|Opening Day Of The Season 1987 - Manchester United|
Wed 25th Jul 2012 13:11
This was the season that the legacy of the Lawrie McMenemy dynasty finally fell apart as Chris Nicholl finally started to become his own man.
But it wasnt only at the Dell McMenemy's work was unravelling, his two years at Sunderland in which he was meant to lead them out of the second division and back into the first had in one sense been 50% succesful, he had lead them out of the second tier, but sadly for mackem's he had taken them to the third division for the first time in their history, resigning just weeks before the end of the season and their fate being officially confirmed, however he did launch a new joke, "What have the Titanic & Lawrie McMenemy got in common ? They both should never have left Southampton"
It had been all change in the Saints squad though, following Mark Dennis out of the door after his very public bust up with Nicholl were Mark Wright and Peter Shilton who both joined Derby County, never to play at the Dell again without abuse for the manner in which they left, In addition Nick Holmes and David Armstrong left on free transfers, Holmes retiring from the professional game due to injury and Armstrong who himself struggling with injury left for Bournemouth, sadly he would succumb completely to it within a few months at Dean Court and retire himself, lastly and perhaps least George Lawrence left for Millwall for a fee of £160k and Jon Gittens unable to force his way into the team moved to Swindon.
If the out door was swinging wildly, so was the in door, John Burridge made Saints his 10th club, Kevin Moore rejoined his old Grimsby colleague Chris Nichollfrom Oldham for £150,000 and ex Saint Graham Baker came back from Man City after five years, one thing was sure you needed to buy a programme at this game to see who would be playing for Saints.
Burridge however wasnt in the team for the visit of Man Utd in Alex Ferguson's first season, Tim Flowers was preferred, Graham Baker made his second debut for the club and Kevin Moore was joined as a genuine debutant by Andy Cook at left back, Saints very short in this position with the loss of Dennis and the two who usually filled in Holmes and Armstrong, although within the week Derek Statham would be another new signing to make the position his own.
So it was 21,214 in the ground to see saints run out in blazing sunshine in their new kit, a mish mash of stripes very similar to the Denmark strip of the 86 World Cup and this also saw a change of kit manufacturer Hummell taking over from Patrick after seven years.
he game burst into life in the 26th minute when Norman Whiteside put the visitors ahead, the lead lasted all of three minutes when Danny Wallace got the ball on the half way line ran at the United defence and then cracked in shot past Gary Walsh to equalise, but barely had the applause died down when Saints were caught again by Whiteside who restored the lead and thats the way it stayed at the break.
The game was changed by Jimmy Case, at least thats what Alex Ferguson thought, he felt that although United had been good for their first half lead, Case coming on as sub for Gordon Hobson made the difference second half, and as United lost their way Saints found theirs, Danny Wallace scored again just before the hour, but thats the way the game stayed and both sides probably felt that a draw was a fair return from the game.
Big things were expected from United and Alex Ferguson, who probably forgot to seek out youngster Matt Le Tissier and thank him for the goals that lead to him getting the job, Ferguson was expected to deliver the title to Old Trafford and although its true that in his early years he underperformed, its forgotten that in this, his first full season he actually finished runner up to a dominant Liverpool side, the Red Devils losing only five games in the league all season, sadly for Fergie Liverpool would only lose two, although for the record Saints lost to neither of them in the League or indeed third placed Nottingham Forest and in fact won the return game at Old Trafford 2-0 courtesy of two Colin Clarke goals.
Things were changing at Saints and within a year the youth policy would blossom as Lawrie Mcmenemy's old guard finally departed.
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