Yes, it’s twenty years ago next week, the 19th August to be precise when we played Aston Villa away, it was actually the opening game of that season. We lost 3-1 and got out played, especially in the first half. A few hours later on Match of the Day the famous line “you can’t win anything with kids” was muttered after our poor display. How wrong was Mr Hansen, it still brings a smile to my face to this day remembering it back.
I watched MotD that night having not seen the actual game and like most was probably bewildered with our team selection that day. In Fergie we trusted though and we did. It was probably a blessing in disguise in the long run that the likes of Cantona, Bruce, Giggs, Cole, May were all missing – the “kids” got their chance!
They might not of taken it as such on that day in particular, but maybe that game helped them realise further down the line what it took to play for Manchester United even more.
The reason I didn’t watch the game was because it was 3pm kick off on a Saturday and it was 1995, think about it! I did however listen to the game via phone, yes phone! I was a poor student at the time and our landlord had this old type of pay phone installed in our house. You dialled the number, it connected and then you had a minute before you had to put any money in it or you got cut off.
Needless to say I didn’t spend a penny that day, I sat at the bottom of our dirty student stairs and re-dialled over and over again. It was a more memorable game for me for even more reasons. Two weeks later, the landlord turned up with this almighty bill asking who’d been dialling 08 numbers? He’d still been charged his end. All was denied, but a few days later our phone was changed to a different type of pay phone.
I do like Villa Park, I think it’s the ground I’ve been to the most outside of Old Trafford, what with Villa being in the top flight for the whole of my life time barring one season. Then there is all the semi-finals we’ve had there over the years. I wasn’t there for the most famous semi though, the replay in 1999, I had been at the first game 3 days earlier mind. Just think, if Roy Keane’s perfectly valid goal was not wrongly given offside, Giggs would never of scored THAT goal.
I won’t be at Villa Park tonight though, other commitments unfortunately so I’ll be watching it from the comfort of my front room. Which might be a first. As years gone I recall I’ve watched this fixture in many different places, it always seems to be on television. When we won 4-1 in 2007 I was on an all day session and watched around Temple Bar in Dublin. In 2010 we were two nil down with 10 minutes to go, but pulled it back to 2-2, I was another all day session and watched it in Walkabout in Nottingham. Happy memories!
I was at Villa Park last season though, having picked up my ticket from the away ticket office outside the ground. United had introduced that new policy on randomly selecting certain fans to collect their tickets for certain games from the away ground itself.
I remember the game for three main reasons, firstly Johnny Evans making three mistakes in the space of about eight seconds to allow Benteke to score for them. Falcao’s superb headed equaliser and our mass celebrations in the away end. Then Villa breaking away twice in quick succession (as we pushed for the win ourselves) to nearly nick the win in the final minutes. A draw was a fair result on the day.
As for tonight, I think we’ll stay relatively unchanged from last week, I did think maybe Herrara might get a start but van Gaal might leave him now for the starting line-up against Brugge on Tuesday. We’ll see later on this evening now, it’s Friday, it’s matchday. I’m going 2-0 United.