The comparison is almost too obvious, but certainly unavoidable. Twenty years on, the same club return to the same stadium and the same man is at the heart of it again.
Manchester United revisit Camp Nou tomorrow for their Champions League quarter-final second leg against Barcelona 1-0 down and needing a turnaround akin to the famous final of 1999, in which their now manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored the injury-time winner in a remarkable 2-1 victory over Bayern Munich that clinched a historic treble.
Having spent plenty of his four months in charge of United evoking the past, speaking passionately about the clubs history and identity, telling tales of Sir Alex Ferguson and of the mythology of Old Traffords Stretford End, you would think now would be the perfect time for Solskjaer to lay it on thick. No cause is a lost one. United dont give up. Write your own history.
With Ferguson in Barcelona alongside the squad there are bound to be some rallying words from the legendary manager. But it seems, this time at least, that to inspire his players Solskjaer is keen to move away from his previous strategy to draw instead upon the more recent past.
Solskjaer scored from a corner in injury-time after Teddy Sheringham had equalised (Source: Getty)
He says he wont mention the events of 1999 to his players, preferring to use their own exploits in beating Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 last month and Juventus 2-1 in November.
“No, I wont because it was against Bayern Munich – it was a final, it was different,” Solskjaer said after Uniteds 2-1 win over West Ham on Saturday.
“We will use the PSG [match], we will use Juventus away. We have beaten some good teams away from home this year, and played against some great players.”
Before their recent slump, which has seen United lose four of their last six matches in all competitions, Solskjaers side had indeed produced plenty of impressive performances away from home.
Under Solskjaer United broke a club record by winning nine successive away games – a streak which included victories at top-four rivals Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea.
Paul Pogba's two penalties helped United beat West Ham 2-1 on Saturday (Source: Getty)
But it is undoubtedly the win at the Parc des Princes on 6 March which carries the biggest psychological weight. Becoming the first team in 107 attempts, across the history of the Champions League and European Cup, to overcome a 2-0 deficit from the home first leg means something.
Barcelona may be nine points clear in La Liga, with just one defeat in all competitions since 23 January and with one of the greatest players of all time in their ranks, but Uniteds task remains improbable, rather than impossible.
“Of course what we did against PSG as a team must give everyone a huge confidence boost because that experience was probably the best they have had for many years, those players,” Solskjaer said.
“They are probably dreaming about another one of themRead More – Source