Many of today’s Manchester United fans were not even born when those of us ‘lucky’ enough to get tickets for a 1992 away game to West Ham travelled to Upton Park believing that this was going to be our moment.
The Red Devils had last won the league in 1966/67, but that was all about to change. West Ham were already doomed to relegation, it was going to be an easy three points and although the Reds had already started to get the jitters, losing at home to Nottingham Forest a couple of days earlier, a win would have kept us on top of League Division One, ahead of Leeds United and Eric Cantona, with two matches to go.
Standing there at Upton Park on that miserable Wednesday evening being mercilessly taunted by the triumphant West Ham fans has to be one of the hardest moments a Manchester United supporter ever had to endure. You just felt we will never do it. We’ll never win the league.
A year later, history looked like repeating itself. This time, Cantona was playing for United, but the rest looked eerily similar: early season superiority had given way to erratic form and dropped points as United headed into Matchday 33 – a home match against Sheffield Wednesday – with Aston Villa now a point ahead of us.
1-0 down with four minutes to go and we were all psychologically there again, back at Upton Park in our minds, thinking, here we go again. Bottle job. But then United got a corner and along came Steve Bruce, header, goal. Another corner, there he comes again, bosh, goal, Fergie and Kiddo were on their knees on the pitch, the whole stadium was rocking. There were still five games to go, but we all knew that was the crucial moment – as the West Ham debacle had been the season before.
Steve Bruce’s determination did not just define that season, but many more to come. It changed the course of history for the Red Devils.
Fast forward to the present time and the same questions are being asked – not this time about whether United can win the league, but about whether they can finish in the top four.
Last season with eight games to go, the Reds were sitting fourth in the table but then went on a poor run that saw them fall away and end the season in sixth.
Today, United are still in third despite dropped points against Southampton and West Ham due to our rivals also feeling the pressure and it’s be-all-and-end-all as the Reds head for the King Power Stadium.
Those of us who are still suffering PTSD after that trip to Upton Park in 1992 want to know, who is going to be our Steve Bruce this time? Who is going to drag the rest of the side kicking and screaming into victory?
In 1993, we all looked to Giggs, Cantona, Hughes, McClair, Sharpe or even Bryan Robson coming off the bench to provide the magic. Nobody suspected it would be Brucey. Today we are looking to Fernandes, Rashford, Greenwood, Pogba or Martial – but maybe it will be Maguire, Lindelof or Matic.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man, they say. And as long as there is one Steve Bruce in this Manchester United side, it doesn’t matter who it is.
18-year-old Mason Greenwood has been setting the world on fire for Manchester United this season. But how much do you know about other teenage stars that have played for the Red Devils over the years? Take our quiz below to find out.