Newcastle 5-0 Man United, 20/10/1996
Given recent performances against Manchester City and Liverpool, it seemed only right to go back to the 20th of October 1996 for this week’s Premier League Rewind. Manchester United were on the wrong end of a 5-0 scoreline at St. James’ Park that day. Although it did not make up for how they had capitulated and lost the title on the final day of the previous season, Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan still described it as “undoubtedly, the most enjoyable day I have ever had as a manager”.
Peter Schmeichel went into the game having kept clean sheets in five of the previous nine. Nobody expected the floodgates to open in this crucial game. But after just 12 minutes Newcastle were ahead. A Darren Peacock header led to a goalmouth scramble and it seemed unclear whether the ball had crossed the line. The referee gave the goal and television replays proved he was right to do so. There was no arguing with David Ginola’s outrageous second goal. The Frenchman received the ball on the edge of the box with his back to goal. He turned and unleashed a shot that flew past the big Dane in goal and ensured the magpies went in ahead at the break.
The second half was more of the same. The Manchester United rear guard were finding it hard to deal with the physical presence of Shearer and Ferdinand. On this occasion, Shearer made a run down the wing before picking out his strike partner with a marvelous cross. Ferdinand did what he spent most of his career doing and met the cross, powering a thunderous header into the goal. Shearer himself would get on the scoresheet soon after when he was the first to react to a loose ball in the six-yard box. Newcastle fans could be forgiven for thinking that it couldn’t get any better but there was time for one more piece of magic.
The best, as they say, had been left for last. Following nice possession interplay by the Magpies, Belgian centre-back Phileppe Albert collected the ball and took a few strides forward. He then proceeded to audaciously chip Schmeichel from 25 yards.
Ferguson, never bitter in defeat, would later muse that this was the worst thing that could have happened Keegan and Newcastle. Expectations around Tyneside rose and fans believed they could right the wrongs of the previous season. Unfortunately, this was not the case and Keegan would end up paying the price with his resignation. This didn’t seem to affect Keegan too much, he later said that he could think of “far worse things that could have happened than us beating them 5-0”.
That Newcastle side was one of the greats, certainly of the Premier League era, and they showcased it that day.
Donal Lucey, Pundit Arena.