Date:Friday September 14 2007
Goodison Park is always a tough place to visit but United enjoyed most of their recent visits - especially last year's!
Everton fans may remember fondly to Duncan Ferguson's goal against United in 2005, their only win over us for a long, long time. But in terms of league crown or relegation issues, this fixture has never been of great importance down the years, as far as my memory serves me correctly.
Last season it was different, though. United and Chelsea were head-to-head, with us holding a three-point advantage but we seemed a bit tired. But at Goodison, we arrived to the brink of title glory last season.
After an hour, though, it looked unlikely that we could retrieve our crown. Chelsea were only drawing 2-2 despite coming back from behind to lead 2-1 against Bolton but they had 30 minutes to break down their opponents while we were two down to a resolute, determined Everton and looked out of steam. I was sure we were dead and buried, down and out.
Clive Tyldesley said on a famous night that 'Down and out - not a bit of it, they are NEVER out'. And he was right but I saw little hope. Yet there was, just around the corner.
Out of the blue, if I'm allowed such a dreadful pun, we turned the game on its head, thanks to Mr. Turner, preferred to Richard Wright in Everton's goal, in the absence of Tim Howard who could not play due to a gentleman's agreement between the two clubs as he was United's player at that moment, only on loan at Goodison.
He fumbled a Carrick corner and John O'Shea, most deadly finisher of the Premiership last season, reacted instantly and tucked it away. Minutes later Ronaldo's powerful header was blocked by someone and it somehow got to Phil Neville who tried to boot it out firmly but proceeded to find his own net. Thank you Phil!
From that moment, there was only one winner and over at Stamford Bridge, the scoreboard operators took down the result of our game. I could not blame them: from that moment, I was sure that we would win the game and win the league.
The sense of inevitability was there as Hibbert's misplaced pass was captured, laid in the path of Giggs whose cross Rooney controlled and then fired a low shot into the far corner of the net.
The away support went mad and especially after word got spread that Chelsea and Bolton finished 2-2 at Goodison Park. Rooney, booed constantly, put it right with kissing the United badge on his way to the away end - and I loved that and we all loved that.
A minute later, Chris Eagles curled a wonderful shot into the far corner to complete the most remarkable comeback of the season. Fergie, literally bouncing with joy and excitement, tried to show his players that Chelsea and Bolton finished 2-2 though we'll never know if they managed to guess what he meant, for the final whistle was blown not long afterwards.
United fans celebrated as if we had won the title - and certainly, it looked very unlikely that another dramatic turn of events would occur. It didn't: with a little help from Arsenal, we wrapped up the title.
Tomorrow's game might be one of the highlights of our season but unless we give an extraordinarily memorable performance, it's unlikely to be, simply because it's too early in the season. But it was good to write down all this and recall all those great memories. Please forgive me if you feel it was pointless - it was for my own joy and for the joy of those who love to relive these things in read, on video or simply in their heads.
Date:Friday September 14 2007
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