Football

Manchester United: Greatest title tussles

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Can Ferguson make it title number 20 this season? (©GettyImages)
Can Ferguson make it title number 20 this season? (©GettyImages).

Manchester United face one of their greatest battles for the Premier League title this season as they go up against big spending rivals Manchester City and an on-fire Tottenham side that simply won’t go away.

 

United have stuttered of late, slipping to back to back defeats to allow City to move into a three point lead while Spurs pulled level on 45 points with their win over Everton on Wednesday.

 

Now with just three points separating the top three teams, can United call upon their wealth of experience and add to their 19 titles this season?

 

GMF is on hand to pick out some of Sir Alex Ferguson’s finest triumphs and narrowest defeats in the Premier League.

 

1994/95 – Rovers Return

 

It is a rare season when Manchester United don’t finish on top of the pile and an even rarer one when a team outside of United, Arsenal or Chelsea don’t hold the Premier League trophy aloft.

 

But that is what happened in 1995 as Kenny Dalglish guided Blackburn to their only Premier League title in the most gripping of fashions.

 

Powered by Alan Shearer, who equals Andy Cole’s goal scoring record of 34 goals in a season, and Chris Sutton, Rovers stumbled to defeat against Liverpool in their last game of the season but United couldn’t force a victory against West Ham, handing their rivals the title by just two points.

 

1995/96 – ‘I would love it if we beat them!’

 

One of the most exciting Premier League seasons on record, this time it was United’s turn to pip their rivals to the post as Newcastle imploded, resulting in one of the most famous post-match interviews of all time.

 

The Magpies had opened up a 12 point gap at the top of the table with some swashbuckling performances under Kevin Keegan, but then the trademark Fergie mind games started and Newcastle seized up, culminating in the ‘Geordie Messiah’ to launch into his now infamous interview.

 

On the final day United needed only victory against Middlesbrough while Newcastle had to beat Spurs at home and hope for a shock at the Riverside.

 

United strolled to a comfortable 3-0 victory, while Keegan's men were held at home by Spurs to end the season in frustration.

 

1997/98 – Stop Arsene about

 

With Arsene Wenger at the helm, Arsenal looked a different animal to the team moulded by George Graham over the previous nine years.

 

Playing a new brand of pass and move built upon on of the sturdiest back five defensive units in England, it was Arsenal that were able to overhaul an 11 point lead United had accumulated, largely due to the three games they held in hand over their rivals.

 

A rich vein of form for the Gunners in the final three months of the season and won from United by a point, although were confirmed winners two games from the end of the season after a 4-0 win over Everton.

 

Possibly the greatest rivalry in the Premier League era had begun.

 

1998/99 – make mine a treble

 

Spurred on by their narrow defeat the previous season, Manchester United spent heavily in the summer before the 1998/99 season, splashing around £30 million on the likes of Dwight Yorke, Jaap Stam and Jasper Blomqvist, but it was the return of an old face that spurred them on to their most successful seasons of all time.

 

With little to split the two across the season, United needed to beat Tottenham on the final day to reclaim the title, while the Gunners needed a favour from their north London rivals and a win against Aston Villa.

 

In typical United fashion they came back to claim a 2-1 win and beat their rivals to the title by just a point, leaving two trophies still to be won…

 

 

2007/08 – The not so Special One

 

After a Chelsea side had risen to the top and become capable of challenging for the title, United now faced a battle not only with the guile of Wenger and Arsenal, but the money of Roman Abrahmovich and Chelsea.

 

Having invested heavily once more over the summer they endured a slow start before homing in on the top, while the Blues were learning what life was like after Jose Mourinho after the Portuguese had suddenly left the club.

 

Come the end of the season, Arsenal had faded, leaving Avram Grant’s Chelsea still in with a chance of claiming the title.

 

Level on points with United but with an inferior goal difference, Chelsea had to beat Bolton and hope United slipped up against Wigan.

 

They didn’t, and United would then go on to further compound Chelsea’s misery in the Champions League final in Moscow.

 

Topics:
Football
Premier League
Manchester United
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