The Fergie Finals
Six FA Cup Finals provide several omens for us ahead of Sir Alex Ferguson's seventh final.
Who would forget the first ever final under Fergie, the very success that allowed him to continue his rebuilding programme? Or the win over Newcastle that was the second step towards the Treble? The first double in 1994? In case you forgot, read our reminders!
1990 - The very first one: The only final under Fergie that went to a replay. It was a glorious day and a glorious, exhilarating game as both teams played with great attacking intent to seal a 3-3 draw and earn a replay. That was not as memorable but Lee Martin's goal ensured that after five bleak years, Fergie has finally won a trophy.
1994 - The first double: The league champions were not in the form of their lives at the end of the season and having been outplayed by Chelsea in the first half, things did not look good. However, Fergie's hairdrier seemed to work well as the Reds were much more purposeful in the second half. They were awarded a definite penalty then an outrageous one and the one and only Cantona scored from both. Chelsea were struggling and United were in their stride after this and there could be only one winner. Hughes and McClair sealed it as Fergie's favourite United team reached it's prime.
1995 - The frustration: The season when United had done a Leverkusen seven years before Leverkusen actually blew everything in the last week of their season. We lost the league on the final day and then lost the Cup final to Everton on a day when the Reds lacked verve, flair and imagination to break down a very solid team, aided by an excellent goalkeeper, Neville Southall.
1996 - The dullest: Of course, most United fans, including myself, don't care that it was a dull game. We remember it for Cantona's brilliant finish right at the end of the match. Otherwise, it was forgettable, with chances few and far between. But beating Liverpool with such a goal - it will linger in our memory for ever.
1999 - The easiest: Newcastle tried hard but the only success they had was that Roy Keane had to be stretchered off early. His replacement, Teddy Sheringham, scored with virtually his first touch to cap a fine move. Then he turned provider in the second half, laying off the ball to Scholes who made it 2-0 in a game when the Reds were clearly superior to their opponents.
2004 - The Ronaldo-show: Millwall never stood a chance against the Reds - their only hope was clinging onto the 0-0 draw and pray that a shoot-out would go well for them. They were very hard to break down but once it happened, it was inevitable that United would win easily. That was Cristiano Ronaldo's first really good game in a red shirt - it was the moment when I started to believe he could indeed be a really good signing.
2005 - The most painful: Bloody Arsenal. They have already surrendered their league crown to Chelsea but the press were still drooling over them as the only followers of the True Path and the victims of other team's roughness. Then of course came the final itself and during the game Arsenal were outplayed, outfought and outthought for 120 minutes. They were desperately lucky to cling on to a 0-0 draw and their first shot on target came in extra-time... Cole, Lauren, Vieira, Reyes and co. tried to kick Ronaldo and Rooney off the park after claiming United are a rough team. But of course, as it so often happens, justice did not prevail and they won the shootout. It still hurts.
So, after all these memories, what can we expect of the future? The future is currently represented by Saturday's final which, by all means, I don't think will be a very good game. To be honest, the finals we participated in were never great spectacles, apart from that 3-3 draw in 1990. We meet a team of very much the same quality and that rarely means we're in for a real treat.
But I agree with Carrick: who cares? Winning that bloody double is all what matters now!