1 Mark Robins scores
7 January 1990
"Ta ra Fergie" said the banner. An ignominious League defeat by Crystal Palace was compounded by the FA Cup draw, which sent United to Nottingham Forest. Fergie's Fledglings had supposedly had their day but Mark Robins stitched his story to Alex Ferguson's, and United's, with the winner at the City Ground. United lifted the Cup four months later.
2 A chance call from Leeds United
25 November 1992
The Leeds managing director, Bill Fotherby, rang United to ask about the availability of Denis Irwin. That was dismissed, but United's chairman, Martin Edwards, asked about maverick Frenchman Eric Cantona in return. A deal was done in 24 hours and United – eighth at the time – were inspired to their first League title in 26 years.
3 Picking Kanchelskis over Robson
5 April 1993
Third-placed United had not won in four games when they went to second-placed Norwich. With Mark Hughes suspended and despite talk of bottling it, Ferguson eschewed the safe option of selecting Bryan Robson and picked Andrei Kanchelskis instead. Resurgent United were 3-0 up in half an hour in what was to become the first of seven straight wins to clinch that first United title since 1967.
4 Blackburn office staff knock off for weekend
On a Friday afternoon in the summer of 1993, Nottingham Forest's Roy Keane agreed to join Blackburn Rovers – but the Ewood Park office staff had gone home for the weekend, so the transfer paperwork could not go through until Monday. Over the weekend Ferguson called the Irishman and charmed him in to signing for United instead. Keane would be central to the following 12 years of United success, playing as inspirational captain for eight of them.
5 A wrongly awarded goal-kick
24 March 1996
In the Premier League at White Hart Lane Tottenham should have won a corner, and then Gary Mabbutt could have hobbled off to be replaced by Stuart Nethercott. Instead United played out from the back and Eric Cantona whipped past Mabbutt to score his fourth decisive goal in four matches. United reclaimed top spot from Newcastle – and stayed there.
6 Andy Cole given a start
3 October 1998
In 1998 Ferguson wanted to partner Dwight Yorke with Patrick Kluivert, but Kluivert declined even to discuss leaving Milan for United. Then, after five weeks on the bench, Andy Cole was brought into the side at Southampton. He and Yorke had the sort of instant chemistry usually reserved for cheesy romcoms and, within eight months, inspired United to the treble.
7 Ryan Giggs scuffs a shot
26 May 1999
If Ryan Giggs had connected with his attempted volley in the first minute of added time in the 1999 Champions League final, the ball would have hit the closing defender or flown into the stands. Fortunately for United he mis-hit the ball and it squirted to Teddy Sheringham, who equalised with an instinctive sweep of his right foot. That set up the mother of all fightbacks to see off Bayern.
8 Pascal Cygan pulls a muscle
26 April 2003
Arsenal, the defending champions, were 2-0 up against Bolton and on course for the top of the table when Cygan pulled up and Martin Keown came on. Soon Youri Djorkaeff took advantage of hesitation in the Arsenal defence, and with seven minutes remaining Keown headed a Djorkaeff free-kick into his own goal. United beat Spurs the next day to go five points clear with two matches remaining.
9 Tim Howard's terms and conditions
28 April 2007
Everton conceded more goals to Manchester United than any other team after the terms of Tim Howard's loan move prevented him playing against United. (He played every other league fixture in 2006-07.) At Goodison Park Everton were 2-0 up until stand-in Iain Turner fumbled the ball to John O'Shea, who scored the first of four goals to keep United clear of Chelsea. A week later they had secured their first Premier League title in four years. José Mourinho, whose success at Chelsea had challenged Ferguson, lost his job at Stamford Bridge five months later.
10 Terry's Moscow muff
21 May 2008
Nicolas Anelka fluffed the final penalty but it a slip from John Terry on the sodden turf that helped his effort on to the post, that allowed the inevitability of United victory to creep into the darkest recesses of Chelsea minds and send blood rushing to all the right places for United's remaining penalty takers. The outcome? Ferguson claimed his second Champions League title.
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