It hasn’t taken long for supporters of other clubs, particularly those from the red side of town, to find another stick to bash Manchester City with. For years, they held a banner at Old Trafford, reminding us of how long it had taken the blues to win another trophy.
After winning the FA Cup in 2011, the banner came down, but then we got hit with ‘you haven’t won the league for 40-odd years, we’ve won 12 since then.’ Back came the blues and won the Premier League the following season and, despite United winning it in 2013, City have gone on to take the trophy on another six occasions.
Then the blues went one better by becoming the first English team to take the domestic treble in 2019. But, according to the reds, that doesn’t count as the treble because it didn’t include the Champions League. Well, guys, that would have made it a quadruple, wouldn’t it?
However, United fans have still insisted that winning all three domestic trophies is easier than winning a Euro treble. If that’s the case, then why are City the only team to do it? Duh!!!
But now, City have a golden opportunity to match United’s achievements of 1999 and will do so with victory over Inter Milan on Saturday. Winning on Saturday is by no means certain - Milan didn’t get there by accident or with a huge amount of luck. They are there on merit and must be treated as the threat they are.
However, while blues fans remain grounded and rate the chances of winning it as 50/50, many United fans have already decided that City will win it. And they’re now citing words by David Beckham after Saturday’s FA Cup final as a new stick to bash the blues with.
The former United man made the bitter claim that the reds’ treble-winning side of 1999 was full of home-grown players, a not-so-subtle and not-very-clever dig at City’s foreign players. Since Beckham made this claim, social media platforms have been awash with United fans claiming the team was all home-grown and how their treble would be much better than City’s because of this.
Oh, if only Beckham had remembered how football worked in those days, he would not have made such a stupid comment. Then again, the midfielder was never the brightest star in the night sky.
The 3+2 Rule
If United had won the treble in the 94/95 season, he would have actually been correct. That year, UEFA had a ruling that only allowed clubs to play three foreign players and two foreign nationals that had progressed through the club’s academy. For their 4-0 defeat to Barcelona, United fielded Andrei Kanchelskis, Dennis Irwin and Roy Keane as their three ‘foreign’ players, with Ryan Giggs and Mark Hughes being classed as academy products (Hughes initially went through United’s youth team despite being transferred in later in his career).
However, the Bosman ruling changed everything and clubs were then allowed to play as many EU nationals in their teams as they liked. In 1999, United’s team consisted of eight players that would have been classed as foreign just a few years earlier.
Peter Schmeichel (Denmark), Ronny Johnsen (Norway), Jaap Stam (Netherlands), Jesper Blomqvist (Sweden) and Dwight Yorke (Trinidad and Tobago), joined Irwin and Giggs in the starting line-up, meaning only four of the XI were English. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Norway) became the eighth and substitute keeper Raimond van der Gouw (Netherlands) meant only half of the team was home-grown, not packed like Beckham claims.
And, if you look at the players that were bought, 11 of the 18-man squad came to the club for a fee, with seven of the starting line-up brought in from other clubs. Does this mean, under the unofficial ruling, that United bought the Champions League in 1999? Surely not!
No doubt that, if the blues do take the treble home on Saturday night, the arguments will continue to rage across the Internet. One such comment on Twitter stupidly tried to explain why United’s success would eclipse City’s. However, City fan @plattlake gave such a succinct reply that United fans simply wouldn’t be able to match: “Will be more impressive cos we f*****” you lot on the way.”
Needless to say, the United fan deleted the tweet, put his bucket hat on eBay and pretended he no longer existed!