Fergie’s pivotal moments at Manchester United

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There are hundreds and hundreds to sift through, because quite simply, Manchester United have so many wonderful moments with Sir Alex Ferguson at the helm.

But there have also been some pretty hairy times in his early days at Old Trafford, with United close to relegation and Ferguson under intense pressure just a few years into the job. Good thing they kept hold of the wily old Scot!

So let’s take a look back at some of the defining moments of Sir Alex’s United career.

7 January 1990, Win or bust, Robins saves Fergie: Many people believe this was the game that saved Ferguson’s career as United manager. Mark Robins scored to take United through to the fourth round of the FA Cup at Nottingham Forest, and they went on to win the trophy — Fergie’s first title. The team had not won since the previous November and fans were calling for Ferguson to be fired. Onwards and upwards from here.

2 May 1993, Cantona sparks United’s resurgence: Ferguson produced one his best ever pieces of business, as he signed Frenchman Eric Cantona for £1.2 million from Leeds United. After he arrived United surged from tenth in the table to win their first league title in 26 years. The Frenchman would go on to captain the club and become a legend with United fans.

5 May 1996, You won’t win anything with kids…: Despite successful seasons with a group of experienced professionals, Ferguson took what was deemed a huge risk by many, as he sold Mark Hughes, Paul Ince and Anrei Kanchelskis and replaced them with youngsters such as David Beckham, Paul Scholes and the Neville brothers. His decision paid off, big time, as United secured their third title in four seasons… with a bunch of kids.

26 May 1999, United complete historic treble: Perhaps the crowning moment in Ferguson’s era as United manager, most soccer fans can recall what they were doing and where they were as the Red Devils completed one of the most spectacular comebacks in European history. Two stoppage-time goals secured the UEFA Champions League crown, Ferguson said afterwards, “football… bloody hell.” The European Cup success also capped a stunning treble as United performed the clean sweep of EPL, FA Cup and Champions League titles.

4 February 2002, Fergie calls it quits…then U-turns: It could have all been over a long time ago, as Ferguson announced he would retire at the end of the 2001-02 season. But his United side failed miserably in that campaign, tailing away massively in the second half of the season and, well, Fergie couldn’t go out like that could he? He reversed his decision and the rest, as they say, is history.

21 May 2008, More Champions League success: Ferguson won his second Champions League trophy, after United defeated Chelsea on penalties in Moscow. The Scotsman was delighted to replicate the teams triumph in 1999, as more success on the European stage had always been Fergie’s aim. Many believed after this trophy he may step down, but his desire to lead United onto more success never wavered.

14 May 2011, United break record, overtake Liverpool for 19th title: Now we know Manchester United have 20 English League titles to their name, but Ferguson was desperate to get to 19 and “knock Liverpool off their perch.” The Red Devils’ closest rivals held the record for the most league titles… but not anymore. A 1-0 victory at Blackburn Rovers, courtesy of a Wayne Rooney penalty, sealed the 19 championships, 12 of which came during Ferguson’s tenure.

Podolski after golazo finale: “This is like a great movie”

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Lukas Podolski has won a EURO, a World Cup, and the Bundesliga with two different sides.

Only Lothar Matthaus and Miroslav Klose have been capped more than Germany’s Polish born Podolski, and he received a hero’s send-off from the home crowd at Germany’s 1-0 win over England on Wednesday.

And of course he sent himself off in style with a gorgeous goal.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

Podolski said there were more than 30,000 people from Cologne at the match, where he won one of his two Bundesliga titles.

“That’s when you know where you home is, and that you’ve done a lot of good, also off the pitch,” Podolski said. “That makes me very proud.”

It was a perfect night to say goodbye, and the goal made it almost surreal (Thomas Muller called it “cheesy”).

From Goal.com:

“This is like a great movie,” he told ARD. “We win 1-0 and I score the goal.

“I know I have a left foot that was probably gifted to me by God, or someone up there, and I can always rely on it. I am proud of these last 13 years.”

Feel good hit of the Spring.

Report: Guardiola close to adding $43m Benfica goalkeeper

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Year Two of the Pep Guardiola era at Manchester City could feature another big goalkeeper purchase.

Claudio Bravo hasn’t panned out in sky blue, and Joe Hart doesn’t look likely to be coming back. Wily Caballero is getting the lion’s share of the minutes right now, playing every minute aside from a trio of FA Cup matches since February.

[ MORE: Podolski scores screamer in German finale ]

$43 million is the fee noted by Abola when it comes to the latest target for Guardiola, a neck-tattooed Brazilian by the name of Ederson.

The Benfica backstop, 23, has 20 clean sheets in 32 appearances this season. He signed a new six-year deal in late January, but money may talk here.

Podolski goes out with super goal; Germany tops England

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The highlight of Wednesday’s international friendly docket was Lukas Podolski‘s final match for Germany, and the former Arsenal man did not disappoint his crowd.

But first, Canada plays its first match since unveiling new coach Octavio Zambrano.

[ MORE: Zlatan still bitter with Guardiola ]

Scotland 1-1 Canada

Zambrano saw plenty to like from his new side, as Canada went ahead early with a goal from former Scottish youth Fraser Aird. Toronto-born, the ex-Rangers and current Falkirk man got his first Canadian goal against the team he represented at U-17 and U-19 levels.

Norwich City’s Steven Naismith redirected Tom Cairney‘s shot to make it 1-1 before the break, but Scotland never found its way back into Canada’s net.

Germany 1-0 England

Lukas Podolski scored his 49th international goal in his final cap for Germany, and it was spectacular.

Joe Hart didn’t stand a chance.

The match saw big stops from both ‘keepers, as Hart thwarted Leroy Sane on a second half break after Marc-Andre Ter Stegen defied Dele Alli in the opening 45.

Podolski subbed off in the 84th minute to wild applause, but it must sting slightly to know you finished an illustrious career one goal short of a nice, round 50. We guess he’ll have to rest on his millions and millions of earnings and loads of on-field honors.

Elsewhere
Vietnam 1-1 Chinese Taipei
Philippines 0-0 Malaysia
Cyprus 3-1 Kazakhstan
Yemen 0-1 Palestine
Cambodia 2-3 India

McClean to wear No. 5 in honor of deceased ex-teammate

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James McClean is a colorful personality who doesn’t shy away from strong opinions — he once called Jurgen Klopp “a bit of an idiot” — and the West Brom man is using the big stage of World Cup qualifying to proudly honor a deceased ex-teammate.

McClean has long before friends with Derry City captain Ryan McBride, who shockingly died hours after leading his side to a league win this weekend. Given his age (27), few saw it coming even after McBride admitted to feeling ill after the match.

[ MORE: Zlatan still bitter with Guardiola ]

McBride and McClean played together at Derry, and the latter was excused from Republic of Ireland training to attend funeral services this week.

He’s still expected to play a role in Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Wales on Friday, and McClean will don the No. 5 of McBride. Irish defender Richard Keogh usually wears the number and agreed to the change.