It Was 20 Years Ago Today Matt Le Tissier Taught The Mancs To Play
Wednesday, 13th Apr 2016 12:48
What was also going in and out of style that day, to continue the Beatles song lyric theme was the colour of United's shirts. Here we look back at the day that Fergie threw his toys out of the pram and his grey shirts into the bin.
There is a popular myth in football that the day that Manchester United played in their grey kit in the first half and then their blue in the second was the game that Saints won 6-3, that is wrong although that game as this one exactly 20 years ago today was played in 1996, the reality is that the game in which the shirts were changed was a 3-1 win over the Red Devils on 13th April 1996 as Saints battled against relegation.
United arrived at the Dell that sunny April day having won 10 out of the last 11, the Premier League was hotting up and with four games to play they led by six points although Newcastle had a game in hand.
The relegation battle had come down to perming three from five and the day started with Bolton bottom on 29 points and Saints fifth from bottom on 31, with Coventry, QPR & Manchester City squeezed in between.
The first two of Saints final four where United at home and Newcastle away, then it was a trip to Bolton Wanderers and a final home game against Wimbledon.
So Saints had perhaps the toughest run in of all the bottom five and things were not looking good going into this game against the countries top team.
The truth is Saints went out like a team possessed, they hustled and bustled in a manner which they had failed to do most of the season,
On 11 minutes Ken Monkou had a header, it was saved by Schmeichel but the keeper could not hold it and Monkou stabbed in the rebound to send Saints fans wild.
On 23 minutes it was Neil Shipperley who squeezed the ball home at the near post to double the scoreline.
But i both teams were approaching the break looking to the dressing room for different reasons, up stepped that man Le Tissier in the 43rd minute to turn the game on its head both in terms of result and questions on TV quiz shows.
Peter Schmeichel came for a cross and over stretched himself, as he fell to the ground the ball dropped at the feet of the man United least wanted it too, the man they called Le God in Southampton.
Le Tiss reacted quickly, he flicked the ball over the stranded Schmeichel before the Keeper could react and then with the other foot with two men in front of him on the line stroked it into the far corner grazing the post as it went in. Amazingly this was Le Tissier's first goal from open play all season.
The half time whistle blew barely after Saints had finished celebrating and as United trooped off to face the inevitable hair dryer, Saints fans stood stunned at what they had just witnessed.
As United re took the pitch after the break, something seemed different, at first i thought that it was the fact that Schmeichel had changed his jersey then the realisation sunk in, United had changed their entire kit from grey to blue.
Post match Ferguson complained that his players had been unable to pick out their team mates against the crowd, but the crowd was dressed predominately in red & white not grey
Back to the match and Saints just needed to keep it tight and make sure that they did not give United the chance to get back into it, it was tense and it was nervy, you always felt that if United did score that goal to reduce the arrears this could easily change from a day that was fantastic to one that went down in the meory for all the wrong reasons.
Saints did keep it tight though and with injury time approaching and the Saints fans already beginning to acclaim a momentous victory, United got a consolation through Ryan Giggs, but coming in the 89th minute, even Saints were not going to throw it away now.
Saints lost the following game at Newcastle 1-0 , won at Bolton and then survived a nervy last day 0-0 with Wimbledon to stay up just, Manchester City joining Bolton and QPR in the drop after having pulled back a two goal deficit at home to Liverpool, ex Saints manager Alan Ball now publicly enemy number 1 in Southampton for the manner in which he deserted, was told by the crowd as he sat on the Manchester City bench that Wimbledon had scored a late winner at the Dell, he ordered City to hold the ball rather than push for the winner that they actually needed.
The final whistle blew at the Dell and the news filtered through that City had drawn, up at Maine Road City were just realising that they had been misinformed and that they had been relegated whilst Saints fans were singing in the streets and pubs long into the night.
Photo: Action Images
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