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History Shared - A Saints v Sir Alex Ferguson retrospective.

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It is not everyday that a character as important as Sir Alex Ferguson retires, his impact on Manchester United, turning them from a faded dinosaur into arguably the biggest brand in world football is astonishing. The legacy he leaves is massive and in part due to his sheer longevity as Manchester United manager means that there will be a fair amount of shared history with any club who has played in the top flight in that time.

The following list is mainly personal memories of games we have played against Sir Alex's Manchester United, there may be some that people will see as being unfairly missed but such is the nature of football that this will be unavoidable.


1. Getting Big Ron sacked. Saints 4-1 Manchester United, November 1986


And I begin, bizarely, with a game Fergie had nothing to do with. No; wait. Bare with me here... you see, arguably, Saints set the fates in motion on one night in 1986. Ron Atkinson was under massive pressure to improve the Red Devil's fortunes and a trip to the Dell in the League Cup was seen as a perfect chance to seal some silverware. A comprehensive defeat with goals from Wallace, Clarke and two from a certain precocious youngster called Matthew Le Tissier saw the red devils crash out of the competition.

Enough was enough for the Old Trafford board and big Ron departed just two days latter. Ferguson soon replaced him and began building the foundations for the last two decades' dominant force in English football.


2. The Grey Shirt Debacle. Saints 3-1 Manchester United, April 1996


It was 3-0 to Southampton at half time.... three clear goals to the good against a side now considered to be unquestionably the best. Ken Monkou, Neil Shipperley and Le Tissier had given us the advantage yet, in true Fergie fashion, he deflected the blame away from his players and instead blamed the teams shirts. The grey hue of the away strip allegedley blending in to the Dell crowd and ensuring his players couldn't see each other.

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Hands up if you can see Ryan Giggs..... I'm struggling.....


Emerging in their third choice Blue and White in the second half, Manchester United pulled a goal back but to little avail. We had recorded an (in)famous win over the Red Devils.


3. From the Sublime to the Ridiculous. Saints 6-3 Manchester United, October 1996
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A famous rout, only the decision to award on own goal for Neville for our sixth instead of allowing Egil Ostenstadt his hat-trick caused eyebrows to be raised. This was a true demolition in which Le Tissier utterly ran the show, capping his perfomance with an audacious chip of Peter Schmeichal, whose decision to wander briefly from his goal-line was sorely punished. We were starting to gain a reputation as Manchester United's bogey team... wonderful times.


4. Massimo Taibi. Manchester United 3-3 Saints. September 1999


A Marians Pahars goal after nutmegging Japp Stam was outstanding, yet the memory will always be the calamitous goalkeeper Massimo Taibi spilling Le Tissier's tame shot between his legs allowing us to equalise maters at 2-2. It will be making 'howlers' lists for decades to come.

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Psssst.... Massimo, It's behind you.....


5. A final goodbye from the Dell. Saints 2-1 Manchester United, May 2001.


On the verge of leaving the Dell for St Mary's and under Stuart Gray's brief stewardship, Saints had steadied themselves after Glenn Hoddle's bitter departure and were safely in mid-table. Manchester United also had little to prove, the championship having been tied up in relentless style.

An early own goal from Wes Brown saw us lead before Marians Pahars made it two on 16 minutes. After half an hour it was all rearguard action as we sought to keep the champions at bay but we did enough to make it 4 wins from 6 over Sir Alex Ferguson at the Dell. He was no doubt pleased to see the back of the Dell.


6. The Apex of Gordan Strachan's Reign. Saints 1-0 Manchester United, September 2003.

Cup Finalists, European qualification.... It was a great time to be a Saint ten years ago. Manchester United were in a transition phase, rebuilding in an effort to stay ahead of Arsenal, and a side featuring the future Old Trafford legends of Kleberson and Eric Djemba-Djemba arrived at St Mary's looking to push on.

A tight and nervy game saw James Beattie bring the roof of just before 90 minutes by strongly heading in a corner at the far post. We had been a match for Man United all game and the three points were richly deserved, sadly, our next home meeting in the league was to be a far more sombre affair.


7. An end to Saints in the Premier League. Saints 1-2 Manchester United, May 2005.

A smug Roy Keane gesturing to the Northam End, massive fan unrest and recriminations against the underperforming players and manager. It was Saints who cleared the way for Fergie to take over at Old Trafford and it was Sir Alex's side who hammered in the final nail into our coffin as we crashed out of the Premier League. The decline took a long time to arrest.


8. Cup Dreams. Saints 1-2 Manchester United. January 2011.


My prior blog here really tells the personal tale: http://www.saintsweb.co.uk/entry.php...e-at-a-wedding

A wonderful day where league 1 Saints took the game to Manchester United. Richard Chaplow's thunderous strike saw Manchester United fall behind to us before half time. An upset was averted in the second half due to fatigue and Manchester United's ability to bring internationals off the bench yet this game was a sign of our then rebirth and hope for the future.

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Chaplow's goal really was a thunderbolt.



9. His parting shot: "The Best Team to Visit Old Trafford All Season." Manchester United 2-1 Saints. February 2013.

The astonishing words to leave Sir Alex Ferguson's lips. An early Jay Rodriguez goal after a defensive error saw us lead before two goals in quick succession put the home side back into the lead at half time. The real story began in the second half with Saints camping out in the home half. Our pressing attacking play had caught Manchester United off guard and only a rare backs to the wall display from the Champions elect saw them preserve the win.

In our last visit to Old Trafford during Sir Alex Ferguson's reign, we were indeed praised as the best side to have visited there all season.


What happens now at Old Trafford will be fascinating, seeing Manchester United fans worry over managerial instability is a luxury most of us will not have witnessed. They will not be the only ones sad to see him depart though. In a way I am also sad to see him go, it was always fun to try and get another one over Sir Alex Ferguson.

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Updated 11-08-2013 at 01:18 PM by Colinjb

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