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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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SaintBrock added 14:09 - Apr 13
Time to move on, many fans were not even born when MLT was around these parts as a player so it means nothing to them in the same way that Ernie Rawlings and Bill Ephgrave means nothing to you or me.

redwight added 15:02 - Apr 13
Bit churlish that, SaintBrock. There's another anniversary coming up on the 1st may. Should we not mark it because it was 40 years ago?

Zambucco added 17:56 - Apr 13
SaintBrock I'd love to hear stories involving Ernie Rawlings and Bill Ephgrave, in fact any old stories that I've never heard before, as I've heard most of those from when I was around, as I'm sure many fans would.

Just saying...

ericofarabia added 19:28 - Apr 13
SB you total c0ck!! I pity the fans who weren't even born 20, 30 or even 40 years ago. Those of us Lucky (or unlucky! ) enough to have been around in the 70 and 80's, sod it even the 60's have seen some amazing times with the club. The 1st ever promotion to the top tier, 1st ever ventures into Europe, winning The FA Cup, another 2 more promotions back to the Top Tier, signing a European Footballer of The Year, Div 1 Runners Up, a whole galaxy of world class players gracing our team, watching some of the most attractive football you could wish for, relegations, boardroom squabbles, descending to our lowest ever ebb and then getting back to where we are now. If I was a mere whippersnapper now I'd love to hear about former successes and great players, in order to understand why people like MLT are held in such high esteem.
The article by Nick is based on a "Ön this day in history" .... should we only look at things no greater than 5 or 10 years ago?

SaintNick added 20:42 - Apr 13
The Clubs that cherish and honour their history are the ones that create an aura around them and are considered the great clubs of the World, go to Benfica, Barcelona, Real madrid, Liverpool, Manchester United, Ajaz and more and see how they embrace their history whilst always looking forward. them play

The Busby Babes mean as much to United supporters aged 20 as those who are old enough to remember

ericofarabia added 20:45 - Apr 13
Spot on Nick.

SeattleSaints added 22:04 - Apr 13
Lucky enough to be at the last few games...always remember being in the Milton vs Wimbledon seeing Mick Harford bend over while warming up and seeing the huge holes in the underside of his tracksuit bottoms...I guess that's all they could afford back in the day.
Always good to hear the old stories thanks Nick!

luffy22 added 22:36 - Apr 13
I used to sit in the archers back in them days with my dad, amazing and its the memories like that which brings a smile to my face, so its makes me sad for people to belittle my memories, ones like Franny scoring, wayne bridges goal against Wimbledon, running onto the pitch on my first ever trip to the dell to ask Peter Osgood for his autograph and him telling me he was not allowed to on the pitch, but I met him afterwards and he remembered me apologised and signed my programme, Bruce Grobbelaar with his hat collecting the fake money, being at Everton singing 'we want two' when we were 7-1 down, Mattys goal at Blackburn. The Worzel Gummidge bloke running into the goal post and knocking himself out as he was scoring a goal, (seem to remember against west ham) just about keeping us up (again). Again against West Ham the away fans pointing at a some bloke in the archers and singing 'your fat and your birds a slag' so he decided to take them all on and was rugby tackled by the stewards and thrown out. How about the band that made a song about matty and the leeds fans shouting them down and they had to be removed before it got ugly. When Alan Ball came with Man city and the crowd were singing about ' wearing his hat back to front and looking a proper tw@t'. OMG I've just remembered my first derby match, saints won 3-1, cup match I think, dad and I were walking past the player entrance when the scammers coach pulled up and what seemed like hundreds of people came from no where to boo the players off the coach.

I don't see that passion anymore, especially with the players, so for me the memories are much better than the current day experience.

SaintNick added 22:41 - Apr 13
Some great memories, I remember all of them myself its what football is all about

saintmark1976 added 07:48 - Apr 14
Never forget the fat policeman who thought the police dog "target" was a football hooligan who had run onto the pitch during their half time display and attempted to "nick him" before the dog got to him.

Also the Chelsea fans shouting "going down,going down,going down" to which we replied "so are we, so are we, so are we" or the Everton manager (Jimmy Sirrell?) who smiled and laughed all of the way from the tunnel to the dugout as the fans ripped it out of him because of the size of his nose.

CovSaint added 10:03 - Apr 14
@ SaintBrock... well trolled, sir!

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