Treble Chasing

With about a month left of the season Manchester United are in a position to repeat their remarkable achievement of Premiership, FA Cup and Champions League successes of 1999 – the Treble. After that day in Barcelona Sir Alex remarked that it was a feat that he thought would never be repeated, yet less than a decade later United can once again get their hands on all three. It is also worth noting that Chelsea can achieve the same treble to go with the League Cup they won earlier, making it a quadruple, but United are in a better position in the League, and are also already in the FA Cup final, while Chelsea play their semi final against Blackburn this afternoon. Of the team that won the treble in ’99 only Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, Ole Gunnar Solsjaer and Wes Brown remain (Brown was just beginning his first team career then). That season saw Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke form a formidable strike force with an understanding that has been seldom seen in sides since. The goals flowed through the strike duo as well as their back ups Teddy Sheringham and Ole Solsjaer. Giggs, Beckham and Blomqvist plied their front men with chances, while Scholes and Keane ran the midfield. The defence was held together by Jaap Stam and the daunting figure of the giant Dane in goal, Peter Schmeical. The team were famed for their attacking football and never say die attitude that resulted in many late goals and come from behind victories. These were best typified by the FA Cup victory over Liverpool, the semi final of the Champions League against Juventus in Italy, where United were 2-0 after 10min and won 3-2, and most famously the Final v Bayern Munchin, when United scored two injury time goals to win 2-1. The team this year has been a work in progress for the last few seasons, as Sir Alex has attempted to groom his young squad into a title winning outfit. This season could prove to be just that as United strive to end a four year drought without the League title. In Wayne Rooney and Christiano Ronaldo they have two of the best prospects in the game, and they’re development has been the key to all the success United may achieve this year. Rooney has gone through dips in form and goal shy periods, but his talent and attitude have never been in doubt and he is capable of driving the team and winning games with a single moment of genius. Ronaldo has been the driving force behind the team this year. He came to United as a teenager with exceptional ability and skill, but with a tendency to over do things, with little end result and the infamy of going down to easily. This year he is honed his skill to become a team player, setting up victories for his team, banging in the goals (20 already this year) curbing his diving, and been a joy to watch for all, while not sacrificing any of his dazzling skill and flair. The older heads of Neville, Scholes and Giggs have brought experience and know how to a young team, allowing them to achieve the consistencies that have been found wanting in recent years. Another major asset to the team has been the safe hands of Edwin van der Saar in goals. The United team of ’99 had the ability to go on and dominate in Europe for years to come, but failed to reach a final since that heady day. If this team is to fulfill it’s promise and potential the first step would be to win this seasons trophy and take it from there. The treble is well within reach and within their ability. It is also worth noting that the ’99 season started with David Beckham returning from the World Cup and vilified at every away ground he travelled to, ending with his two corners setting up both goals in the Champions League final, and sealing the treble. This season began with Ronaldo returning from the World Cup and vilified at every away ground he’s been to. You wouldn’t bet against him firing United to another treble.


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