The August opener to United's League
Premiership campaign set the tone for the Season in terms of late goals with a 90th minute
goal by Beckham earning United a 2-2 draw with visitors Leicester City. Dwight Yorke made
his debut for United in the 0-0 draw against West Ham in which United had control for much
of the game but without reward and were unlucky to have a penalty appeal turned down.
In September a 4-1 win against Charlton Athletic saw Dwight
Yorke strike twice on his home debut with Solskjaer scoring two also. United followed this
with a comfortable 2-0 victory against Coventry City in which Stam's growing assurance at
the back and Yorke's movement in attack indicated the shape of things to come. Following a
thrilling 3-3 Champions League match against Barcelona, United travelled to Highbury in
the Premier League where they went down 3-0 to Arsenal. However, a 2-0 victory against
Liverpool put United back on winning ways.
October saw United reach some of their magnificent best,
with Southampton defeated 3-0 despite United being without Schmeichel, Giggs and Scholes.
Wimbledon were then on the wrong end of a 5-1 score line which could easily have been
double figures. The Yorke and Cole partnership continued to flourish, Keane was looking
majestic, and a League debut for Wes Brown suggested United have another great young
prospect. United's next game in the Champions League saw Brondby suffer a similar fate,
going down 6-2. United followed this with a sluggish performance in their 1-1 Premier
League draw against Derby. Trailing 0-1 Ferguson sent on Blomqvist, Scholes and Cruyff to
try and salvage something from the match, the latter scoring the equaliser after 86
minutes. However, the month finished with a flourish with a 4-1 win away to Everton and
Blomqvist setting up Cole for the third before scoring the fourth himself.
In November a 0-0 draw against Newcastle United was
followed by the visit of Blackburn Rovers. United found themselves 3-0 up against Rovers,
yet finishing the game tense and holding out for a 3-2 win after Blackburn scored twice.
This was followed by a 3-1 defeat by Sheffield Wednesday before United got back on track
with a 3-2 victory over Leeds United.
December opened with a game against Aston Villa, at that
time top of the Premiership by one point from United. The result was a tense and scrappy
1-1 draw. United then lost points in a 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur after two early
strikes by Solskjaer were cancelled out by two from Campbell, the second in the 90th
minute. A 1-1 draw with Chelsea was followed by a home game against Middlesbrough in which
United found themselves 3-0 down before pegging the score back to a more respectable 3-2.
A 3-0 win over struggling Nottingham Forest was as welcomed for the clean sheet as for the
three goals in what had been an inconsistent period. The final Premiership fixture of the
year saw United play Chelsea again, this time earning a 0-0 draw due to a commanding
performance by Schmeichel.
In January United started to get into their stride. West
Ham went down 4-1, followed by Leicester City 2-6 which saw Yorke complete a hat trick and
Stam register his first goal for United. A more modest 0-1 score line defeated Charlton
Athletic with an 89th minute goal from Yorke.
February saw another Yorke strike defeat Derby 1-0 before
United recorded a massive 1-8 away win against Nottingham Forest. In the process,
Solskjaer, on as a substitute, set a Premiership record, scoring four times in the final
ten minutes. Forest's Manager Ron Atkinson fresh from the 8 goal demolition was still able
to raise a laugh even in defeat, quipping "Good job they didn't put him on earlier -
or we'd really have been in trouble!" February also saw United draw 1-1 with title
challengers Arsenal, a result which kept the title race wide open. After this United
ground out a 1-0 win over Coventry City before taking 80 minutes to break down a stubborn
Southampton side to secure a 2-1 win.
United visited St James' Park in March and came away with a
1-2 win, Cole enjoying the return to his old club. This was followed by a 3-1 win over
In April despite a sustained second-half assault United
could only manage a 1-1 draw with Wimbledon. An easier 3-0 win against Sheffield Wednesday
was followed by a 1-1 draw away to Leeds United. Hasselbaink scored the Leeds goal and
both he and Leeds were to have a decisive say in the destination of the title. Yorke
narrowly missed taking all the points for Manchester United with the last kick of the
The title run in in May saw United start with a 2-1 win
over Aston Villa. This was followed by an intense match against rivals Liverpool who were
desperate to inflict damage on United's title ambitions. With United 2-0 up and seemingly
in control, Liverpool came back to scrape a 2-2 draw, Ince delighted with his 89th minute
Denied the extra points the following match at against
Middlesbrough had to be won to keep the destiny of the Premiership title in United's
hands. United secured the points with a 1-0 win which put United and Arsenal level on both
points and goal difference. United topped the table only by virtue of a superior number of
goals scored and a nail biting climax to the Season was ensured.
Arsenal played Leeds United on Tuesday 11th May, in a game
which ultimately cost Arsenal the title as Leeds striker Hasselbaink grabbed a late goal
in the 86th minute to defeat the Gunners 1-0. This result would prove vital. United
visited Blackburn Rovers the next evening, Rovers now being managed by Brian Kidd who had
left his post as Ferguson's right hand man earlier in the Season.
Rovers needed a win to have any chance of surviving
relegation, a 0-0 draw saw them relegated, and United had to settle for a single point
lead over Arsenal.
It all came down to the last game. If United beat Tottenham
Hotspur the title was theirs; a draw would not be enough if Arsenal won their final game.
It was an almost unbearably tense situation and United almost went ahead after just 4
minutes when Spurs goalkeeper Walker stuck the ball against Yorke and it rebounded towards
the goal. The ball should have gone in, but somehow despite the spin taking the ball goal
bound - it bounced back into Walkers grasp.
United were in control of the game, but it was Tottenham
that took the lead with Ferdinand after 25 minutes and United fans looked on wondering if
their Season was about to fall apart. Slowly United asserted themselves again, and just
before the interval a Beckham strike on 43 minutes levelled the score at 1-1.
In the first of several inspired substitutions in the last
three treble games, Ferguson introduced the rested Cole after the interval. Cole promptly
rewarded him with a perfectly controlled and weighted lob over Walker from six yards. Old
Trafford went wild. The tension was not over however as news filtered through from
Highbury that Arsenal too had now taken the lead. United now had to hold on to claim the
There were no further goals, and Ferguson was able to claim
his fifth title, and the first to be won at home. United's unbeaten run in all
competitions now stood at 31 matches. The first part of the treble was complete.