Brucie Bonus: The Beginning of Fergie Time

From the Archives

Date: Saturday, 10th April 1993

Manchester United: 2 ( Bruce 2 )

Sheffield Wednesday: 1 ( Sheridan )

Attendance: 40,102

When looking back on historical matches in the history of Manchester United, what better way to start than the match which put United in touching distance of their first Premier League title, and first top-flight championship for 26 years.

Sheffield Wednesday, managed by Trevor Francis, were becoming a decent side. Only two defeats in their previous 22 matches meant that a visit to Old Trafford, that late spring Saturday, certainly held no fear for the Owls.

A dull first half in which neither side created any chances, ticked to a close. A score of 0-0 and a near capacity crowd at Old Trafford, were yet to know exactly what was to unfold before their very eyes.

The second half began much like the first. Neither team showing any cutting edge in the opponent’s final third. A ball played into the United box in the 60th minute, seemed to have no danger, until Paul Ince brought down Chris Waddle, with a clumsy challenge. Manchester United fan, John Sheridan, stepped up and sent Peter Schmeichel the wrong way to put the visitors one up. The first decision that replacement referee, John Hilditch, had to make after the injury to Mike Peck, the original match referee. The change of official would account for a large amount of stoppages, stoppages which would come back to haunt Wednesday.

United would huff and puff but still, a back line including Nigel Worthington and Nigel Pearson, held strong. England goalkeeper, Chris Woods, was having a fairly easy time of it as United panicked into making wrong decisions. The game and the title, seemingly slipping away from the Red Devils.

Sir Alex would go for broke. Off came right back Paul Parker, and on in his place, captain marvel, Bryan Robson. As the contest rolled toward the 90 minute mark, the fans and team began to click into gear. The Stretford End, now in fine voice, willing the ball into the Sheffield Wednesday net. Wave after wave of United attacks, battered an already tired Wednesday defence. Mark Hughes, single-handedly running the ball through a forest of players before unleashing a shot in which Chris Woods was equal too. The resulting corner was swung out by Denis Irwin and waiting by the penalty spot was Steve Bruce, who glanced the ball into the far corner. The stadium erupted.

United had salvaged a point, or so they thought. In what was soon to be known as “Fergie time”, United kept pushing forward, Wednesday denying them again and again. But still, United kept on knocking on the door. The pressure was relentless. Wednesday were looking towards the referee, to save them from this barrage of attack, but the ref was happy to let play carry on. Time added on for the earlier injury to Mike Peck, and the change of official.

Another corner to United and with the game ticking into the 96th minute, a half cleared corner was sent back into the box from Gary Pallister of all people, flicked up off of Worthington, and in came Steve Bruce again. This time a bullet header past Chris Woods and into the bottom corner. Cue Brian Kidd and Sir Alex Ferguson, dancing on the touch line. A 2-1 victory, snatched from the jaws of defeat in six added on minutes.

Bruce.. Yes! Unbelievable. – Barry Davies, BBC Commentator

United would go on to lift the title, pipping ex-United boss, Ron Atkinson, at Aston Villa. The first of a remarkable run of Premier League titles. And what a way to do it.

Manchester United: Schmeichel; Parker, Pallister, Bruce, Irwin; Sharpe, Ince, McClair, Giggs; Cantona, Hughes.
Sheffield Wednesday: Woods; Nilsson, Anderson, Palmer, King; Sheridan, Worthington, Wilson, Watson; Waddle, Jemson.

About the Author

John McNicoll
Southern Red and Football enthusiast.