Man United are heavy favourites for tonight’s Capital One Cup clash with Middlesbrough, but ten years ago tomorrow, Boro destroyed a star-studded United XI.
The date was 29 October 2005. Sir Alex Ferguson led his Red Devils to the Riverside Stadium, where his former no. 2 Steve McClaren was poised to spring a trap.
United had won ten of the last 14 fixtures between the sides, and with the likes of Paul Scholes, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Wayne Rooney and future Ballon D’or winner Cristiano Ronaldo in the squad, Fergie would have expected a rout.
This was necessary to keep pace with a behemoth Chelsea side who stood atop of the Premier League thanks to a young Portuguese man who had anointed himself ‘The Special One’.
GK: Mark Schwarzer ¦ DF: Franck Queudrue, Chris Riggott, Emanuel Pogatetz, Matt Bates ¦ MF: Stuart Parnaby, George Boateng, Fábio Rochemback, Gaizka Mendieta ¦ FW: Jimmy F. Hasselbaink, Yakubu
GK: Edwin van der Sar ¦ DF: Mikael Silvestre, Rio Ferdinand, John O’Shea, Phil Bardsley ¦ MF: Ji-Sung Park, Darren Fletcher, Paul Scholes ¦ FW: Ruud van Nistelrooy, Wayne Rooney, Alan Smith
Gaizka Mendieta gave the Riversiders something to cheer about within just two minutes of the kick-off. He would go on to add a second in the 78th minute, but not before strike duo Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Yakubu ruined Van der Sar’s night also.
The big Yak would end the season with 13 league goals.
A certain Cristiano Ronaldo came on as a substitute to spare a whitewash by scoring in added time, but the drubbing was complete.
In 2015, both teams are fourth in their respective leagues – with Boro having been relegated to the Championship in 2009.
That doesn’t mean that Man United will have an easy time of it tonight though. The likes of David Nugent, Diego Fabbrini and Stuart Downing will be looking to emulate their predecessors.