The media have been busy compiling “best of” lists and delivering awards to celebrate the two decades of one of the most exciting leagues in the world, but here at Red Rants we thought that, only by celebrating the team that has won the Premier League 12 times since its inception, would the anniversary been properly marked.
So, here’s the first stop in our 12 stations trip, throughout 20 years that have seen United dominating, the emergence of boy bands (of dubious talent), civil wars & revolutions across Europe and technology reach heights previously unseen.
United started the Premier League era still shocked from losing the title to bitter rivals Leeds United the previous season, when a title that had looked within touching distance slipped away in a fixture pile-up that extended United’s wait for a league title to 26 years.
The Premier League debut, on the 15th of August 1992, is one to forget with United succumbing to a 2-1 defeat at Bramall Lane against Sheffield United as Brian Deane scored the first ever Premier League goal.
Ten days later, between the 24th and the 28th of August, hurricane Andrew would hit Florida and kill 23 people but, by then, United were licking their wounds following a 0-3 defeat at home against Everton in the first Premier League game hosted at Old Trafford.
September sees United crashing out of the UEFA Cup after losing on penalties against Torpedo Moscow and by the time Sinead O’Connor rips up a picture of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live on the 3rd of October, United are sixth on the table, five points adrift of leaders Blackburn following a 1-1 draw at Middlesbrough, with a certain Steve Bruce on the scoresheet.
A day later an Israeli plane crashes in Amsterdam, killing 43 people and injuring many more.
Mark Hughes scores twice as United come from behind to draw against Liverpool at Old Trafford (where the Stretford End is being redeveloped into an all-seated stand) on the 18th of October, he then adds four goals in as many games from mid-november to mid-december as United bounce back from two consecutive defeats to dispose of Oldham (3-0 at home), Arsenal (1-0 away), City and Norwich (2-1 and 1-0 at home respectively).
November the 25th is a historic date for the world as the Czechoslovakia Federal Assembly votes to split the country into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, starting on January 1, 1993 but, for Manchester United, the following day is just as historically important as the soon to become King, Eric Cantona, moved across the Pennines from Leeds United for a £1.2million fee in what proved to be arguably the bargain of the century in English football.
Eric made his competitive debut as second half substitute against City at Old Trafford on 6 December 1992, before scoring his first goal in a 1-1 draw at Chelsea two weeks later, before netting again on Boxing day as United came back from 3-0 against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough to secure a 3-3 draw.
United open 1993 by overcoming Bury 2-0 in the third round of the FA Cup, before Cantona inspires a 4-1 hammering of Spurs at Old Trafford just 11 days before Bill Clinton succeeds George H.W. Bush as the 42nd President of the United States.
January ends with United slumping to a 2-1 defeat at Portman Road against Ipswich Town, as Norwich lead United and Villa by a point, while the Buffalo Bills claim the unwanted record of becoming the first team to lose three Super Bowls in a row as they are defeated 52-17 by a Troy Aikman inspired Dallas Cowboys.
Cantona makes his return to Elland Road on the 8th of February and is fined by the FA for spitting at the crowd but, by then, United are one point clear of big-spending Villa at the top of the table, albeit having played a game more than Ron Atkinson’s side.
February is a turbulent month across the world as the UN votes a resolution to establish an international tribunal to prosecute violations of international laws in Yugoslavia, while a van bomb parked below the WTC in New York explodes, killing 6 people.
United crash out of the FA Cup on Valentine’s day following a 2-1 defeat away at Sheffield Wednesday, with Ryan Giggs scoring for the Reds, but United bounce back to win three on the trot, with Southampton and Middlesbrough falling at Old Trafford (2-1 and 3-0), before Brian McClair and Mark Hughes conquer Anfield on the 6th of March.
France lift the 5 Nations trophy, before United stumble to three draws in a row as they negotiate games against Villa, City (with Cantona scoring his first derby goal) and Arsenal, before delivering a blistering performance that sees them sweep surprise package Norwich aside 3-1 at Carrow Road, courtesy of goals from Cantona, Giggs and Kanchelskis.
The win puts United one point behind Villa, with both teams having played 36 games; and one point ahead of the Canaries who have played a game more.
April the 10th is Steve Bruce Day, as the United captain comes to the rescue with two late headers as United snatch victory from the jaws of defeat after John Sheridan had put Sheffield Wednesday ahead with 65 minutes played.
Bruce’s second goal sparks scenes of jubilation, with Brian Kidd jumping up and down on the touchline and it will prove to be the pivotal moment in the title race as United beat Coventry, Chelsea and Palace in the next 11 days, finishing April four points clear of Villa at the top of the table, following Villa’s 3-0 defeat at Ewood Park.
April ends in tears for Monica Seles, as the US tennis player is stabbed in the back during a changeover in a tournament in Hamburg. Seles is attacked by a deranged fan of rival Steffi Graf and will not play again for two years after the incident.
On May the 2nd, Villa slump to a 1-0 defeat at home against Oldham, handing the title to United who are champions even before they beat Blackburn 3-1, as Old Trafford celebrates the end of a 26-year-old drought.
1992-1993 Facts and Figures
Premier League: P42 W24 D12 L6 GF67 GA31 Pts84
Top Scorer: Mark Hughes (16)
Most Appearances: Brian McClair (49)
Petrol: 43p per Litre
Pint: £1.29 (bitter) – £1.44 (lager)
Most weeks at UK’s number 1: Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You (10)*
*Takes into account number one hits during a football season, rather than a calendar year.