rain as he hit the post, which left winger, Ryan Giggs, to famously stroke home his spot kick winner for the `Red Devils`, 6-5.
 
 Jose Mourinho`s first season at Manchester United brought a first trophy. The team beat Southampton, 3-2, in the 2016-17 League Cup Final after a left winger, Jessie Lingard, scored United second goal in the 38th minute, 2-0. It was uncannily similar to his 110th minute extra time strike to win the F.A. Cup Final, 2-1, against Crystal Palace, the previous, 2015-16 season, after which former Dutch team manager, Louis Van Gaal, lost his tenure as United boss, because of his failure to win the league, a failure that had meant the end of retired Ferguson`s successor, Everton`s David Moyes, whose only measurable success was to win the English Shield with the championship winning team he`d inherited in 2013 against the F.A. Cup winners, Wigan, 2-0, with a 6th minute header, and a 59th minute left footed strike, after cutting in from the right, from Dutch center forward, Robin Van Persie, who`d been brought from Arsenal for £ 22. 5 million to score the 26 goals that spearheaded yet another successful United league campaign in what, through illness, became Ferguson`s retirment season. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a Swedish center forward brought by Mourinho from Paris St. Germain, aged 34, and who finished the season top scorer with 17 goals, had opened the scoring in the 2017 League Cup Final, with a great free kick in the 19th minute, bent around the Southampton wall from well outside the penalty area. A brace from Italy`s striker, Manolo Gabbiadini, either side of half time, in the 46th and 48th minutes, and who`d struck deftly each time he was played in a few yards from the goal`s mouth, levelled after Lingard put United ahead, 2-0, before Ibrahimovic`s header in the 87th minute, won it, 3-2.
 
 Although Chelsea won the league title in 2016-17, and United finished sixth, it was with the fewest goals conceded, 29, a Mourinho trademark, and United`s end of season was far from unhappy. Mourinho steered the team through to the Final of the UEFA Cup against Netherlands` club Ajax of Amsterdam, at the Friends Arena, Stockholm, Sweden. It was a game Ibrahimovic missed, because of a cruciate ligament knee injury incurred against Belgium`s Anderlecht at home in the quarter-final second leg at Manchester`s Old Trafford stadium, which saw the Swedish striker taken off in the 90th minute, although United won, 2-1, through an extra time goal from center forward, Marcus Rashford in the 107th minute, after drawing, 1-1, in Brussels. A 1-0 win away to Spain`s Celta Vigo meant that a 1-1 draw at home was enough to reach the Europa Cup Final against Ajax on May 24, 2017, which United won with a goal in the 18th minute from world`s most expensive midfield purchase, France`s Paul Pogba, and another from Armenia`s captain and right winger, Henrik Mkhitaryan, in the 48th minute. Pogba had been bought from Italy`s  Juventus, and after he`d signed for the Italian club when he hadn`t renewed his contract at United for 2012-13. Four consecutive Serie A titles later, Pogba retuned to Old Trafford for £ 89. 3 million to take his place in a starting line-up largely constructed by Mourinho`s predecessor, Dutchman Van Gaal, apart from Mkhitaryan, who arrived from Borussia Dortmund at the beginning of the 2016-17 season for around £ 30 million, and Ivory Coast center back, Eric Bailly, an eventual adequate £ 30 million replacement for England`s much-missed Rio Ferdinand, who seemed to have left, without any attempt by then manager, Van Gaal, to keep him, to join QPR for the 2014-15 season. Ecuador`s Antonio Valencia, bought by Ferguson from Wigan for £ 16 million as a right winger for the 2009-10 season, but switched to right back by Ferguson`s successors, was captain, and although Bailly was absent through suspension, England`s Chris Smalling, another survivor from the Ferguson era, proved once again that he was an excellent stand-in in an emergency. Italian Matteo Darmian, bought from Torino for around £ 13 million by Gaal for the 2015-16 campaign, was at left back, and Daley Blind was the other central defender, bought from Ajax for around £ 14 million for the 2014-15 term, completed the defence for what had been the meanest Premier League outfit in 2016-17.
 
 Without Ibrahimovic, Mourinho opted for the three man midfield that had been the hallmark of his days at Chelsea; Pogba. Spain`s Ander Herrera, bought from Athletic Bilbao for the 2014-15 season for around £ 29 million, and Marouane Fellaini, brought from Everton by Moyes at the commencement of his year long 2013-14 tenure. Up front Mourinho went for two wingers, Mkhitaryan was on the right, and Spain`s Juan Mata, bought from Chelsea for £ 37. 1 million in January 2014 during Mourinho`s second spell there as manager, where he`d been taken by Mourinho`s predecessor, Portugal`s André Villas-Boas, from Valencia for 2011-12, was on the left. While at Chelsea for the second time, Mourinho won the league and League Cup double in 2014-15, with his usual meanness in terms of goals conceded in the title race, 32, although the Blues were more balanced with Belgium`s Eden Hazard, 14 goals, performing the role that Lampard had in Mourinho`s earlier sojourn at Stamford Bridge, while Spain`s Diego Costa, struck 20 times. Mata, however, was deemed surplus to requirements by Mourinho, who preferred the Brazilian Oscar, although the pair were to be reunited at Old Trafford with great success. Mourinho`s center forward for the Europa Cup Final was Marcus Rashford, who`d emerged as an 18 year old in 2015-16 and played in the F.A. Cup Final win over Palace, 2-1, while England center forward, Wayne Rooney, who`d been captain that day, and for whom goals and appearances in the first team were becoming scarcer since the emergence of teenager, Rashford, and the arrival of Ibrahimovic in the twilight of a great career, was on the substitutes` bench. Pogba`s opening goal was scored from well outside the `keeper`s area after an infield pass from Fellaini on the right to the center of the pitch where Pogba struck a left-footed shot that rose into the top center of the net beyond and through the `keeper`s despairing grasp. After half-time Mkhitaryan hooked in a close-in shot, falling backwards, and with his right foot, 2-0, from a corner headed towards goal by Smalling, and that was the way it stayed. Manchester United had won the UEFA/Europa cup that had eluded them for so long, and had now won all of Europe`s major soccer tournaments.Classic Mourinho Chelsea Season At United
 
When Portugal`s  José Mourinho was manager at Chelsea, the Blues were mean in defence and mean in attack, because the team won trophies by conceding fewer goals than their opponents although they scored fewer also. A typical Chelsea team under Morinho`s management was like that of the first Manchester United team to win the inaugural Premier League title in 1992-93. The defence was tight, conceding 31 goals with Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister at the heart of it, while Mark Hughes top scored with 15. Third placed Norwich City had more goals scored against, 65 to 61, which illustrated the value of a Manchester United mean defensive unit that also had Paul Parker at right back and Denis Irwin at left back. The following season, 1993-94, saw United concede only 38 goals, with the same defense, although the addition of Eric Cantona, who`d won the last League Division One title with Leeds in 1991-92, and who got 18 goals compared to Hughes` 12, saw meanness at the back allied to devastating attack, which became the style for the future of the club under the stewardship of manager Alex Ferguson, and Manchester United also won the F.A. Cup Final that 1993-94 season against Glenn Hoddle`s Chelsea, with two penalties from Cantona settling the match in the 60th and 66th minutes, 2-0. A mistake by defender, Frank Sinclair, allowed Hughes to slot home in the 69th minute, 3-0, and  an unslfish pass from midfielder, Paul Ince, when he could have scored easily, afforded center forward, Brian McClair, an unmissable chance in the 92nd minute, 4-0. Mourinho, in his first Chelsea seaon, 2004-2005, won the Premier League by conceding just 15 goals and his top scorer was midfielder, Frank Lampard, with 13 goals. Lampard was top scorer with 16 in 2005-2006 and Chelsea conceded only 22 goals as they again won the title in the style of that United team of 1992-93, which won by having the meanest defence and a lethal, though unprolific striker, Mark Hughes.
 
 Bizarrely, Chelsea hadn`t won the league since 1950, and 2006-07 was the last for Mourinho at Chelsea, who had given them two league championships in his first two seasons but, despite winning both the F.A. Cup, 1-0 against United, and the League Cup, Chelsea chairman, Russia`s Roman Abrimovich, sacked Mourinho after what he seemed to view as a disappointing European Champions` Cup draw with Norway`s Rosenborg at home, 1-1, in the qualifying group. Replaced by Israeli, Avram Grant, Chelsea were runners-up to Manchester United for the second successive season after 2006-07 when, despite conceding the fewest goals, 24, United scored more through Portugal`s right winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, 17, and England center forward, Wayne Rooney, 14. Chelsea center forward, Ivory Coast`s Didier Drogba, top scored with 20 in 2006-07, but in 2007-08 England`s marauder, Frank Lampard, was again top scorer with 10, while Ronaldo, 31, Rooney 12, and Argentina`s Carloz Tevez, 14, made sure United won the league. As fate would have it, Ferguson`s team would face Chelsea in the European Champions` League Cup Final and,  after a Cristiano Ronaldo header, and a typical run and shoot from midfield by Frank Lampard, the game ended, 1-1, which meant a penalty decider. Chelsea`s England central defender, John Terry, infamously fell on his arse in the rain as he hit the post, which left winger, Ryan Giggs, to famously stroke home his spot kick winner for the `Red Devils`, 6-5.
 
 Jose Mourinho`s first season at Manchester United brought a first trophy. The team beat Southampton, 3-2, in the 2016-17 League Cup Final after a left winger, Jessie Lingard, scored United second goal in the 38th minute, 2-0. It was uncannily similar to his 110th minute extra time strike to win the F.A. Cup Final, 2-1, against Crystal Palace, the previous, 2015-16 season, after which former Dutch team manager, Louis Van Gaal, lost his tenure as United boss, because of his failure to win the league, a failure that had meant the end of retired Ferguson`s successor, Everton`s David Moyes, whose only measurable success was to win the English Shield with the championship winning team he`d inherited in 2013 against the F.A. Cup winners, Wigan, 2-0, with a 6th minute header, and a 59th minute left footed strike, after cutting in from the right, from Dutch center forward, Robin Van Persie, who`d been brought from Arsenal for £ 22. 5 million to score the 26 goals that spearheaded yet another successful United league campaign in what, through illness, became Ferguson`s retirment season. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a Swedish center forward brought by Mourinho from Paris St. Germain, aged 34, and who finished the season top scorer with 17 goals, had opened the scoring in the 2017 League Cup Final, with a great free kick in the 19th minute, bent around the Southampton wall from well outside the penalty area. A brace from Italy`s striker, Manolo Gabbiadini, either side of half time, in the 46th and 48th minutes, and who`d struck deftly each time he was played in a few yards from the goal`s mouth, levelled after Lingard put United ahead, 2-0, before Ibrahimovic`s header in the 87th minute, won it, 3-2.
 
 Although Chelsea won the league title in 2016-17, and United finished sixth, it was with the fewest goals conceded, 29, a Mourinho trademark, and United`s end of season was far from unhappy. Mourinho steered the team through to the Final of the UEFA Cup against Netherlands` club Ajax of Amsterdam, at the Friends Arena, Stockholm, Sweden. It was a game Ibrahimovic missed, because of a cruciate ligament knee injury incurred against Belgium`s Anderlecht at home in the quarter-final second leg at Manchester`s Old Trafford stadium, which saw the Swedish striker taken off in the 90th minute, although United won, 2-1, through an extra time goal from center forward, Marcus Rashford in the 107th minute, after drawing, 1-1, in Brussels. A 1-0 win away to Spain`s Celta Vigo meant that a 1-1 draw at home was enough to reach the Europa Cup Final against Ajax on May 24, 2017, which United won with a goal in the 18th minute from world`s most expensive midfield purchase, France`s Paul Pogba, and another from Armenia`s captain and right winger, Henrik Mkhitaryan, in the 48th minute. Pogba had been bought from Italy`s  Juventus, and after he`d signed for the Italian club when he hadn`t renewed his contract at United for 2012-13. Four consecutive Serie A titles later, Pogba retuned to Old Trafford for £ 89. 3 million to take his place in a starting line-up largely constructed by Mourinho`s predecessor, Dutchman Van Gaal, apart from Mkhitaryan, who arrived from Borussia Dortmund at the beginning of the 2016-17 season for around £ 30 million, and Ivory Coast center back, Eric Bailly, an eventual adequate £ 30 million replacement for England`s much-missed Rio Ferdinand, who seemed to have left, without any attempt by then manager, Van Gaal, to keep him, to join QPR for the 2014-15 season. Ecuador`s Antonio Valencia, bought by Ferguson from Wigan for £ 16 million as a right winger for the 2009-10 season, but switched to right back by Ferguson`s successors, was captain, and although Bailly was absent through suspension, England`s Chris Smalling, another survivor from the Ferguson era, proved once again that he was an excellent stand-in in an emergency. Italian Matteo Darmian, bought from Torino for around £ 13 million by Gaal for the 2015-16 campaign, was at left back, and Daley Blind was the other central defender, bought from Ajax for around £ 14 million for the 2014-15 term, completed the defence for what had been the meanest Premier League outfit in 2016-17.
 
 Without Ibrahimovic, Mourinho opted for the three man midfield that had been the hallmark of his days at Chelsea; Pogba. Spain`s Ander Herrera, bought from Athletic Bilbao for the 2014-15 season for around £ 29 million, and Marouane Fellaini, brought from Everton by Moyes at the commencement of his year long 2013-14 tenure. Up front Mourinho went for two wingers, Mkhitaryan was on the right, and Spain`s Juan Mata, bought from Chelsea for £ 37. 1 million in January 2014 during Mourinho`s second spell there as manager, where he`d been taken by Mourinho`s predecessor, Portugal`s André Villas-Boas, from Valencia for 2011-12, was on the left. While at Chelsea for the second time, Mourinho won the league and League Cup double in 2014-15, with his usual meanness in terms of goals conceded in the title race, 32, although the Blues were more balanced with Belgium`s Eden Hazard, 14 goals, performing the role that Lampard had in Mourinho`s earlier sojourn at Stamford Bridge, while Spain`s Diego Costa, struck 20 times. Mata, however, was deemed surplus to requirements by Mourinho, who preferred the Brazilian Oscar, although the pair were to be reunited at Old Trafford with great success. Mourinho`s center forward for the Europa Cup Final was Marcus Rashford, who`d emerged as an 18 year old in 2015-16 and played in the F.A. Cup Final win over Palace, 2-1, while England center forward, Wayne Rooney, who`d been captain that day, and for whom goals and appearances in the first team were becoming scarcer since the emergence of teenager, Rashford, and the arrival of Ibrahimovic in the twilight of a great career, was on the substitutes` bench. Pogba`s opening goal was scored from well outside the `keeper`s area after an infield pass from Fellaini on the right to the center of the pitch where Pogba struck a left-footed shot that rose into the top center of the net beyond and through the `keeper`s despairing grasp. After half-time Mkhitaryan hooked in a close-in shot, falling backwards, and with his right foot, 2-0, from a corner headed towards goal by Smalling, and that was the way it stayed. Manchester United had won the UEFA/Europa cup that had eluded them for so long, and had now won all of Europe`s major soccer tournaments.Classic Mourinho Chelsea Season At United

Classic Mourinho Chelsea Season At United

When Portugal`s  José Mourinho was manager at Chelsea, the Blues were mean in defence and mean in attack, because the team won trophies by conceding fewer goals than their opponents, although they scored fewer also. A typical Chelsea team under Morinho`s management was like that of the first Manchester United team to win the inaugural Premier League title in 1992-93. The defence was tight, conceding 31 goals with Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister at the heart of it, while Mark Hughes top scored with 15. Third placed Norwich City had more goals scored against, 65 to 61, which illustrated the value of a Manchester United mean defensive unit that also had Paul Parker at right back and Denis Irwin at left back. The following season, 1993-94, saw United concede only 38 goals, with the same defense, although the addition of Eric Cantona, who`d won the last League Division One title with Leeds in 1991-92, and who got 18 goals compared to Hughes` 12, saw meanness at the back allied to devastating attack, which became the style for the future of the club under the stewardship of manager Alex Ferguson, and Manchester United also won the F.A. Cup Final that 1993-94 season against Glenn Hoddle`s Chelsea, with two penalties from Cantona settling the match in the 60th and 66th minutes, 2-0. A mistake by defender, Frank Sinclair, allowed Hughes to slot home in the 69th minute, 3-0, and  an unselfish pass from midfielder, Paul Ince, when he could have scored easily, afforded center forward, Brian McClair, an unmissable chance in the 92nd minute, 4-0. Mourinho, in his first Chelsea season, 2004-2005, won the Premier League by conceding just 15 goals and his top scorer was midfielder, Frank Lampard, with 13. Lampard was top scorer with 16 in 2005-2006 and Chelsea conceded only 22 goals as they again won the title in the style of that United team of 1992-93, which won by having the meanest defence and a lethal, though unprolific striker, Mark Hughes.

 Bizarrely, Chelsea hadn`t won the league since 1955, and 2006-07 was the last for Mourinho at Chelsea, who had given them two league championships in his first two seasons but, despite winning both the F.A. Cup, 1-0 against United, and the League Cup, Chelsea chairman, Russia`s Roman Abrimovich, sacked Mourinho after what he seemed to view as a disappointing European Champions` Cup draw with Norway`s Rosenborg at home, 1-1, in the qualifying group. Replaced by Israeli, Avram Grant, Chelsea were runners-up to Manchester United for the second successive season after 2006-07 when, despite conceding the fewest goals, 24, United scored more through Portugal`s right winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, 17, and England center forward, Wayne Rooney, 14. Chelsea center forward, Ivory Coast`s Didier Drogba, top scored with 20 in 2006-07, but in 2007-08 England`s marauder, Frank Lampard, was again top scorer with 10, while Ronaldo, 31, Rooney 12, and Argentina`s Carloz Tevez, 14, made sure United won the league. As fate would have it, Ferguson`s team would face Chelsea in the European Champions` League Cup Final and,  after a Cristiano Ronaldo header, and a typical run and shoot from midfield by Frank Lampard, the game ended, 1-1, which meant a penalty decider. Chelsea`s England central defender, John Terry, infamously fell on his arse in the rain as he hit the post, which left winger, Ryan Giggs, to famously stroke home his spot kick winner for the `Red Devils`, 6-5.

 Jose Mourinho`s first season at Manchester United brought a first trophy. The team beat Southampton, 3-2, in the 2016-17 League Cup Final after left winger, Jessie Lingard, scored United second goal in the 38th minute, 2-0. It was uncannily similar to his 110th minute extra time strike to win the F.A. Cup Final, 2-1, against Crystal Palace, the previous, 2015-16 season, after which former Dutch team manager, Louis Van Gaal, lost his tenure as United boss, because of his failure to win the league, a failure that had also meant the end for retired Ferguson`s successor, Everton`s David Moyes, whose only measurable success was to win the English Shield with the championship winning team he`d inherited in 2013 against the F.A. Cup winners, Wigan, 2-0, with a 6th minute header, and a 59th minute left footed strike, after cutting in from the right, from Dutch center forward, Robin Van Persie, who`d been brought from Arsenal for £ 22. 5 million to score the 26 goals that spearheaded yet another successful United league campaign in what, through illness, became Ferguson`s retirment season. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a Swedish center forward brought by Mourinho from Paris St. Germain, aged 34, where he`d won four consecutive French titles after leaving A.C. Milan with whom he`d won the Italian championship in 2010-11, and who finished the 2016-17 season as top scorer at United with 17 goals, had opened the scoring in the 2017 League Cup Final, with a great free kick in the 19th minute, bent around the Southampton wall from well outside the penalty area. A brace from Italy`s striker, Manolo Gabbiadini, either side of half time, in the 46th and 48th minutes, and who`d struck deftly each time he was played in a few yards from the goal`s mouth, levelled after Lingard put United ahead, 2-0, before Ibrahimovic`s header in the 87th minute, won it, 3-2.

 Although Chelsea won the league title in 2016-17, and United finished sixth, it was with the fewest goals conceded, 29, a Mourinho trademark, and United`s end of season was far from unhappy. Mourinho steered the team through to the Final of the UEFA Cup against Netherlands` club Ajax of Amsterdam, at the Friends Arena, Stockholm, Sweden. It was a game Sweden`s Ibrahimovic missed, because of a cruciate ligament knee injury incurred against Belgium`s Anderlecht at home in the quarter-final second leg at Manchester`s Old Trafford stadium, which saw the striker taken off in the 90th minute, although United won, 2-1, through an extra time goal from center forward, Marcus Rashford in the 107th minute, after drawing, 1-1, in Brussels. There were doubts that Ibrahimovic would recover a career that had first taken off with Ajax, where he`d won titles in 2001-02 and 2003-04, before going on to  Internazionale of Milan, where he won three successive Serie A titles, 2006–07, 2007–08, and 2008–09, and then at Barcelona he won the 2009-10 Spanish league title, and the 2009 World Club Cup that the Spaniards had qualified to participate in by beating Manchester United, 2-0, in the 2009 European Cup Final before Ibra`s arrival and from whence he`d go on to further success. As for United, they had to overcome the handicap of playing without Zlatan in the semi-final against Spain`s Celta Vigo.

 A 1-0 win away in Spain, after an outswinging free kick from Marcus Rashford out on the right that struck into the left side of the net in the 69th minute, meant a 1-1 draw at United`s Old Trafford stadium was enough to reach the Europa Cup Final against Ajax on May 24, 2017, although a sending off for Eric Bailly, together with Argentinian defender, Facundo Roncaglia, in the 88th minute, meant the United center half would miss it through suspension. Celta Vigo had gotten their late equalizing goal from a glancing Roncaglia header, after Bailly had failed to judge a corner correctly in the 85th minute, but the `Red Devils` had taken the lead through a headed goal from midfielder, Marouane Fellaini, in the 17th minute at the right post. Rashford had crossed  from the left, far behind Fellaini`s forward run, and the header inside the right upright subsequently proved to be enough. The Final itself was won against Ajax with a goal in the 18th minute from the world`s most expensive midfield purchase, France`s Paul Pogba, followed by another just after half-time from Armenia`s captain and right winger, Henrik Mkhitaryan, in the 48th minute. Pogba had been bought from Italy`s  Juventus, and after he`d signed for the Italian club when he hadn`t renewed his contract at United for 2012-13. Four consecutive Serie A titles later, Pogba returned to Old Trafford for £ 89. 3 million to take his place in a starting line-up largely constructed by Mourinho`s predecessor, Dutchman Van Gaal, apart from Mkhitaryan, who arrived from Borussia Dortmund at the beginning of the 2016-17 season for around £ 30 million, and Ivory Coast center back, Eric Bailly, an eventual adequate £ 30 million replacement for England`s much-missed Rio Ferdinand, who seemed to have left, without any attempt by then manager, Van Gaal, to keep him, to join QPR for the 2014-15 season. Ecuador`s Antonio Valencia, bought by Ferguson from Wigan for £ 16 million as a right winger for the 2009-10 season, but switched to right back by Ferguson`s successors, was captain, and although Bailly was absent through suspension, England`s Chris Smalling, another survivor from the Ferguson era, proved once again that he was an excellent stand-in in an emergency. Italian Matteo Darmian, bought from Torino for around £ 13 million by Gaal for the 2015-16 campaign, was at left back, and Daley Blind was the other central defender, bought from Ajax for around £ 14 million for the 2014-15 term, and completed the defence for what had been the meanest Premier League outfit in 2016-17.

 Without Ibrahimovic, Mourinho opted for the three man midfield that had been the hallmark of his days at Chelsea; Pogba. Spain`s Ander Herrera, bought from Athletic Bilbao for the 2014-15 season for around £ 29 million, and Marouane Fellaini, brought from Everton by Moyes at the commencement of his year long 2013-14 tenure. Up front Mourinho went for two wingers, Mkhitaryan was on the left, although right footed, and Spain`s Juan Mata, bought from Chelsea for £ 37. 1 million in January 2014, during Mourinho`s second spell there as manager, where he`d been taken by Mourinho`s predecessor, Portugal`s André Villas-Boas, from Valencia for 2011-12, was on the right, although left footed, because of the ex-Chelsea boss`s belief in fluidity, and that wide players cutting inside, like old-style inside forwards of the 1950s, can prove more effective, although wing switching also seems to be a feature of Mourinho`s United, so observers shouldn`t pay so much attention to the pundits` idea of team formation, and how the players are expected to line up at the start. While at Chelsea for the second time, Mourinho won the league and League Cup double in 2014-15, with his usual meanness in terms of goals conceded in the title race, 32, although the Blues were more balanced with Belgium`s Eden Hazard, 14 goals, performing the role that Lampard had in Mourinho`s earlier sojourn at Stamford Bridge, while Spain`s Diego Costa, struck 20 times. Mata, however, was deemed surplus to requirements by Mourinho, who preferred the Brazilian Oscar, although the pair were to be reunited at Old Trafford with great success. Mourinho`s center forward for the Europa Cup Final was Marcus Rashford, who`d emerged as an 18 year old in 2015-16 and played in the F.A. Cup Final win over Palace, 2-1, while England center forward, Wayne Rooney, who`d been captain that day, and for whom goals and appearances in the first team were becoming scarcer since the emergence of teenager, Rashford, and the arrival of Ibrahimovic in the twilight of a great career, was on the substitutes` bench. Pogba`s opening goal was scored from well outside the `keeper`s area after an infield pass from Fellaini on the right to the center of the pitch where Pogba struck a left-footed shot that rose into the top center of the net beyond and through the `keeper`s despairing grasp. After half-time Mkhitaryan hooked in a close-in shot, falling backwards, and with his right foot, 2-0, from a corner headed towards goal by Smalling, and that was the way it stayed. Manchester United had won the UEFA/Europa cup that had eluded them for so long, and had now won all of Europe`s major soccer tournaments.

31/01/2017 17:43
Phil Jones Filling In
 
Phil Neville was the right full back who was edged out of the Manchester United line up by future England captain and brother, Gary Neville, so he had to play left full back, although right full back was his natural position. When United obtained the services in January 2001 of the Da Silva brothers from Brazil`s Fluminense, Rafael and Fabio, the situation was repeated, and Rafael played at right back, while right footed left back Fabio`s opportunities were limited, because of United`s traditional preference for left footed players in left sided positions. Consequently, Fabio`s and Phil Neville`s appearances at left full back were determined by the fitness or form of whichever left sided defenders were available to manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, during their playing careers at Manchester United, which in Neville`s case was lengthy, although Fabio and Rafael`s sojourn at Old Trafford`s theater of dreams stadium didn`t weather the end of Ferguson`s reign as manager in 2012-13 when he retired after the team had won 13 league championship titles since his taking over the managerial repsonsibilities from Ron Atkinson in 1986. Phil Neville was amongst the players known as `Fergie`s Fledglings` that began to make their impact on the first team during the club`s first title winning campaign since 1966-67. The players, known as `the famous five`, after a series on children`s adventure novels written by Enid Blyton, were right full backs, Gary and Phil Neville, midfielder Nicky Butt, right winger, David Beckham, and forward, Paul Scholes.
 
 
 Gary Neville made his debut as a substitute in a UEFA Cup tie against Torpedo Moscow in 1992-93, his only appearance that season, and Nicky Butt made but a single appearance in 1992-93 when making his debut as a substitute in a league game against Oldham Athletic, while David Beckham made his sole appearance that 1992-93 campaign on his debut as a substitute for Ukrainian right winger, Andrei Kanchelskis, in a league cup tie against Brighton. Phil Neville didn`t make his debut until 1994-95, when he made one start and one substitute appearance in the league and a single start in an FA Cup tie, but was kept out of the United line up because of brother Gary`s success in that position, who had edged out England`s Paul Parker, bought from Queens Park Rangers for £2 m on August 8 in the 1991-92 season. Although Irwin was a right footed left back too, who`d arrived from Oldham in 1990, and played at right back in the Cup Winners` Cup Final against Barcelona, which United won, 2-1, he edged out Phil`s challenge for the left back role after Irwin himself had been edged out of the right back berth by first Parker, then Gary.
 
 
 Paul Scholes, of course, became a Manchester United legend, and scored both goals on his September 24 debut against Port Vale, 2-1, in the league cup. Scholes that season went on to score 5 league goals in 6 starts and 11 substitute appearances as United failed to win the title from Blackburn and lost the FA Cup Final to Everton, 0-1, in which Gary Neville and Butt started, while Scholes came on in the 72nd minute for left winger, Lee Sharpe, and that was after winning the double of league and FA Cup the previous 1993-94 season, with a grande finale against Chelsea in the knockout competition, 4-0, but the famous five didn`t figure in that final encounter. Phil Neville`s career as a utility player was phenomenal. Unable to obtain a regular spot in either full back position, Phil went on to play in defense and midfield, as well as an attacking wide player, or even center forward, during a career that saw him play more games in his stretched repertoire than many of the first team choice outfield players in any particular season. After his debut season of 1994-95, Phil Neville`s lowest number of appearances was 18 in 1996-97 when United won the fourth league title of Ferguson`s tenure, and his last season was 2004-05 when United lost both the title and the FA Cup Final, 4-5, on penalties after extra time and, although Scholes played, the emergence of Eire`s John O` Shea at right back, and the obtaining of the services of Mikael Silvester at left back from Italian giants, Internazionale of Milan for £4 m in September 1999, meant that the only member of the famous five to participate in that final was Phil`s brother, Gary, amongst the substitutes.
 
 
 During his time at United Phil amassed winning medals in the league, 1995-96, 1996-97, 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2000-01, and 2002-03; the FA Cup, 1995-96, 1998-99, and 2003-04; the UEFA Champions League, 1998-99; and the Intercontinental Cup, 1999. Gary didn`t retire until 2010-11, when he made just 3 league appearances, although by that time he was 36 years of age, and he`d amassed winning medals in the league, 1995-96, 1996-97, 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2002-03, 2006-07, and 2008-09; the FA Cup, 1995-96, 1998-99, and 2003-04; the Football League Cup, 2005-06, and 2009-10; the UEFA Champions League, 1998-99, and 2007-08; the Intercontinental Cup, 1999, and the FIFA Club World Cup, 2008. Although John O` Shea seemed to fill the role of utility player at United for a while, the search for an effective replacement for Phil Neville`s talents didn`t end there. Taking advantage of Ferguson`s policy of blooding youngsters in the League Cup, O` Shea sufficiently impressed the manager in his appearances in that competition in 1999-2000 and 2000-01 to merit 4 (5) league appearances for the first team in 2001-02, and that was the lowest number of appearances John made in a career that lasted at United until the end of the 2010-11 season, during which he amassed winning medals in the league, 2002-03, 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09, and 2010-11; FA Cup, 2003-04; Football League Cup, 2005-06, 2008-09 and 2009-10; UEFA Champions League, 2007-08; and the FIFA Club World Cup, 2008.
 
 
 John O` Shea played in every position for United, including making a save from fellow Eire international, center forward Robbie Keane, as United `keeper against Spurs on February 4, 2007, when the team, 4-0 up (which is how it stayed) had used all of its substitutes, and United`s Dutch `goalie`, Edwin Van Der Sar, was taken off the pitch with a broken nose in the 83rd minute. Aged 30, O` Shea left for Sunderland on July 7, 2011, as United manager Ferguson brought in 19 year old Phil Jones as a more obvious utility replacement from Blackburn Rovers for the 2011-12 season. Jones was known for being able to play at right back, or in central defense, and as a defensive midfield player. It may`ve been felt by the management that O` Shea had proven only that he was adaptable in the positions Ferguson had picked him to play in, but age was probably a determining factor and O` Shea went for an `undisclosed fee`. O` Shea`s versatility had begun to emerge as he played at left-back, right-back, centre-back, and in central midfield during the successful 2002–03 league title campaign. In 2003-04 United were without Rio Ferdinand, after he began a suspension for missing a drugs` test in January, and O'Shea took over from Ferdinand in central defence, helping United reach the FA Cup Final where they triumphed 3-0 over Millwall. Injury to right back, and sometimes central defender, Gary Neville, in the 2005–06 season gave O' Shea more first-team opportunities. In 2006-07 O` Shea scored an injury time winner against Liverpool at Anfield stadium for United in the league, having come on as a substitute for England center forward, Wayne Rooney, and the team won the league that term. Against Everton, in one of the final games of the season, O` Shea bundled the ball into the net, after Everton goalkeeper Iain Turner fumbled left winger Ryan Giggs` corner. United won, 4-2, and it was a decisive goal. Bolton Wanderers were drawing with Chelsea, and defeat would have let Chelsea back into the title race.
 
 
 During the 2007–08 season, Manchester United used O'Shea as an emergency striker, and throughout that campaign O'Shea came off the bench several times to prove himself important as a utility player on the club`s way to a league title and European Cup double. Throughout the 2008–09 season, O` Shea regularly deputized at right back, because of injuries to Gary Neville, and the versatile defender, Wes Brown, a center back often charged with right back duties. On January 20, 2009, O' Shea scored his first goal of the season against Derby County in the 2nd leg of the League Cup semi-final. O'Shea started the 2009 Football League Cup Final against Spurs, before being replaced by Serbian center back, Nemanja Vidić, in the 76th minute, and United won the game 4–1 on penalties. On 29 April 2009, O'Shea scored the only goal of the game in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final against Arsenal, which set United up to go on and win in the second leg, and 4–1 on aggregate. O' Shea started and played the full 90 minutes in the 2009 Champions League Final 0-2 defeat to Barcelona, and was accounted amongst United's better performers. He captained the team in the second leg of United's 2010–11 UEFA Champions League semi-final victory over Germany`s Schalke 04, although he didn`t make the final, which United again disappointingly lost at London`s national Wembley stadium, 1-3, to Spanish giants Barcelona. In many ways it was a surprise that Ferguson let O` Shea go, but hopes were high when Phil Jones was signed that United`s penchant for selecting effective utility players that performed at a successful level would continue.
 
 
 Jones didn`t disappoint, although Ferguson retired in 2012-13 to be replaced by Everton manager, David Moyes, who may`ve lasted in the manager`s seat for longer than a year but for his side losing the League Cup semi-final at home to Sunderland on penalties, 1-2, after losing at the stadium of lights, 1-2, before winning, 2-1, at home in Manchester, so incurring a penalty decider. After 2 penalties United were ahead, 1-0, through Scots` mifielder, Darren Fletcher, while Jones was amongst the United players to miss and, indeed, shot over the bar. First young center forward Danny Welbeck, then Belgian left winger, Adnan Januzaj, and Jones struck out before Rafael missed the last penalty that would have drawn the tie, 2-2, resulting in a further round of `sudden death` spot kicks. At end of season Moyes was replaced by Dutch international manager, Louis Van Gaal, whose contributions to United lasted until his team won the 2016 FA Cup Final, 2-1, against Crystal Palace. His other noteworthy success was a supposedly non-trophy, the International Champions Cup, played for in the United States of America, which the club won against stiff competition and defeating Liverpool, 3-1, in the final before the commencement of the 2014-15 season in which Gaal`s team failed to win any domestic or European title. Only one trophy in three seasons since Ferguson`s 2012-13 title success suggested to United`s American owners that Jose Mourinho should be given the manager`s role at the beginning of the 2016-17 season.
 
 
 Mourinho had steered Porto (2003-04) and Internazionale (2009-10) to European Cup success, and the feeling around the theatre of dreams was that he should have been there sooner.  Phil Jones, who`d played in that Louis Van Gaal International Champions` Cup final victory over Liverpool, added to his 2012-13 league winners` medal obtained under Ferguson`s stewardship. That term Jones made 13 starts in the league and 4 substitute appearances. In Gaal`s grandstand finish to the 2015-16 campaign Jones added an FA Cup winners` medal as an unused substitute. He`d made only 6 league starts and 0 in the FA Cup, which left Mourinho to handle a utility player, then aged 24, who hadn`t yet overachieved like his predecessors. Largely due to the absence of £ 30 m Mourinho buy from Spain`s Villareal, Ivory Coast center back, Eric Bailly, playing for his nation in the Africa Cup competition, Jones played in the successful 4-1 quarter-final win in the League Cup against West Ham, and both the 2-0 semi-final first leg win and 1-2 second leg away defeat against Hull City, which took United through to the Final, 3-2, on aggregate. Should Jones play in the final on February 26, 2017, it`d be an opportunity to prove his versatility and rank his name alongside those great utility players that Manchester United have produced over the years.
23/12/2016 20:18
From Left At The Front To Right At The Back
 
A great Manchester United tradition is the switching of the successful left, or right winger, to the left, or right, full back position. The most obviously successful players include England`s John Aston Snr, whose son, John Aston Jnr, was left winger in the European Cup Final success over Benfica, 4-1, at England`s national stadium Wembley, London, in 1968. United had won the English league championship in 1964-65 when England`s John Connelly played on the right wing, and Northern Ireland`s George Best played on the left. Though George Best was nominally the left winger, Best was so prolifically mercurial in terms of his positional play amongst the forwards, England`s John Jnr was given the left wing role for the 1965-66 season and thereafter, because then the team knew where they were if they needed to play the ball wide out to the left. John Jnr would be there waiting, whereas George might be anywhere along the forward line - and usually was! Although John Aston Jnr played on the left wing, he didn`t play at left full back regularly for Manchester United, whereas his father, John Aston Snr, was an outside left, who had made the transition to left full back for the 1948 F. A. Cup Final against Blackpool, which United won 4-2. During the 1951-2 championship winning season, future United captain, Roger Byrne, scored 7 goals in the left wing position, but by the time the 1955-56 and 1956-57 title winning seasons came around, Roger had switched to left back in place of Aston Snr, which began the modern tradition of United wingers making the transition to full back.
 
 
 The plane carrying the team back from a 3-3 draw in Belgrade against Red Star, during the club`s second, and successive, campaign to win the European Cup in 1957-58, crashed in snow at Germany`s Munich airport, killing both England and United captain and left back, Roger Byrne, as well as his understudy, Geoff Bent. United`s search for a full back replacement didn`t aim to find a winger who could play full back and Irish left back, Tony Dunne, bought by manager, Matt Busby, for 5, 000 GBP from Irish side, Shelbourne, in retaining his place in the squad until 1973, meant that left wingers, even if they could have filled the left full back position, didn`t. United`s right wing, John Connelly, was subsequently replaced by Scot, Willie Morgan, who came from Burnley as Connelly had done before him, and Morgan scored the last gasp 90th minute goal that levelled the scores, 1-1, at Old Trafford, Manchester, in the Intercontinental Cup Final between the European Cup holders and the South American champions, Estudiantes de la Plata of Argentina, by virtue of their winning the Copa Libertadores against Brazil`s Palmeiras, 2-0. Estudiantes had won the away leg in Argentina, 1-0, and so took the trophy home to Buenos Aires. Willie Morgan would captain United to their only recognized trophy after `68, the 1974-5 second tier title, after relegation in 1973-4, before future England left winger, Gordon Hill, and future England right winger, Steve Coppell, arrived from Millwall and Tranmere respectively, to take United on a wing and a prayer to defeat in the 1976 F.A. Cup Final, 0-1, against Southampton, and finally victory, 2-1, in 1977 against Liverpool.
 
 
 It would be some time before the tradition of wingers making the transition to full back would reappear at Manchester United, although successor to Busby`s ultimate replacement, Tommy Docherty, that is, manager Dave Sexton, achieved nothing tangible with Welshman Mickey Thomas on the left wing, rather than England`s supposedly unreliable Hill, who`d top scored in the two seasons before Sexton`s arrival, but nevertheless was sold to Derby for the alleged unreliability that had seen Docherty replace him with Irish midfield destroyer, David McCreery, in those successive F.A. Cup Finals. The new manager succeeding trophyless Sexton, was Ron Atkinson who`d win the F.A. Cup, 4-0 against Brighton in 1983, but with only a single winger, Welshman Alan Davies, on the right of the team after a career ending injury to England`s Coppell. He`d been the victim of a vicious high challenge from left full back, József Tóth, which shattered his knee during a World Cup qualifying game against Hungary in 1982. Coppell would announce his retirment in 1983 aged 28. Atkinson, however, would win the F.A. Cup Final again in 1985, 1-0 against Everton, after United were down to ten men, with center back, Kevin Moran, sent off in the 78th minute, before a curling shot on the right of the Everton area from teenage Northern Ireland forward, Norman Whiteside, found its way past the Everton `keeper`s far post in the 110th minute. In that Final Atkinson played Scot Gordon Strachan on the right, and Denmark`s Jesper Olsen on the left. Strachan was expected to be the doyen of Ferguson when he arrived as manager from Aberdeen in 1986, because Gordon had helped Aberdeen win the European Cup Winners` Cup in 1983, but although Strachan went on to Leeds and the title in 1991-2, Ferguson opted to buy Danny Wallace from Southampton, and it was he that raided down either wing in Ferguson`s earliest successes, for example, 1-0 in the 1990 F.A. Cup Final against Crystal Palace in which he played, and before left winger Lee Sharpe arrived from Torquay United in 1988 as Wallace`s rival. Sharpe made his debut prophetically at left back; in the tradition of left wingers who could play there too. Sharpe switched between left wing, and left full back, with a high degree of success during a United career that lasted until the United F.A. Cup Final and championship `double` winning season, 1995-96.
 
 
 Liverpool were beaten, 1-0, in the 1996 F.A. Cup Final, thanks to an 85th minute volley from French forward, Eric Cantona, through a crowd of players in the Liverpool area. In the league Newcastle United were overcome by 82 points to 78, and Lee Sharpe started 21 times while making 10 substitute appearances for 4 goals during the successful title campaign. Lee was an unused substitute in the F.A. Cup Final but qualified for a medal. It was United`s second double winning season after 1993-94. That season Sharpe made 26 starts and 4 as substitute, scoring 9 goals as United won the title with 92 points over Blackburn Rovers` 84, while the F.A. Cup Final was duly won, 4-0, against Chelsea, and Sharpe came on as an 84th minute substitute, which means he`s among the few players to win the `double` twice. Although it now seems unbelievable, Lee Sharpe`s 27 starts for 1 goal in the season 1992-93 helped to give United their first title in 26 years after the 1966-67 title win that qualified the club to participate in the European Cup that they finally won for the first time in 1968. Consequently, left wing and left full back, Lee Sharpe, is an unsung hero of United`s of immense stature. Coming on in the 75th minute as a substitute, Lee qualified for a medal in the 1992 League Cup Final win over Nottingham Forest, 1-0, which was then United`s only success in a competition that had begun in 1960. With 3 league championship winners` medals, 2 F.A. Cup winners` medals, and a League Cup winners` medal, Lee Sharpe is among the most decorated players ever to inject the thrust needed from either the wing or full back position to take United`s powerful engine forward.
 
 
 The days of Beckham and Giggs are legendary. With Ryan Giggs on the left wing, and David Beckham on the right, United made their second appearance in the European Cup Final at Barcelona`s Nou Camp stadium in 1999, when they came back from an early 6th minute goal from a direct free kick by right winger, Mario Basler, to win the trophy in extra time against Germany`s Bayern Munich, 2-1. A 91st minute goal poached inside the penalty area by England`s Teddy Sheringham was followed by a similar 93rd minute strike from Norway`s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The performances of Beckham and Giggs on the wings meant that, even if wingers emerged at United during their period of pre-eminence, a full back berth was all their aspiration. Beckham, captain of England, left United for Real Madrid at the beginning of the 2003-4 season with 6 championship wins, 1995-6, 1996-7, 1998-9, 1999-2000, 2000-1, and 2002-3; and 2 F.A. Cup wins, 1996, and 1999 as a part of the illustrious treble of league title, European Cup and F.A. Cup; as well as a win in the Intercontinental Cup Final against Brazil`s Palmeiras, 1-0, thanks to a 35th minute run and tap in at the far post by midfielder, Roy Keane, from a Ryan Giggs` left wing cross. Portugal`s Cristiano Ronaldo was bought from Sporting CP for 12. 24 million GBP, and was a more than adequate replacement for Beckham before the lure of Real Madrid took him away too at the beginning of the 2009-10 season. Ronaldo was no right back, and after his first success with United in the 2004 F.A. Cup Final against Millwall, 3-0, in which he headed the first goal in the 41st minute, came the League Cup in 2006 against Wigan, 4-0, with Cristiano getting the third in the 59th minute. Cristiano would amass a plentiful haul of silverware; titles in 2006-7, 2007-8, and the European Cup in 2008 followed by the World Club Cup. The league and League Cup `double` was won in 2009 with Ronaldo scoring in the League Cup Final penalty shoot out, 4-1, after the game against Tottenham Hotspur had finished, 0-0, so replacing the Portuguese right wing was a Herculean task for Ferguson.
 
 
 Ryan Giggs remained with United until he was over 40 years of age, and indeed helped the club to win the league in 2012-13, with 22 appearances for 2 goals, after his debut in 1991, before finally retiring in the 2013-14 season with 12 appearances that would have qualified him for a title winners` medal if the team had won. Giggs` medal haul was 13 titles; 1992-3, 1993-4, 1995-6, 1996-7, 1998-9, 1999-2000, 2000-1, 2002-3, 2006-7, 2007-8, 2008-9, 2010-11, 2012-13; 4 F.A. Cups, 1993-4, 1995-6, 1998-9, 2003-4; 4 League Cups, 1991-2, 2005-6, 2008-9, 2009-10, and in terms of world football, those 2 European Cups; 1999, and 2008 in which Giggs scored the winning goal in the penalty shoot out that beat Chelsea, 6-5, when the scores had been 1-1 after a 45th minute goal from Chelsea midfielder, Frank Lampard, cancelled United`s Portuguese right winger Cristiano Ronaldo`s header from a left footed cross on the right wing by right full back, Wes Brown, in the 26th minute. Giggs had begun winning world trophies early in his career with the European Super Cup of 1991 against Red Star, 1-0, effectively celebrating Alex Ferguson`s United`s first European trophy, the European Cup Winners` Cup of 1991, when they beat Barcelona, 2-1, with both goals from fellow Welsh striker, Mark Hughes, and after a successful F.A. Cup winning campaign in 1990 that was resolved after left full back, Lee Martin, ran the length of the Wembley pitch to crash the ball past the Crystal Palace `keeper in the 59th minute, 1-0. For the 2008 World Club Cup win, Giggs remained on the bench as an unused substitute who nevertheless qualified for a WCC winners medal. Watching center forward, Wayne Rooney, score the 73rd minute goal from where he was lurking on the edge of Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito`s area, where he was conserving energy to cover ground for the team, after Serbian center back, Nemanja Vidic, had been sent off in the 49th minute, United`s 1-0 victory over LDU Quito completed the Welsh left winger`s haul of titles outside England and of global renown.
 
 
 Like his predecessor before him, Sir Matt Busby, Sir Alex Ferguson was made a knight of the realm by Queen Elizabeth II, and it was to Ecuador that Ferguson looked for a right winger subsequent to United`s victory in the World Club Cup Final over South America`s champions, Ecuador`s LDU Quito, by virtue of their winning the Copa Libertadores against Fluminense, 3-1 away on penalties, and after the two legs had produced a 5-5 draw, 1-3 away, and 4-2 at home, which qualified the Ecuadorians for the semi-finals of the World Club Cup against Mexico`s Pachua, which they won, 2-0, before losing the Final, 1-0, to Manchester United. Encouraged by what he`d seen of Ecuadorian soccer, Antonio Valencia was the right winger that Sir Alex Ferguson brought from Wigan for about 16 million GBP for the 2009-10 season. Ferguson would retire in 2013 with his 13th title as United manager, but Valencia would still be there after Everton`s Scot, David Moyes, and Holland`s Dutch team manager, Louis Van Gaal, when Jose Mourinho took over the managerial duties for the 2016-17 season. Beginning as a right winger, Valencia`s highest goal tally was 5 in 2009-10, and he played on the right wing from the start in United`s 2-1 League Cup Final win over Aston Villa. Although making only eight starts in 2010-11 with two substitute appearances, Valencia qualified for a league winners medal as United topped the table with 80 points from Chelsea`s 71. In Ferguson`s final season in charge, Antonio made 24 starts and six substitute appearances as United took the title with 89 points to Manchester City`s 78. Used more effectively as a right full back by successive managers after Ferguson`s retirement, in the tradition of wingers switched to full back, Antonio Valencia triumphed again in 2015-16 when United came from behind to beat Crystal Palace in the F.A. Cup Final, 2-1, with an 81st minute goal from Spain`s right midfielder, Juan Mata, cancelling out a 78th minute strike from English substitute midfielder, Jason Puncheon, who had come on in the 72nd minute, before England`s left winger, and 90th minute substitute, Jessie Lingard, volleyed home from outside the Palace `keeper`s area in the 111th minute. A trophy haul of 2 league championships, the League Cup, and the F.A. Cup meant that Valencia`s name would at least be ranked among the wingers who were switched to full back with great success at Manchester United.
04/11/2016 12:13

George Best Still Contributed

In the early years of the European Champions` Cup, the winner of the English league gained entry into the competition and, if they won, they`d be afforded the opportunity to play in the Intercontinental Cup against the Champions of South America, winners of the American continent`s equivalent of the European Cup, the Copa Libertadores, or `cup of freedom`, which the giant clubs of South America in Brazil and Argentina competed for against the other countries of the region before gearing up for the Intercontinental Cup Final contest with the Champions of Europe. The inaugural winners of the competition were Spain`s Real Madrid, 5-1, at their Estadio Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid against Uruguay`s Peñarol after a draw at the Uruguayans` Estadio Centenario, Montevideo, 0-0. An unsurprising result to the Europeans, because Real Madrid had won the inaugural European Champions` Cup competition in 1956 against France`s Stade De Reims, 4-3, and thereafter in 1957 versus Fiorentina of Italy, 2-0; 1958, versus A. C. Milan of Italy, 3-2; 1959 versus Stade De Reims, 2-0, and 1960 versus Germany`s Eintracht Frankfurt, 7-3. The heart of the team was comprised of foreign talent, for example, French playmaker Raymond Kopa, Uruguayan center back, José Santamaría, Argentine `keeper, Rogelio Domínguez, and striker, Ferenc Puskas of Hungary, whose national side had astonished the soccer world by beating England at home at Wembley for the first time ever, 3-5, in 1953. Although Manchester United perhaps could have beaten the Spanish giants in 1958, or afterwards, the Munich air disaster in which eight of the players, who had just qualified for the 1958 semi-final by drawing 3-3 in Belgrade against Red Star, died in the snow as the plane carrying the team back to Manchester crashed on the German runway during take off. Those who lost their lives would have been the heart of the England side that, along with United`s surviving left wing, Bobby Charlton, eventually won the World Cup at the national stadium, Wembley, London, in 1966, with four goals from West Ham United forwards, Geoff Hurst (3) and Martin Peters, 4-2, against Germany.

 The players who died at Munich were England`s left back and captain, Roger Byrne, and his understudy, Geoff Bent; center half Mark Jones; midfielder Eddie Colman; the play anywhere genius, Duncan Edwards; center forward Tommy Taylor; left winger, David Pegg, and Irish forward, Liam Whelan. England`s right wing, Johnny Berry, and inside forward and sometimes center half, Danny Blanchflower, brother of Ireland`s Jackie, who`d win the English F.A. Cup and League Championship with Spurs in 1961, never played again because of their injuries. England`s story was similar to United`s, who went on to lose the semi-final of the European Cup in 1958 to Italy`s A.C. Milan, 0-4, at the San Siro stadium, after managing to win, 2-1, at their Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, with an 80th minute penalty from Ernie Taylor brought by manager, Matt Busby, from Aston Villa as a quick replacement for lost stars. Two years after England`s World Cup win, Manchester United won the European Cup against Portuguese club, Benfica, 4-1, after extra time when the game had ended 1-1. Bobby Charlton, now playing in a deep lying center forward role, as he had for England in the World Cup in 1966, had scored in the 53rd minute with a rare header, but that had been cancelled out by Benfica`s right half, Jamie Graça, in the 79th minute. A dribbler`s 92nd minute dream goal from Irish superstar, George Best, made it 2-1, and another from England`s 18 year old Brian Kidd in the 94th minute, whose header had been headed back to him by a Benfica defender, but he`d remained calm enough to head it again, and in over the Portuguese defense under the bar it went, 3-1, before a 99th minute lobbed volley from a narrow angle by Charlton secured the 1968 European Champions` Cup for an English team for the first time.

 Although Manchester United had completed the given format of winning the English league and then the European Cup, the Intercontinental Cup Final against the champions of South America by virtue of that continent`s competing in the Copa Libertadores wasn`t perceived by the English as a part of the format needing to be completed. The Intercontinental Cup was perceived by the English press, and indeed advertised so, as a matter of form, that is, it wasn`t a part of a competition format whereby the winners of the English league had, as their ultimate objective, being crowned as intercontinental champions. It wasn`t until the format of qualification for the European Cup changed from being winners of the league to winners and runners-up that the Intercontinental Cup loomed larger as a part of the format of a much greater soccer vision. Manchester United again won the European Cup in Spain at Barcelona`s Nou Camp stadium in 1999, with two very late goals from England`s Teddy Sheringham and Norway`s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, 2-1, against Bayern Munich. The German team had led since the 6th minute through a low free kick from forward, Mario Basler, which was awarded after United center back, Ronny Johnsen, brought down Carsten Jancker. With his right foot Basler bent the ball around the United wall from just outside the penalty area, and into the net beyond Danish `keeper Peter Schmeichel. The Germans had led until United`s despair ended in a late attacking flourish of the never say die footballing style for which they are justifiably famed. United had a corner, and with little time left `keeper Schmeichel, who`d scored in similar circumstances, ventured up to Bayern's penalty area. Beckham flighted the corner in just over Schmeichel's head, and center forward, Dwight Yorke, 18 goals in the league that season, put the ball back towards the crowded area. Bayern substitute midfielder, Thorsten Fink, had been brought on by Bayern manager, Ottmar Hitzfeld, who`d receive much criticism for it, because Fink replaced sweeper Lothar Matthäus, 37 years of age, and Hitzfeld clearly felt he was a tired risk by the 80th minute, but Fink failed to clear a ball that probably wouldn`t ever have troubled Matthäus, and the ball arrived at the feet of Ryan Giggs, whose shot fortuitously found Sheringham, who latched onto it gleefully to swipe it into the bottom corner of the net with his right boot in the 91st minute. Neither Sheringham nor Solskjaer were chosen to start against Bayern, and as Sheringham was on for left winger, Jesper Blomqvist, in the 67th minute, Solskjaer, who`d scored 12 league goals that season, replaced center forward, Andy Cole (17), in the 81st minute almost immediately after Lothar Matthäus left the fray.

 Sheringham had scored only twice in the league in 1998-99, but had redeemed himself by scoring with a low drive under Newcastle `keeper, Steve Harper, after a through ball from Scholes, in the F.A. Cup Final, which United won, 2-0, and so Sheringham had been picked to be amongst the substitutes. Within 30 seconds of the restart after Sheringham`s substitute`s strike, another Beckham corner found his head, and he nodded the ball down across the face of goal to where Solskjær, reacting quickly, stuck out his boot and poked the ball into the roof of the Bayern net in the 93rd minute. Matthäus` departure had ultimately sunk Bayern, and Hitzfelt was blamed, but United`s never say die attitude had won through for them again and the European Cup was theirs for only the second time in the club`s history since Benfica were beaten, 4-1, at London`s Wembley stadium in 1968. Despite winning the 1999 European Cup, the team had qualified for the competition without winning the league, and so the 1999 Intercontinental Cup Final against Palmeiras of Brazil, which United won, 1-0, on neutral ground at the National Stadium, Tokyo, with a goal from Irish midfield dynamo and captain, Roy Keane, who appeared at the far post to steer in a left wing cross from Welsh winger, Ryan Giggs in the 35th minute, loomed on the club`s horizon as a part of the format of the competition that had been taken on by the club in competing for the European Cup. In the Intercontinental Cup Final of 1968, Manchester United had lost to Estudiantes of Argentina, 0-1, away, and on aggregate overall, 2-1, after being only able to manage a draw at Old Trafford thanks to a late 90th minute goal from Scots` winger, Willie Morgan, bought that season to replace John Connelly, who`d arrived from Burnley himself. Morgan, who in 1974-75 would captain United out of the second tier of English soccer, whence they`d been relegated in 1973-74, had been seen at Turf Moor as a more than adequate replacement for England`s Connelly, where the team performed as well with Morgan, if not better, than it had with Connelly, who won the league title with Manchester United in 1966-67.

Because Manchester United had to win the English title to enter the European Cup competition, the format was seen as winning the European Cup after winning the league, whereas the later application form that had to be completed was of a qualifying position in the English league to gain entrance to the European Cup competition and, by winning it, qualify to compete in the Intercontinental Cup Final against the winners of the South American Copa Libertadores. Consequently, the application form shifted the format from winning the English league to winning the Intercontinental Cup, which was the true importance attached to the winning of the European Cup, that is, the chance to win the Intercontinental Cup. That had always been seen as the goal by the South American teams because their format was international competition, so the Intercontinental Cup was the zenith, whereas the English teams were conditioned to believe it was a formal friendly without any competition merit. In short, English clubs were encouraged not to compete on the world`s stage, because the clubs would become bigger than the country, which happens in the United States of America; for example, in Major League Soccer (MLS), where United`s pioneering Irish wing legend, George Best, saw out much of his playing career after leaving United in their relegation season, 1973-74, saying he wouldn`t play in any division other than England`s premier. Best played for California`s San Jose Earthquakes in 1979-80, and was second highest goalscorer with 8 after Steve David`s 14. In 1980-1 George was the top scorer with 13 for the Earthquakes, who finished a creditable fourth in the Western Conference of the North American Soccer League in each of those successive seasons he played there. By 1982-83 the US` experiment with soccer had produced the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL), but although George scored 32 goals overall during his MISL career with the Earthquakes, their highest place in the Western Conference was third during his sojourning there. Best was followed to the US by, amongst others, Manchester United and England captain, right winger, David Beckham, who also helped to enhance the profile of the MLS and make the North American and Europe Intercontinental Champions Cup a significant prize in world football terms when, after winning the European Cup with Manchester United in 1999, he went on to win the Spanish title in 2006-07 with Real Madrid, and then the MLS Cup with the Los Angeles Galaxy in consecutive seasons; 2011 and 2012.

 In 2006 the Earthquakes moved to Houston, Texas, to become the Houston Dynamo, because of greater financial opportunities. Although the USA is a single nation, and the Houston Dynamo still played in the Western Conference, despite being a state other than California, where the Earthquakes originally hailed from, the states does provide a model of how England`s Football Association restricts clubs from becoming financially more lucrative in global terms; for example, by devaluing the Intercontinental Cup teams are kept from moving away from Europe in order to be more successful. Ignoring prejudice against spreading their wings to become a greater world force, Manchester United won the 2014 North America and Europe International Champions` Cup in the Sun Life Stadium, Miami, although Liverpool were 1-0 after an early 14th minute penalty from Liverpool`s captain, Steven Gerard, which was awarded for a trip on Raheem Sterling by United defender, Phil  Jones. After an equalizing goal from England`s center forward, Wayne Rooney, meeting Mexican striker Javier Hernandez’s arrowing cross in the 55th minute with a neat left-foot volley, two minutes later came a goal from Spain`s inside right, Juan Mata, whose shot was deflected off Mamadou Sakho in the 57th minute, 2-1. A third followed in the 88th minute from England left winger, Jessie Lingard, who`d come on as a substitute after the second United goal. Controlling a cross from England`s Ashley Young, who`d begun on the left, but had moved over to the right wing after injury to Antonio Valenica. Lingard half-volleyed low from the edge of the box beyond Liverpool `keeper, Mignolet. Although United celebrated with the trophy, it was a further instance of an international competition that didn`t receive national recognition at home in England. However, the subsequent inauguration of International Champions` Cup competitions in China and Australia gave warning to nation states that clubs might abandon localized fan bases for greater financial success. Manchester United had canvassed China for the organizers of the International Champions Cup through tours, and with the American business family, the Glazers, determining the board`s strategy, it couldn`t have come as much of a surprise that the International Champions Cup of North America and Europe should have been won by the team in 2014 whether the English F.A. thought it important or otherwise, and that the International Champions Cup of China and Australia should have been won by Real Madrid in 2015 suggests that perhaps Europe is becoming too parochial for its soccer giants who, adopting the approach of Major League Soccer in the USA, might seek to relocate for greater financial rewards and appreciation from a global fan base.

 Manchester United won the European Cup again in 2008 at the Luzhniki stadium, Moscow, against English rivals, Chelsea, on penalties, 6-5, after extra time, when the final score had been 1-1 in normal time through a 26th minute headed goal from Manchester United`s Portuguese right winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, from a right wing cross from right full back Wes Brown`s left foot, which was equalized by a typical surging 45th minute midfield run and strike from Chelsea`s Frank Lampard. After their success in the European Cup the club were invited to take part in the World Club Championship. In the 28th minute of the semi-final victory against Japanese side, Gamba Osaka, United`s Serbian central defender, Nemanja Vidić, from a Ryan Giggs’ corner, out-jumped Gamba captain, Satoshi Yamaguchi, to power home a header past `keeper, Yosuke Fujigaya, from 12 yards, 1-0. Portuguese right winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, put United 2-0 up in first-half injury time. Again the ball came from a Giggs` corner, and again the Japanese struggled to cope with the aerial threat. Myojin was out-jumped as Ronaldo directed a powerful header past `keeper, Fujigay. United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, didn`t bring on his star striker, England`s Wayne Rooney, until the 74th minute, but Gamba Osaka immediately pulled the score back to 2-1, courtesy of striker, Masato Yamakazi, with a shot from the right well outside the penalty area. A minute later, however, Rooney finished well, after a long ball from Scots` central midfielder, Darren Fletcher, split open the Japanese defence, 3-1. Fletcher then headed in French left back Patrice Evra`s cross, 4-1. In the 78th minute, and after linking up well with left-winger, Giggs, Rooney made it 5-1 a minute later. United conceded a penalty, 2-5, when United`s England right back, Gary Neville, was adjudged to have handled a cross from the left wing, and in the 85th minute Yasuhito Endō calmly scored from the spot, 2-5. Hideo Hashimoto scored in second half injury time in a way almost identical to Yamakazi`s first half effort, 1-2. From the right and well outside the penalty area, Hashimoto struck the ball past Dutch `keeper, Edwin Van Der Sar, 3-5, but United were through to the World Club Cup Final against LDU Quito of Ecuador.

 In the Final in the International Stadium Yokohama, Japan, a single goal against the winners of the Copa Libertadores, South America`s Champions of Ecuador, LDU Quito, scored by England`s center forward, Wayne Rooney, won the game for Manchester United, 1-0. Remaining where he was at the left corner of the LDU Quito area, Wayne played the ball back to left sided Brazilian midfielder, Anderson. He then waited while Anderson played the ball into the path of England right central midfielder, Michael Carrick, in front of the LDU Quito area. Carrick pushed the ball forward to Manchester United right winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, inside the LDU Quito area with two players in attendance. With his back to the goal, Cristiano Ronaldo turned to his right and slipped the ball to Wayne, who was still waiting at the left edge of the LDU Quito area where he`d begun the play. Rooney drove a shot low and right footed into the right corner of the LDU Quito net. Rooney had been lurking on the edge of the Ecuadorians` area after Serbian center back, Nemanja Vidić, had been sent off in the 49th, so causing the Manchester United front players to look for maximum impact, rather than mobility, which those behind them needed to employ to cover for their absent defensive colleague. Rooney`s 73rd minute goal had given the tiring defense a cushion useful enough to frustrate the South Americans and give the English team the World Club Championship.

 Although the club qualified for the European Cup in 2008 as winners of the English league title and were champions again in 2007-08 after which the World Club Championship was played between Manchester United as European Cup winners against Chelsea, 6-5 on penalties after a 1-1 draw, the format had at last been recognized. It wasn`t that the aim was to win the English league in order to win the European Cup, it was to win the World Club Cup by qualifying for the Final by winning the European Cup. Although United qualified for the European Cup by winning the English league, and then winning the European Cup to give them a chance of winning the World Club Cup, it wasn`t necessary to win the English league to qualify for the European Cup, because the aim was to succeed in the new format in which the winners of the European Cup qualified for the World Club Cup Finals, which were the goal of the biggest clubs that had been unrecognized as South America`s. Multiple World Cup wins by Uruguay in 1930 and 1950, Argentina in 1978 and 1986, and Brazil in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002, should have left the English in no doubt as to who to beat to be champions. Although Manchester United won the English championship again in 2008-09, they lost the Final of the European Cup to Spain`s Barcelona, 0-2, at the Stadio Olympica in Rome, Italy, after goals from Cameroon`s Samuel Eto`o in the 10th minute following an exchange of passes between Spanish central midfielder, Andrés Iniesta, and right wing, Lionel Messi, after United`s defense had timorously backed away from Iniesta following an attempted headed clearance from England midfielder, Michael Carrick. Messi played the ball through into the path of Eto`o, who easily stepped inside Nemanja Vidić`s attempts to shepherd him harmlessly to the goal line and out of play, to toe poke the ball past United `keeper, Van Der Sar. Barcelona scored a second through Argentina`s Messi in the 70th minute, after a cross from Spain`s Xavi on the right of the United `keeper`s area, affording the then world`s best player a chance to send a header looping over Van Der Sar and into the far side of the goal to qualify for the World Club Cup semi-final against Mexico`s Atlante.

 The Spaniards beat Atlante, 3-1, after the Mexicans had taken an early lead in the 5th minute through Guillermo Rojas. Estudiantes of Argentina led in the Final, which took place at Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi, and were captained by Juan Sebastián Verón, son of Juan Ramón Verón, La Bruja, `the witch`, who`d tormented United in the 1968 Intercontinental Cup Final to score the opening headed goal at Old Trafford in the 6th minute after a free-kick from defender, Raúl Madero, which had left United too much to do, 0-1. Marcus Conigliaro had scored with a header the only goal of the Buenos Aires away leg in the 27th minute from a corner by his striking partner, Filipe Ribaudo. Despite Morgan`s late Old Trafford equalizer, Estudiantes won the Intercontinental Cup of 1968 and Juan Ramón Verón`s son, Juan `Seba`, La Brujita, `the little witch`, who`d won a league championship medal as a central midfielder with United in 2002-03, must have thought the 2009 World Club Cup was going to Estudiantes, `the students`, after a 37th minute headed goal from center forward, Mauro Bosellia, until a very late Pedro equalizer in the 89th minute. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Barcelona center forward, who`d be taken to United from Paris St Germain by United supremo, Jose Mourinho, for the start of the 2016-17 campaign, sent a long ball through to Gerard Piqué, who`d been a young and promising center half at United, and had played 12 times between 2004 and 2008, before going back to his native Spain. Piqué headed it on towards Pedro, whose looping header found the net. Messi gave the Spanish victory in extra time, 2-1, after he chested a 110th minute cross from Brazilian right back, Dani Alves, into the Estudiantes` goal, and the world club game had arrived.

04/11/2016 09:23

Why Did UEFA Abolish The Cup Winners` Cup?

Manchester United won the European Cup Winners` Cup for the only time in the club`s history in 1991 after qualifying in a difficult competition, the F.A. Cup, which had been a model for similar cup competitions throughout the world since its inception in 1871-2 based on the perceived need for a national cup competition. The Manchester Senior Cup, which the `red devils` of United have won on 33 occasions since their days as `the heathens` of Newton Heath, LYR, won the first trophy of United`s history in 1886, 2-1, against Manchester, was won more recently in 2013-14 against Manchester Ciry, 4-1, with four goals from center forward, James Wilson, and such cup competitions proliferated in the wake of the inauguration of the national competition, the 1871-2 F.A. Cup, because the nature of the cup format is as a defining instrument.

 Manchester United are record holding winners of the F.A. Cup on 12 occasions with the first being in 1908-09, 1-0, against Bristol City, with a goal from Sandy Turnbull. Although after winning the 1990 F.A. Cup Final replay subsequent to a 3-3 draw against Crystal Palace, 1-0, with a goal from marauding left full back, Lee Martin, United went on to win the European Cup WInners Cup (ECWC) in 1991 against Spain`s F.C. Barcelona, 2-1, with goals from Welsh center forward, Mark Hughes, UEFA had abolished the ECWC in 1999, so United`s 2015-16 typically swashbuckling defeat of Palace, 2-1, with goals from Spain`s right midfielder Juan Mata in the 81st minute, when the team were, 0-1, and an extra time strike in the 110th minute from England left winger, Jessie Lingard, didn`t present an opportunity for the team to use the cup format as an instrument to further definition. In 1999, which was the year that Manchester United, as holders of the European Cup, beating Germany`s Bayern Munich, 2-1, with injury time goals from forwards, England`s Teddy Sheringham and Norway`s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, qualified through that defining instrument to play the Final of the Intercontinental Cup against Palmeiras of Brazil, which they won thanks to a strike from Irish midfield captain, Roy Keane, who guided a cross from Welsh left winger, Ryan Giggs, into the net at the far post in the 35th minute, 1-0. It was a `defining moment` for that cup competition, because United qualified for the inagural World Club Cup through winning the Intercontinental Cup, and eventually won the World Club Cup in 2008.

 Manchester United qualified for the WCC Finals through the defining instrument of the European Cup competition. United beat Chelsea on penalties in the Final, 6-5, after the game had ended, 1-1. A 26th minute header from Portuguese right winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, from a left footed cross out on the right wing by United right back, Wes Brown, had been cancelled out just before half-time by Chelsea`s England goal scoring midfielder, Frank Lampard. When Chelsea`s captain and center back, England`s John Terry, slipped in the rain at Moscow`s Luzhniki stadium and hit the post when he had to score to win the European Cup for Chelsea, Ryan Giggs stepped up to take the crown for United. Consequently, Manchester United would have qualified for the Intercontinental Cup (IC) Final between the champions of South America, LDU Quito, who`d won the Copa Libertadores, `freedom`s cup`, but FIFA had abolished it, as UEFA had abolished that other defining instrument, the ECWC, won by United in 1991. In short, two of the trophies constituting defining instruments won by United were abolished in quick succession to prevent the club from reaching a higher definition in world soccer terms. Or, in other words, because cup competitions define champions on a continent wide scale, UEFA abolished the ECWC, and FIFA abolished the IC, to prevent clubs from defining themselves as continental and, ultimately, world champions.

 Although the World Club Cup Finals of 2008 looked more egalitarian and Manchester United had to defeat the Japanese team, Gamba Osaka, 5-3, to meet the winners of the other qualifying semi-final, LDU Quito of Ecuador, who were South American champions after winning the Copa Libertadores, as United were European Champions, and so the predicable Finalists made it through, in fact the abolition of the ECWC and the IC were symptomatic of an attempt by the Europeans to establish a totalitarian soccer dictatorship preventing European clubs from forming a world league with the South American Copa Libertadores as a South American championship cornerstone of an establishable format including the championships of Asia, Africa, and North America. In simple terms, a world league would contain five continents, that is, Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa, and Australia, which of course looks the weakest, but nevertheless is a logical soccer unity incorporable into a global structure for defining champions through cup competition success, which is in realistic terms the only possible format for determining continental championships. Otherwise the bizarre spectre appears of Spain`s Real Madrid as champions of China and Australia, or of Italy`s Juventus as champions of Australia, which was the result of the Intercontinental Champions Cup (ICC) format in which clubs competed for the championship of North America and Europe, China, and Australia.

 Manchester United won the ICC in 2013-14 against Liverpool, 3-1, but in 2014-15, and 2015-16, the championships of China and Australia were included in the ICC format, and Spain`s Real Madrid won both, while Italy`s Juventus won the Australian ICC championship in 2015-16. In a league format in which Spain`s Atlético Madrid played one and won one against England`s Tottenham Hotspur, who went on to lose a second game to Juvntus, while Atlético had used up their allotted quota of a single game, Juventus in their second game played against Melbourne Victory of Australia, who were also allowed only one game in the league table, and Juventus won, 4-3 on penalties, after a 1-1 draw in normal time. In short, Juventus had two games in which to win the Australian championship, and the Australian team had just one, so couldn`t compete. When Spain`s Real Madrid won the China ICC in 2014-15 against England`s Manchester City and Roma of Italy, there weren`t any teams from China, and Real Madrid were also allowed to compete in the Australian ICC in 2014-15 against Italy`s Inter and A.C. Milan, which Madrid won, so becoming champions of China and Australia in the absence of those countries` national champions.

 The World Club Cup affords the possibility of genuine competition, before what effectively remains the de facto Intercontinental Cup (IC) encounter between the champions of South America, by virtue of that team`s winning the Copa Libertadores, for example, Ecuador`s LDU Quito in 2008, and the champions of Europe, that is, Manchester United, who though having to take part in the apparently staged formality of a 2008 semi-final against the Japanese champions of Asia, nevertheless had still to defeat Gamba Osaka, 5-3, to qualify for the final against LDU Quito, who had to similarly overcome Mexico`s Pachuca, champions of North and Central America and the Caribbean, 2-0, to qualify. However, the abolishing of the ECWC format for establishing cup competitions, as the `yardstick` for determining continental champions, and the abolition of the IC of South America and Europe, as a contest between the teams that qualify for the game to determine the champions of South America and Europe, and after their club sides have won their repsective continental cup competitions, is a deliberate handicapping of the instrument that defines champions. This has resulted in the bizarre scenario of a Spanish team, Real Madrid, effectively being declared champions of China and Australia without visibly qualifying, and in the absence of a Chinese or Australian national team taking part in the competition. Moreover, an Italian team, Juventus, was effectively awarded the championship of Australia by allowing the Italians one game more than Australia`s Melbourne Victory, who therefore weren`t afforded the possibility of making a comeback.

 By favoring a league format in Europe for all of the remaining European trophies, that is, the UCL Champions`s trophy, and the Europa competition, UEFA and FIFA, who abolished the ECWC and IC, left the way open for world leagues to emerge without legitimate competitive merit. The IC format was cogently based on the cup format, which began with the F.A. Cup in England in 1871-2, and developed throughout Europe in the form of the Cup Winners Cup (ECWC) tournament, wherein teams competed for their national cups, before participating in the wider European contest to determine the winners of an inter-nations` cup. Although there wasn`t an intercontinental version of the cup winners cup, the format remained in the form of the Intercontinental Cup Final between the South American champions, that is, the winners of the Copa Libertadores, which is the inter-nations` cup of South America, and the European champions, who are winners of the inter-nations` cup of Europe. In abolishing the ECWC, UEFA removed the cornerstone of a future world league based on intercontinental cup qualification, which is less time consuming, and more legitimizing, than a league system.

 In abolishing the IC, FIFA removed the possibility of basing the world club championship on a simpler series of intercontinental cup qualifiers. Manchester United hold the record for successes in the F.A. Cup (12), so from the club`s point of view abolition of the ECWC in 1999, after the club`s first and only success in 1991, was compounded by the abolition of the Intercontinental Cup in 2004, after United`s first and only success in 1999. In short, the removal of the ECWC was an attack on the F.A. Cup as the basis for English teams` success in international club cup competitions, and the IC was another cornerstone of that success. By establishing a system of non-qualifiers, and introducing continental championships as invitational, for example, the ICC of North America and Europe, and of China, and Australia, Europe`s teams could dominate global international competitions without having to qualify by winning, which seems to be the ultimate objective, for example, United won the European Cup in 1999, without winning the English league, but by qualifying as runner-up, which would never have occured in the 60s, when the club won its first European Cup in 1968 against Portugal`s Benfica, 4-1, with goals from Charlton (2), Kidd, and Best, after winning the 1966-67 league title: its seventh.

 In 1968 the club lost to South America`s winners of the Copa Libertadores, and so South America`s champions, Estudiantes of Argentia, in the Intercontinental Cup Final of 1968, 1-2, on aggregate, that is, 0-1 away in Buenos Aires, and after a 1-1 draw at United`s Old Trafford stadium, Manchester, despite a last gasp effort and an 89th minute goal by Scots` right wing, Willie Morgan. Though beaten, United participated in a legitimately formatted tournament, whereas in 1999 their defeat of Palmeiras of Brazil, 1-0, in the Intercontinental Cup Final, was founded on qualification for the European Cup as runner-up in the English championship. Consequently, although United won, 2-1, against Bayern in the 1999 Final, their subsequent qualification for the IC Final wasn`t exactly legitimate. Although United qualified for the European Cup of 2007-08 as champions, and won, 6-5 on penalties, after the game had ended in a 1-1 draw after extra time, the IC was abolished and the World Club Cup Finals` legitimacy was based on instant qualification for the semis for the champions of South America and Europe, which again wasn`t strictly legitimate.

 Qualification, based on a league system, hasn`t conferred legitimacy upon competitors, whereas cup competition is irrefutably legitimizing, that is, the winners compete against each other to win by means of the defining instrument, which is the cup undeniably won by teams competing directly against each other in a series of instantly recognizable qualifying contests, which have that irrefutable legitimizing authority absent from the ICC league tables, for example, which allowed Juventus to be declared champions of Australia while denying to Melbourne Victory the courtesy of allowing the Australian champions (1) to play the same number (2) of games as the Italians. UEFA`s abolition of the ECWC and FIFA`s abolition of the IC was a double blow to Manchester United, a club which had but recently begun to win those competitions, that is, the ECWC in 1991, which had been founded in 1960 and was aborted in 1999 by UEFA, and the IC in 1999, which had been founded in 1960 and was aborted by FIFA in 2004. Although the World Club Cup was attained in 2008, United`s achievement was tarnished, and the legitimate path to success was replaced with a sham. Despite that, Manchester United won the championship of South America and Europe in 1999, and the World Club Cup in 2008, before winning the championship of North American and Europe in 2014. If world football`s governing bodies can`t legitimize international club competition, Manchester United are the club for that.

29/10/2016 11:32

Malcolm Glazer: A Significant Achiever

When Malcolm Glazer of Rochester, New York state, USA, bought Manchester United in 2005, it made of the `red devils` at the `Theater Of Dreams`, Manchester`s Old Trafford stadium, `team United States` in England and Europe. Manchester United`s relations with the continent of America didn`t begin until after their European Cup win of 1968. The story is long and arduous. In the early years of the European Champions` Cup, the winner of the English league gained entry into the competition and, if they won, they`d be afforded the opportunity to play in the Intercontinental Cup against the Champions of South America, winners of the American continent`s equivalent of the European Cup, the Copa Libertadores, or `cup of freedom`, which the giant clubs of South America in Brazil and Argentina competed for against the other countries of the region before gearing up for the Intercontinental Cup Final contest with the Champions of Europe. The inaugural winners of the competition were Spain`s Real Madrid, 5-1, at their Estadio Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid against Uruguay`s Peñarol after a draw at the Uruguayans` Estadio Centenario, Montevideo, 0-0. An unsurprising result to the Europeans, because Real Madrid had won the inaugural European Champions` Cup competition in 1956 against France`s Stade De Reims, 4-3, and thereafter in 1957 versus Fiorentina of Italy, 2-0; 1958, versus A. C. Milan of Italy, 3-2; 1959 versus Stade De Reims, 2-0, and 1960 versus Germany`s Eintracht Frankfurt, 7-3. The heart of the team was comprised of foreign talent, for example, French playmaker Raymond Kopa, Uruguayan center back, José Santamaría, Argentine `keeper, Rogelio Domínguez, and striker, Ferenc Puskas of Hungary, whose national side had astonished the soccer world by beating England at home at Wembley for the first time ever, 3-5, in 1953. Although Manchester United perhaps could have beaten the Spanish giants in 1958, or afterwards, the Munich air disaster in which eight of the players, who had just qualified for the 1958 semi-final by drawing 3-3 in Belgrade against Red Star, died in the snow as the plane carrying the team back to Manchester crashed on the German runway during take off. Those who lost their lives would have been the heart of the England side that, along with United`s surviving left wing, Bobby Charlton, eventually won the World Cup at the national stadium, Wembley, London, in 1966, with goals from West Ham United forward, Geoff Hurst (3) and Hammers` left midfielder, Martin Peters, 4-2, against Germany.

 England, managed by former Ipswich boss, Alf Ramsey and captained by West Ham United`s center half, Bobby Moore, went behind in the 12th minute when left full back, Ray Wilson, misheaded to right winger, Helmut Haller, who scored, 1-0, despite center half, Leeds United`s Jack Charlton, and Leicester `keeper Gordon Banks` efforts to keep the ball out. In the 19th minute, central midfielder, Wolfgang Overath, conceded a free kick, which Moore took. He floated a cross into the German area, where Geoff Hurst rose unchallenged and levelled the scores with a downward glancing header. After half-time, Germany conceded a corner in the 77th minute. Everton`s right sided midfielder, Alan Ball, found West Ham`s center forward, Geoff Hurst, whose deflected shot from the edge of the area rebounded to the Hammer`s left midfielder, Martin Peters, who beat `keeper, Hans Tikowski, from eight yards, 2-1. In the 89th minute Jack Charlton conceded a free kick for climbing on German captain and center forward, Uwe Seeler, as they both went up for a header. The kick was taken by left wing, Lothar Emmerich, and the ball struck right full back, George Cohen, in the England wall. The rebound fell to striker, Siegfried Held, whose shot across the face of goal struck left back, Karl-Heinz Schnellinger. The ball deflected across England`s six-yard box, wrong-footing the defense, and center back, Wolfgang Weber, leveled the score, 2–2. In the 11th minute of extra time Alan Ball crossed for Geoff Hurst to swivel and shoot from close range. The ball hit the underside of the cross bar, bounced down, and was cleared. Tofiq Bahramov, the linesman from Azerbaijan, indicated that the ball had crossed the line when asked by Swiss referee, Gottfried Dienst, 3-2. With a minute left, Germany sent their defenders forward in a desperate attempt to score. England`s center half and captain, Bobby Moore, picked out the unmarked Geoff Hurst with a long pass, which Hurst swept forward before unleashed a blistering unstoppable shot, 4-2.

 Although England`s Manchester United contingent, half-back Nobby Stiles, and deep lying center forward, Bobby Charlton, celebrated, if it hadn`t been for the Munich air disaster, England might`ve won the World Cup earlier in 1958 or 1962. The players who died at Munich were England`s left back and captain, Roger Byrne, and his understudy, Geoff Bent; center half Mark Jones; midfielder Eddie Colman; the play anywhere genius, Duncan Edwards; center forward Tommy Taylor; left winger, David Pegg, and Irish forward, Liam Whelan. England`s right wing, Johnny Berry, and inside forward and sometimes center half, Danny Blanchflower, brother of Ireland`s Jackie, who`d win the English F.A. Cup and League Championship with Spurs in 1961, never played again because of their injuries. England`s story was similar to United`s, who went on to lose the semi-final of the European Cup in 1958 to Italy`s A.C. Milan, 0-4, at the San Siro stadium, after managing to win, 2-1, at their Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, with an 80th minute penalty from Ernie Taylor brought by manager, Matt Busby, from Aston Villa as a quick replacement for lost stars. Two years after England`s World Cup win, Manchester United won the European Cup against Portuguese club, Benfica, 4-1, after extra time when the game had ended 1-1. Bobby Charlton, now playing in a deep lying center forward role, as he had for England in the World Cup in 1966, had scored in the 53rd minute with a rare header, but that had been cancelled out by Benfica`s right half, Jamie Graça, in the 79th minute. A dribbler`s 92nd minute dream goal from Irish superstar, George Best, made it 2-1, and another from England`s 18 year old Brian Kidd in the 94th minute, whose header had been headed back to him by a Benfica defender, but he`d remained calm enough to head it again, and in over the Portuguese defense under the bar it went, 3-1, before a 99th minute lobbed volley from a narrow angle by Charlton secured the 1968 European Champions` Cup for an English team for the first time. In the Intercontinental Cup Final of 1968, which took place later that year, Manchester United lost to Estudiantes of Argentina, 0-1, away, and on aggregate overall, 2-1, after being only able to manage a draw at Old Trafford thanks to a late 90th minute goal from Scots` winger, Willie Morgan, bought that season to replace John Connelly, who`d arrived from Burnley himself. Morgan, who in 1974-75 would captain United out of the second tier of English soccer, whence they`d been relegated in 1973-74, had been seen at Turf Moor as a more than adequate replacement for England`s Connelly, where the team performed as well with Morgan, if not better, than it had with Connelly, who won the league title with Manchester United in 1966-67.

 Because Manchester United had to win the English title to enter the European Cup competition, the format was seen as winning the European Cup after winning the league, whereas the later application form that had to be completed was of a qualifying position in the English league to gain entrance to the European Cup competition and, by winning it, qualify to compete in the Intercontinental Cup Final against the winners of the South American Copa Libertadores. Consequently, the application form shifted the format from winning the English league to winning the Intercontinental Cup, which was the true importance attached to the winning of the European Cup, that is, the chance to win the Intercontinental Cup. That had always been seen as the goal by the South American teams because their format was international competition, so the Intercontinental Cup was the zenith, whereas the English teams were conditioned to believe it was a formal friendly without any competition merit. In short, English clubs were encouraged not to compete on the world`s stage, because the clubs would become bigger than the country. Although Manchester United had completed the given format of winning the English league and then the European Cup, the Intercontinental Cup Final against the champions of South America, Estudiantes, by virtue of that continent`s competing in the Copa Libertadores, wasn`t perceived by the English as a part of the format needing to be completed. The Intercontinental Cup was perceived by the English press, and indeed advertised so, as a matter of form, that is, it wasn`t a part of a competition format whereby the winners of the English league had, as their ultimate objective, being crowned as intercontinental champions. It wasn`t until the format of qualification for the European Cup changed from being winners of the league to winners and runners-up that the Intercontinental Cup loomed larger as a part of the format of a much greater soccer vision.

 Manchester United again won the European Cup in Spain at Barcelona`s Nou Camp stadium in 1999, with two very late goals from England`s Teddy Sheringham and Norway`s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, 2-1, against Bayern Munich. The German team had led since the 6th minute through a low free kick from forward, Mario Basler, which was awarded after United center back, Ronny Johnsen, brought down Carsten Jancker. With his right foot Basler bent the ball around the United wall from just outside the penalty area, and into the net beyond Danish `keeper Peter Schmeichel. The Germans had led until United`s despair ended in a late attacking flourish of the never say die footballing style for which they are justifiably famed. United had a corner, and with little time left `keeper Schmeichel, who`d scored in similar circumstances, ventured up to Bayern's penalty area. Beckham flighted the corner in just over Schmeichel's head, and center forward, Dwight Yorke, 18 goals in the league that season, put the ball back towards the crowded area. Bayern substitute midfielder, Thorsten Fink, had been brought on by Bayern manager, Ottmar Hitzfeld, who`d receive much criticism for it, because Fink replaced sweeper Lothar Matthäus, 37 years of age, and Hitzfeld clearly felt he was a tired risk by the 80th minute, but Fink failed to clear a ball that probably wouldn`t ever have troubled Matthäus, and the ball arrived at the feet of Ryan Giggs, whose shot fortuitously found Sheringham, who latched onto it gleefully to swipe it into the bottom corner of the net with his right boot in the 91st minute. Neither Sheringham nor Solskjaer were chosen to start against Bayern, and as Sheringham was on for left winger, Jesper Blomqvist, in the 67th minute, Solskjaer, who`d scored 12 league goals that season, replaced center forward, Andy Cole (17), in the 81st minute almost immediately after Lothar Matthäus left the fray.

 Sheringham had scored only twice in the league in 1998-99, but had redeemed himself by scoring with a low drive under Newcastle `keeper, Steve Harper, after a through ball from Scholes, in the F.A. Cup Final, which United won, 2-0, and so Sheringham had been picked to be amongst the substitutes. Within 30 seconds of the restart after Sheringham`s substitute`s strike, another Beckham corner found his head, and he nodded the ball down across the face of goal to where Solskjær, reacting quickly, stuck out his boot and poked the ball into the roof of the Bayern net in the 93rd minute. Matthäus` departure had ultimately sunk Bayern, and Hitzfelt was blamed, but United`s never say die attitude had won through for them again and the European Cup was theirs for only the second time in the club`s history since Benfica were beaten, 4-1, at London`s Wembley stadium in 1968. Despite winning the 1999 European Cup, the team had qualified for the competition without winning the league, and so the 1999 Intercontinental Cup Final against Palmeiras of Brazil, which United won, 1-0, on neutral ground at the National Stadium, Tokyo, with a goal from Irish midfield dynamo and captain, Roy Keane, who appeared at the far post to steer in a left wing cross from Welsh winger, Ryan Giggs in the 35th minute, loomed on the club`s horizon as a part of the format of the competition that had been taken on by the club in competing for the European Cup.

 In the United States of America; for example, in Major League Soccer (MLS), where United`s pioneering Irish wing legend, George Best, saw out much of his playing career after leaving United in their relegation season, 1973-74, saying he wouldn`t play in any division other than England`s premier, growth is perceived as intrinsically linked to relocation. In 2006 the Earthquakes moved to Houston, Texas, to become the Houston Dynamo, because of greater financial opportunities. Although the USA is a single nation, and the Houston Dynamo still played in the Western Conference, despite being a state other than California, where the Earthquakes originally hailed from, relocating to Texas seemed necessary to growth. Best played for California`s San Jose Earthquakes in 1979-80, and was second highest goalscorer with 8 after Steve David`s 14. In 1980-1 George was the top scorer with 13 for the Earthquakes, who finished a creditable fourth in the Western Conference of the North American Soccer League in each of those successive seasons he played there. By 1982-83 the US` experiment with soccer had produced the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL), but although George scored 32 goals overall during his MISL career with the Earthquakes, their highest place in the Western Conference was third during his sojourning there. Best was followed to the US by, amongst others, Manchester United and England captain, right winger, David Beckham who, like many United players of the past, had also agreed to relocate and help the growth of the MLS when, after winning the European Cup with Manchester United in 1999, he went on to win the Spanish title in 2006-07 with Real Madrid, and then the MLS Cup with California`s Western Conference team, the Los Angeles Galaxy, in consecutive seasons; 2011 and 2012. As a consequence, the North American and Europe Intercontinental Champions Cup was to become a significant prize in world football terms.

  Manchester United won the European Cup again in 2008 at the Luzhniki stadium, Moscow, against English rivals, Chelsea, on penalties, 6-5, after extra time, when the final score had been 1-1 in normal time through a 26th minute headed goal from Manchester United`s Portuguese right winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, from a right wing cross from right full back Wes Brown`s left foot, which was equalized by a typical surging 45th minute midfield run and strike from Chelsea`s Frank Lampard. After their success in the European Cup the club were invited to take part in the World Club Championship. In the 28th minute of the semi-final victory against Japanese side, Gamba Osaka, United`s Serbian central defender, Nemanja Vidić, from a Ryan Giggs’ corner, out-jumped Gamba captain, Satoshi Yamaguchi, to power home a header past `keeper, Yosuke Fujigaya, from 12 yards, 1-0. Portuguese right winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, put United 2-0 up in first-half injury time. Again the ball came from a Giggs` corner, and again the Japanese struggled to cope with the aerial threat. Myojin was out-jumped as Ronaldo directed a powerful header past `keeper, Fujigay. United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, didn`t bring on his star striker, England`s Wayne Rooney, until the 74th minute, but Gamba Osaka immediately pulled the score back to 2-1, courtesy of striker, Masato Yamakazi, with a shot from the right well outside the penalty area. A minute later, however, Rooney finished well, after a long ball from Scots` central midfielder, Darren Fletcher, split open the Japanese defence, 3-1. Fletcher then headed in French left back Patrice Evra`s cross, 4-1. In the 78th minute, and after linking up well with left-winger, Giggs, Rooney made it 5-1 a minute later. United conceded a penalty, 2-5, when United`s England right back, Gary Neville, was adjudged to have handled a cross from the left wing, and in the 85th minute Yasuhito Endō calmly scored from the spot, 2-5. Hideo Hashimoto scored in second half injury time in a way almost identical to Yamakazi`s first half effort, 1-2. From the right and well outside the penalty area, Hashimoto struck the ball past Dutch `keeper, Edwin Van Der Sar, 3-5, but United were through to the World Club Cup Final against LDU Quito of Ecuador.

 In the Final in the International Stadium Yokohama, Japan, a single goal against the winners of the Copa Libertadores, South America`s Champions of Ecuador, LDU Quito, scored by England`s center forward, Wayne Rooney, won the game for Manchester United, 1-0. Remaining where he was at the left corner of the LDU Quito area, Wayne played the ball back to left sided Brazilian midfielder, Anderson. He then waited while Anderson played the ball into the path of England right central midfielder, Michael Carrick, in front of the LDU Quito area. Carrick pushed the ball forward to Manchester United right winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, inside the LDU Quito area with two players in attendance. With his back to the goal, Cristiano Ronaldo turned to his right and slipped the ball to Wayne, who was still waiting at the left edge of the LDU Quito area where he`d begun the play. Rooney drove a shot low and right footed into the right corner of the LDU Quito net. Rooney had been lurking on the edge of the Ecuadorians` area after Serbian center back, Nemanja Vidić, had been sent off in the 49th, so causing the Manchester United front players to look for maximum impact, rather than mobility, which those behind them needed to employ to cover for their absent defensive colleague. Rooney`s 73rd minute goal had given the tiring defense a cushion useful enough to frustrate the South Americans and give the English team the World Club Championship.

 Although the club qualified for the European Cup in 2008 as winners of the English league title and were champions again in 2007-08 after which the World Club Championship was played between Manchester United as European Cup winners against Chelsea, 6-5 on penalties after a 1-1 draw, the format had at last been recognized. It wasn`t that the aim was to win the English league in order to win the European Cup, it was to win the World Club Cup by qualifying for the Final by winning the European Cup. Although United qualified for the European Cup by winning the English league, and then winning the European Cup to give them a chance of winning the World Club Cup, it wasn`t necessary to win the English league to qualify for the European Cup, because the aim was to succeed in the new format in which the winners of the European Cup qualified for the World Club Cup Finals, which were the goal of the biggest clubs that had been unrecognized as South America`s, where the approach to soccer as an international league differs profoundly from England`s parachial approach to club football. The United States provides a model of how England`s Football Association could mature, whereas it restricts clubs from becoming financially more successful in global terms; for example, by devaluing the Intercontinental Cup, clubs are kept from moving away from Europe in order to be more successful. Ignoring prejudice against spreading their wings to become a greater world force, and although Malcolm Glazer sadly passed away in May, 2014, Manchester United won the 2014 North America and Europe International Champions` Cup in the Sun Life Stadium, Miami, although Liverpool were 1-0 after an early 14th minute penalty from Liverpool`s captain, Steven Gerard, which was awarded for a trip on Raheem Sterling by United defender, Phil  Jones. After an equalizing goal from England`s center forward, Wayne Rooney, meeting Mexican striker Javier Hernandez’s arrowing cross in the 55th minute with a neat left-foot volley, two minutes later came a goal from Spain`s inside right, Juan Mata, whose shot was deflected off Mamadou Sakho in the 57th minute, 2-1. A third followed in the 88th minute from England left winger, Jessie Lingard, who`d come on as a substitute after the second United goal. Controlling a cross from England`s Ashley Young, who`d begun on the left, but had moved over to the right wing after injury to Antonio Valenica. Lingard half-volleyed low from the edge of the box beyond Liverpool `keeper, Mignolet. Although United celebrated with the trophy, it was a further instance of an international competition that didn`t receive national recognition at home in England, but Manchester United had transcended parochialism at home to be European Champions (1968, 1999, 2008); champions of South America and Europe (1999), champions of North America and Europe (2014), and World Club champions (2008): a significant achievement.

02/10/2016 23:54

United Abolished?

Manchester United were the winners of the European Cup Winners` Cup in 1991 after winning the F.A. Cup at England`s national Wembley stadium, London, in the second attempt after the Final ended in a 3-3 draw with Crystal Palace and a replay was required. Then left back, Lee Martin, ran the length of the pitch on a speculative run that led to his being sought out by a long ball from England midfielder, Neil Webb, which fell into Lee Martin`s stride in the 59th minute and he crashed the ball delightedly into the roof of the net, 1-0. Scot Alex Ferguson`s team had benefited from the return of Mark Hughes from Spanish giant, F. C. Barcelona, where he`d been transferred by former Manchester United manager, Ron Atkinson, for £2 million before the start of the 1986-87 season; despite being United top scorer for the previous two seasons with 16 goals in 1984-85 and 17 in 1985-86. Atkinson was sacked largely because of his inscrutable transferring of Hughes, and Aberdeen manager, Alex Ferguson, arrived after winning the European Cup Winners` Cup with Aberdeen in 1983 against Real Madrid, 2-1, to pay Barcelona £1. 8 million to restore Hughes to the team for the 1988-89 season in which he scored 14 goals and never dipped below double figures for a season until his last with United, 1994-95, when he scored 8 goals as the club finished second in the league to new monied Blackburn Rovers and lost the F.A. Cup Final, 0-1, to Everton.

 In the 1990 F.A. Cup Final Crystal Palace had taken the lead in the 18th minute at a free kick when center back, Gary O` Reilly, headed home. United equalized in the 35th minute after Brian McClair ran down the right wing and sent over a cross to the far post where England captain, Bryan Robson, headed on and into the net. Hughes had given United a 2-1 lead in the 62nd minute forcing home a cross-shot from England right midfielder, Neil Webb, before a mazy run past two United defenders resulted in a successful strike on goal from Palace substitute forward, Ian Wright, who`d come on in the 69th minute, and scored in the 72nd minute of normal time. There followed another strike from Wright who volleyed home a floated cross to the back post by right winger, John Salako, in the 92nd minute of extra time. At 3-2 to Palace Mark Hughes then scored again in the 113th minute after he chased a through ball from United winger, Danny Wallace, and slotted it home past Palace `keeper, Nigel Martyn, which set the stage for Lee Martin`s dramatic 59th minute winner in the replay, 1-0, and United had qualified for the 1991 European Cup Winners` Cup competition that Alex Ferguson had won with Aberdeen in 1983.

 Manchester United`s route to the Final in the Netherlands` Fejenoord Stadion, Rotterdam, against F. C. Barcelona, Welshman Mark Hughes` former club, passed without a hitch in the first and second rounds, with a 3-0 aggregate win against Pécs of Hungary and a 5-0 aggregate win against Wrexham of Wales. France`s Montpellier proved more difficult, and United had to overcome the disappointment of a Brian McClair 1st minute strike cancelled out by a Lee Martin own goal in the 8th minute to give the French a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.  Following a run down the left wing by Lee Sharpe who, at the goal line, cut the ball back into the penalty area, center forward, McClair, slid in to finish the move with a right foot shot to the left of the French `keeper. Then followed the bizarre own goal by Lee Martin in the 8th minute, who with his right boot side footed a low cross from Polish left wing, Jacek Ziober, into the United net past amazed `keeper, Les Sealey. United then had to win away, which they did, 2-0, after a goal on half-time from emergency left back replacement, midfielder Clayton Blackmore, whose right footed long range kick was inexplicably pushed into his own net as it bounced in front of the Montpellier `keeper, Barrabé, and soon after that a 48th minute Steve Bruce penalty put the contest beyond the French, when Blackmore collapsed some distance outside the penalty area clutching his chin, after a tackle by a defender out near the right edge of the `keeper`s area. Legia Warsaw of Poland proved equally difficult at Old Trafford, 1-1. Despite a spectacular opening goal from left winger, Lee Sharpe, who crashed a shot from the corner of the goal area into the top left corner of the `keeper`s net in the 28th minute, in the 57th minute a long ball from inside his own half was chested down by Kowalczyk with United center back, Gary Pallister, only able to keep pace with him as he ran at goal and put the ball through `keeper Les Sealey`s legs as he came out of his penalty area to close the Polish striker down, but the team had already proved hardier than their Polish opponents with a 3-1 win in Warsaw.

 The Polish team had taken the lead through Cyzio who, receiving a pass from wide on the right in the 37th minute, took it on towards the United goal where, keeping the ball on his right side during his run, he drove a right footed shot low and to the right of United`s `keeper, Les Sealey, and into the net. United equalized almost immediately in the 38th minute when left back, Lee Martin, crossed into the penalty area to where `keeper, Robakiewicz, seemed to have the ball in his grasp close to the turf, but he failed to make it safe, and the ball bobbled out to where Bryan Robson aimed to strike it at goal. Brian McClair, standing almost on the goal line, forced it in. A second came in the 54th minute when Mark Hughes, cutting in from the right made a feint as if to strike the ball at goal, and then took it further before unleashing a right foot shot that hit the inside of the left post low down and bounced off and into the net. United made it 3-1 in the 67th minute after a right footed chip from Hughes on the right was headed inside the penalty area by McClair and the ball fell in front of center half, Steve Bruce, who carefully made sure that the ball traveled safely into the goal off his right boot. In the Final Hughes scored in the 67th minute after a Bryan Robson free kick was headed into the goal by center back Steve Bruce although Hughes was adjudged to have been the player to score after forcing it into the net to make sure it crossed the line. Hughes scored again from an acute angle on 74th minutes before Barca`s defensive Netherlands` midfielder, Ronald Koeman, struck with a free kick in the 79th minute to give United a nervous last 10 minutes before celebrating. The Cup Winners` Cup was competed for on only a further three occasions before Manchester United`s success in winning it was abolished along with the trophy itself in 1999 by UEFA.

 That year a similar fate overtook the Intercontinental Cup, which Manchester United finally won at the second attempt. In United`s first attempt after qualifying by winning the 1968 European Cup, 4-1, against Portugal`s Benfica, the Argentine team Estudiantes, `the students`, who`d qualified for the Final of the Intercontinental Cup by winning the Championship of South America, the Copa Libertadores, or `cup of freedom`, beat United in the away leg in Buenos Aires, 1-0, with a 27th minute headed goal from Marcus Conigliaro after a corner sent over by his striking partner, Filipe Ribaudo. The Argentinians drew 1-1 at Old Trafford, Manchester, after right winger, Juan Ramón Verón, La Bruja, `the witch`, had tormented United by scoring the opening headed goal at Old Trafford in the 6th minute after a free-kick from defender, Raúl Madero, which had left United too much to do, 0-1, and despite a late 90th minute strike from Scots` right winger, Willie Morgan, Estudiantes took the trophy, 2-1, on aggregate. In 1999 the story was different. United qualified as winners of the European Cup, 2-1, after two very late strikes by Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer against Bayern Munich at Spain`s Barcelona Nou Camp stadium. The German team had led since the 6th minute through a low free kick from forward, Mario Basler, which was awarded after United center back, Ronny Johnsen, brought down Carsten Jancker. With his right foot Basler bent the ball around the United wall from just outside the penalty area, and into the net beyond Danish `keeper Peter Schmeichel. United`s despair ended in a late attacking flourish of the never say die footballing style for which they are justifiably famed. United had a corner, and with little time left `keeper Schmeichel, who`d scored in similar circumstances, ventured up to Bayern's penalty area. Beckham flighted the corner in just over Schmeichel's head, and center forward, Dwight Yorke, 18 goals in the league that season, put the ball back towards the crowded area. Bayern substitute midfielder, Thorsten Fink, had been brought on by Bayern manager, Ottmar Hitzfeld, who`d receive much criticism for it, because Fink replaced sweeper Lothar Matthäus, 37 years of age, and Hitzfeld clearly felt he was a tired risk by the 80th minute, but Fink failed to clear a ball that probably wouldn`t ever have troubled Matthäus, and the ball arrived at the feet of Ryan Giggs, whose shot fortuitously found Sheringham, who latched onto it gleefully to swipe it into the bottom corner of the net with his right boot in the 91st minute. Neither Sheringham nor Solskjaer were chosen to start against Bayern, and as Sheringham was on for left winger, Jesper Blomqvist, in the 67th minute, Solskjaer, who`d scored 12 league goals that season, replaced center forward, Andy Cole (17), in the 81st minute almost immediately after Lothar Matthäus left the fray.

 Sheringham had scored only twice in the league, but had redeemed himself by scoring with a low drive under Newcastle `keeper Steve Harper after a through ball from Scholes, in the F.A. Cup Final, which United won, 2-0, and so Sheringham had been picked to be amongst the substitutes. Within 30 seconds of the restart after Sheringham`s substitute`s strike, another Beckham corner found the head of Sheringham, who nodded the ball down across the face of goal to where Solskjær, reacting quickly, stuck out his boot and poked the ball into the roof of the Bayern net in the 93rd minute. Matthäus` departure had ultimately sunk Bayern, and Hitzfelt was blamed, but United`s never say die attitude had won through for them again and the European Cup was theirs for only the second time in the club`s history since Benfica were beaten, 4-1, at London`s Wembley stadium in 1968.  United lost the subsequent Intercontinental Cup Final, 1-2, to Estudiantes of Argentina that year, but in 1999 the club faced Brazil`s Palmeiras and won, 1-0, with a goal from indefatigable midfield creator-destroyer Roy Keane, who forced the ball in at the far post from a left wing cross by Welsh winger, Ryan Giggs, in the 35th minute. FIFA almost immediately abolished the competition, so abolishing United`s victory, by inaugurating the World Club Cup, in which the club were invited to compete in 2000.

 Although the World Club Cup was competed for in 2000 and won by Corinthians of Brazil against Brazil`s Vasco De Gama on penalties, 4-3, after a 0-0 draw and extra time, it wasn`t competed for again until 2005, and so the Intercontinental Cup was allowed to continue until 2005. After 2005 the Intercontinental Cup was abolished, so abolishing United`s achievement in winning the trophy in 1999. Declaring Brazil`s Corinthians World Club Cup winners in 2000, FIFA effectively then abolished the World Club Cup until 2005, so leaving Brazil`s Corinthians undisputed champions of the world after Manchester United had become Champions of South America and Europe by winning the 1999 Intercontinental Cup Final, 1-0, against Brazil`s Palmeiras to become `unofficial` World Club champions. United`s victory so upset the prestige of Spanish colonial soccer in South America that FIFA had to abolish the Intercontinental Cup and make Brazil`s Corinthians indisputable World Club champions by abolishing the World Club Cup after Brazil`s Corinthians won it in 2000. Or, in other words, having established the World Club Cup, FIFA endeavored to allow Brazil`s Corinthians to remain unopposed forever after they`d won it, lest Manchester United, `unofficial` World Club champions of 1999, became able to try to wrest it away from the South Americans.

 When Manchester United qualified for the 2008 World Club Cup semi-final against Japanese team, Gamba Osaka, and won 5-3, it was through beating English side, Chelsea in the European Cup Final at the Luzhniki stadium, Moscow, 6-5 on penalties after a 26th minute headed goal by United`s Portuguese right winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, from a left footed cross out on the right wing by right back, Wes Brown, was cancelled out in the 45th minute by a strike from Chelsea`s Frank Lampard after a trademark surging run from midfield. In the 28th minute, Serbian central defender, Nemanja Vidić, from Ryan Giggs’ corner out-jumped Gamba captain, Satoshi Yamaguchi, to power home a header past `keeper, Yosuke Fujigaya, from 12 yards, 1-0. Portuguese right winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, put United 2-0 up in first-half injury time. Again the ball came from a Giggs` corner, and again the Japanese struggled to cope with the aerial threat. Myojin was out-jumped as Ronaldo directed a powerful header past `keeper, Fujigay. United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, didn`t bring on his star striker, England`s Wayne Rooney, until the 74th minute, but Gamba Osaka immediately pulled the score back to 2-1, courtesy of striker, Masato Yamakazi, with a shot from the right well outside the penalty area. A minute later, however, Rooney finished well, after a long ball from Scots` central midfielder, Darren Fletcher, split open the Japanese defence, 3-1. Fletcher then headed in French left back Patrice Evra`s cross, 4-1. In the 78th minute, and after linking up well with left-winger, Giggs, Rooney made it 5-1 a minute later. United conceded a penalty, 2-5, when United`s England right back, Gary Neville, was adjudged to have handled a cross from the left wing, and in the 85th minute Yasuhito Endō calmly scored from the spot, 2-5. Hideo Hashimoto scored in second half injury time in a way almost identical to Yamakazi`s first half effort, 1-2. From the right and well outside the penalty area, Hashimoto struck the ball past Dutch `keeper, Edwin Van er Sar, 3-5, but United were through to the World Club Cup Final against LDU Quito of Peru.

 In the Final at the International Stadium Yokohama, Nemanja Vidić was sent off in the 49th minute, and England`s center forward Wayne Rooney was, like the other remaining ten United players, conserving his energies to cover the ground of a teammate lost. That was the solution. Remaining where he was at the left corner of the LDU Quito area, Wayne played the ball back to left sided Brazilian midfielder, Anderson. He then waited while Anderson played the ball into the path of England right central midfielder, Michael Carrick, in front of the LDU Quito area. Carrick pushed the ball forward to Manchester United right winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, inside the LDU Quito area with two players in attendance. With his back to the goal, Cristiano Ronaldo turned to his right and slipped the ball to Wayne, who was still waiting at the left edge of the LDU Quito area where he`d begun the play. Rooney drove a shot low and right footed into the right corner of the LDU Quito net. To lurk on the edge of the box and wait for his 73rd minute opportunity to score was Rooney`s clever energy conserving strategy, and it gave the team the cushion it needed to withstand later LDU Quito pressure to win the World Club Cup for Manchester United, although the club had lost two trophies, the European Cup Winners Cup and the Intercontinental Cup, to those aborters.

02/10/2016 21:08

Learning Spanish At Manchester United

Because Real Madrid won the inaugural European Cup in 1956, and consecutively thereafter in 1957, 1958, 1959, and 1960, English clubs believed that the wresting of the European Cup from the Spanish giant was the aim of their soccer campaigning. When the Manchester United squad`s plane, which was returning from qualifying for the European Cup semi-final after a 3-3 draw against Red Star in Belgrade, crashed in the snow at Munich airport, it cost the lives of England`s left back and captain, Roger Byrne, and his understudy, Geoff Bent; center half Mark Jones; midfielder Eddie Colman; skillful goalscorer, or obdurate defender, and midfield play maker, Duncan Edwards; center forward Tommy Taylor; left winger, David Pegg, and Irish forward, Liam Whelan. England`s right wing, Johnny Berry, and inside forward, or center half, Danny Blanchflower, brother of Ireland`s Jackie, who`d win the English F.A. Cup and League Championship with Spurs in 1961, never played again because of their injuries. Although a patched up team and a penalty from Ernie Taylor bought from Aston Villa to replace the irreplaceable by manager, Matt Busby, brought a 2-1 home victory against A. C. Milan of Italy at the Old Trafford stadium, Manchester United lost, 0-4, at the San Siro stadium in Milan. The club would have to wait until 1968 before making the Final against Portugal`s Benfica. Munich survivor, Bobby Charlton, the former left winger, who by then was playing in the deep lying center forward role he`d made great when England won the World Cup in 1966 against Germany, 4-2, at Wembley, London, scored from a rare 53rd minute header, which was cancelled out in the 79th minute by Benfica`s right midfielder, Jamie Graça. Again the scene was set at the national Wembley stadium for an English team`s triumph, 4-1, with extra time goals in the 92nd minute from mercurial Irish wing genius, George Best, another headed goal in the 94th minute from 18 year old Brian Kidd, who was in the side for the injured goal `king` of Old Trafford, Denis Law, and a 9th minute lobbed volley from Charlton that went over the `keeper to wrest the trophy from the Europeans and into English hands for the first time when captain, Charlton, raised it aloft in London.

 Although it wasn`t evident to everyone, United`s rivalry with the Spanish giant, Real Madrid, had strong historical antecedents. It was the Spanish and Portuguese conquistadores that had colonized much of the world for Spain in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, and had made South America a bastion of Spain`s Imperialism.  The soccer champions of South America`s individual nations competed for the Copa Libertadores, and the winners competed for the Intercontinental Cup with the winners of the European Cup, that is, the Spanish and Portuguese teams in Europe had to be beaten before the English teams could beat South America`s colonial Spanish teams, which Manchester United finally had the opportunity to do in 1968. The Argentine winners of the `cup of freedom`, the Copa Libertadores, were Estudiantes, `the students`, who played against Manchester United in the Intercontinental Cup Final, and won, 2-1, after a 1-0 home win in Buenos Aires, and a 1-1 away draw at Old Trafford, Manchester, reasserting Spanish colonial soccer`s preeminence. Marcus Conigliaro had scored the only goal of the Buenos Aires away leg with a header in the 27th minute from a corner by his striking partner, Filipe Ribaudo and right winger, Juan Ramón Verón, La Bruja, `the witch`, had tormented United by scoring the opening headed goal at Old Trafford in the 6th minute after a free-kick from defender, Raúl Madero, which had left United too much to do, 0-1. It wasn`t until very late goals from Teddy Sheringham in the 91st and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the 93rd minute beat Bayern Munich at Spain`s Barcelona Nou Camp stadium, 2-1, that United won the European Cup again in 1999. The German team had led since the 6th minute through a low free kick from forward, Mario Basler, which was awarded after United center back, Ronny Johnsen, brought down Carsten Jancker. With his right foot Basler bent the ball around the United wall from just outside the penalty area, and into the net beyond Danish `keeper Peter Schmeichel. United`s despair ended in a late attacking flourish of the never say die footballing style for which they are justifiably famed. United had a corner, and with little time left `keeper Schmeichel, who`d scored in similar circumstances, ventured up to Bayern's penalty area. Beckham flighted the corner in just over Schmeichel's head, and center forward, Dwight Yorke, 18 goals in the league that season, put the ball back towards the crowded area. Bayern substitute midfielder, Thorsten Fink, had been brought on by Bayern manager, Ottmar Hitzfeld, who`d receive much criticism for it, because Fink replaced sweeper Lothar Matthäus, 37 years of age, and Hitzfeld clearly felt he was a tired risk by the 80th minute, but Fink failed to clear a ball that probably wouldn`t ever have troubled Matthäus, and the ball arrived at the feet of Ryan Giggs, whose shot fortuitously found Sheringham, who latched onto it gleefully to swipe it into the bottom corner of the net with his right boot. Neither Sheringham nor Solskjaer were chosen to start against Bayern, and as Sheringham was on for left winger, Jesper Blomqvist, in the 67th minute, Solskjaer, who`d scored 12 league goals that season, replaced center forward, Andy Cole (17), in the 81st minute almost immediately after Lothar Matthäus left the fray.

 Sheringham had scored only twice in the league, but had redeemed himself by scoring with a low drive under Newcastle `keeper Steve Harper after a through ball from Scholes, in the F.A. Cup Final, which United won, 2-0, and so Sheringham had been picked to be amongst the substitutes. Within 30 seconds of the restart after Sheringham`s substitute`s strike, another Beckham corner found the head of Sheringham, who nodded the ball down across the face of goal to where Solskjær, reacting quickly, stuck out his boot and poked the ball into the roof of the Bayern net. Matthäus` departure had ultimately sunk Bayern, and Hitzfelt was blamed, but United`s never say die attitude had won through for them again and the European Cup was theirs for only the second time in the club`s history since Benfica were beaten, 4-1, at London`s Wembley stadium in 1968.  That qualified them to play against the Brazilian winners of the Copa Libertadores in the Intercontinental Cup Final, Palmeiras, which they won on neutral ground at the National Stadium, Tokyo, 1-0, after a Ryan Giggs left wing cross found captain, Roy Keane, running inexhaustibly in from his creator-destroyer midfield role to be at the far post in the 35th minute and steer the ball into the net for Manchester United to beat the Spanish in South America and become champions.

  When Manchester United beat London side, Chelsea, in the Final of the European Cup at Moscow`s Luzhniki stadium in 2008, 6-5, on penalties after a 1-1 draw when a headed goal in the 26th minute from Portuguese right winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, from a left footed cross out on the right wing by Manchester United`s versatile center half playing right back on the night, Wes Brown, had been equalized in the 45th minute after a surging run and shoot from Chelsea midfielder, Frank Lampard, the club qualified for the semi-final of the World Club Cup, which had replaced the Intercontinental Cup Final between the champions of South American and Europe with a competition that included the winners of the Copa Libertadores amongst others of the world`s local best. In the 28th minute of the semi-final against Japan`s Gamba Osaka, United`s Serbian central defender, Nemanja Vidić, from a Ryan Giggs’ corner, out-jumped Gamba captain, Satoshi Yamaguchi, to power home a header past `keeper, Yosuke Fujigaya, from 12 yards, 1-0. Portuguese right winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, put United 2-0 up in first-half injury time. Again the ball came from a Giggs` corner, and again the Japanese struggled to cope with the aerial threat. Myojin was out-jumped as Ronaldo directed a powerful header past `keeper, Fujigay. United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, didn`t bring on his star striker, England`s Wayne Rooney, until the 74th minute, but Gamba Osaka immediately pulled the score back to 2-1, courtesy of striker, Masato Yamakazi, with a shot from the right well outside the penalty area. A minute later, however, Rooney finished well, after a long ball from Scots` central midfielder, Darren Fletcher, split open the Japanese defence, 3-1. Fletcher then headed in French left back Patrice Evra`s cross, 4-1. In the 78th minute, and after linking up well with left-winger, Giggs, Rooney made it 5-1 a minute later. United conceded a penalty, 2-5, when United`s England right back, Gary Neville, was adjudged to have handled a cross from the left wing, and in the 85th minute Yasuhito Endō calmly scored from the spot, 2-5. Hideo Hashimoto scored in second half injury time in a way almost identical to Yamakazi`s first half effort, 1-2. From the right and well outside the penalty area, Hashimoto struck the ball past Dutch `keeper, Edwin Van er Sar, 3-5, but United were through to the World Club Cup Final against LDU Quito of Ecuador.

 In the Final at the International Stadium Yokohama, Manchester United won, 1-0, even despite the sending off of Nemanja Vidić in the 49th minute, thanks to the clever strategic play of England center forward, Wayne Rooney who, along with the other remaining ten United players conserving their energies to cover the ground of a teammate lost, had rather waited on the edge of the box for an opportunity to come his way. At the left corner of the LDU Quito area, Wayne played the ball back to left sided Brazilian midfielder, Anderson. He then waited while Anderson played the ball into the path of England right central midfielder, Michael Carrick, in front of the LDU Quito area. Carrick pushed the ball forward to Manchester United right winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, inside the LDU Quito area with two players in attendance. With his back to the goal, Cristiano Ronaldo turned to his right and slipped the ball to Wayne, who was still waiting at the left edge of the LDU Quito area where he`d begun the play. Rooney drove a shot low and right footed into the right corner of the LDU Quito net. The goal in the 73rd minute gave the team the cushion it needed to withstand later LDU Quito pressure and win the World Club Cup for Manchester United, which gave the final lie to Spanish colonial soccer`s superiority.

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