1991/92: LEEDS UNITED
When the draw for the two tournaments was held on the same day, only one team was above the Reds in the table and, as fate would have it, we were given two assignments at Elland Road. Ferguson’s side turned on the style in a 3-1 victory in the fifth round of the then-Rumbelows Cup, despite falling behind to a Gary Speed effort. Clayton Blackmore, Andrei Kanchelskis and Giggs found the net and, a week later, Mark Hughes grabbed the only goal in the third round of the FA Cup. Leeds would have the last laugh, pipping United to the final Division One title after an exhausting run-in, but we did lift the League Cup trophy for the first time in our history, courtesy of Brian McClair’s winner against Nottingham Forest.
The Merseysiders were a formidable side in the mid-1980s and they won the league and European Cup Winners’ Cup in this season. In October of 1984, Alan Brazil scored the opener at Old Trafford but the home side ran out 2-1 victors in the League Cup with Graeme Sharp netting and ex-Toffee John Gidman conceding a late own goal. We had better fortune in the FA Cup final at Wembley, despite being reduced to 10 men when Kevin Moran was sent off. Norman Whiteside’s extra-time curler beat keeper Neville Southall to land the silverware for Ron Atkinson’s side.
United met the Gunners in both semi-finals in a terrific season under Atkinson, emerging victorious on the two fronts. In February, a 4-2 success was secured in the first leg of the League Cup last-four encounter at Highbury. Whiteside, Frank Stapleton and Steve Coppell (2) did the damage, with Tony Woodcock and Peter Nicholas saving some grace for the hosts by pulling two goals back late on. The Reds completed the task at Old Trafford, with Coppell on the scoresheet again and, after Raphael Meade levelled, Moran bagged a last-minute winner on the night, to clinch a 6-3 aggregate triumph. The FA Cup tie at Villa Park was a cracker as wonderful strikes by Bryan Robson and Whiteside overturned Woodcock’s first-half effort.