The Team: Manchester United 1999

The most successful season ever in Manchester United Football Club’s iconic history was in 1998/99 when the soon to be Sir Alex Ferguson led his attacking red devils to a Premier League title, FA Cup win and first European Champions League title since 1968.

United actually got off to a rocky start with two draws from their opening two games and with new signings in particularly Dutch International defender Jaap Stam, Swedish winger Jesper Blomqvist and Trinidad & Tobago striker Dwight Yorke needing time to settle in, the Old Trafford outfit stumbled to three league defeats before Christmas including one to reigning champions Arsenal who beat them 3-0 in September.

In the Champions League the form was also hit and miss during the group stages, but in a tough group United’s attacking abundance produced some stunning moments, even if their defending left a little to be desired. United twice drew 3-3 against Barcelona in classic encounters, they drew twice with Bayern Munich also but beat Brondby home and away emphatically to qualify as runners up. United scored 20 goals in six group matches.

Back in the league a 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest on boxing day started a 20 match unbeaten run that saw them eventually win the title by just one point. Beating Arsenal to the top after a 2-1 last day win against Gunners rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Arsenal would also be punished in the FA Cup during a classic game in the semi final replay at Villa Park. Bergkamp had a last minute penalty at 1-1 saved by the great Peter Schemeichel which would have knocked United out only for Ryan Giggs to score a memorable goal in extra time running almost the length of the pitch to fire home the winner.

United buoyed by their league success saw off Newcastle United in the final of the FA Cup at Wembley whilst in the Champions League they would face Bayern Munich  at the Nou Camp after beating Internazionale in the last eight and Juventus in the semi final. A classic second leg ending 3-2 in Turin which cost United with Roy Keane and Paul Scholes suspended for the final.

Against Bayern, United looked jaded and tired in the finale to a long hard season as their opponents bossed the midfield battle and took the lead through Mario Basler. But as time drew close Manager Ferguson through on his wildcards as substitutes Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored in injury time to first equalise, then win the match in the most exciting finish to a European Cup final ever witnessed.

United had won all three, the treble and by doing so became the first English club to do so. A magnificent feat by a magnificent team of players that included the likes of David Beckham, Gary Neville, Dennis Irwin, Nicky Butt and Andy Cole of those not previously mentioned.

Peter Schmeichel the best goalkeeper of his day, Jaap Stam the best defender that season. The midfield was the best in Europe with Beckham, Keane, Scholes & Giggs and the firepower of Yorke, Cole, Sheringham, Solskjaer ensured United always scored, the balance was perfect.

No doubt the best performance from an English team in one calendar year, United of 99 provided fond memories because of the style they played the attacking philosophy and their never say die attitude that ensured no matter the score they always played until the very end.

Peter Schmeichel – Gary Neville, Jaap Stam, Ronny Johnsen, Dennis Irwin – David Beckham, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes Ryan Giggs – Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke

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