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.

TFC’s Bradley: “Responsibility, privilege and passion” on line in playoffs

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 11: Michael Bradley #4 of United States looks on against New Zealand in the second half during an International Friendly at RFK Stadium on October 11, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images
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Toronto FC’s supporters fell in love with the club almost immediately, but it’s taken to Year 10 for the Reds to get a home playoff match.

The latest batch of TFC stars have embraced the battle for relevance, at times even surpassing expectations the lofty expectations of championship-starved Toronto.

[ MORE: Bradley talks TFC renaissance

This is a city which has seen the Blue Jays and Raptors find the precipice of glory in recent seasons, but not reach the apex. The Leafs haven’t been to a Stanley Cup final since the NHL had a whopping six teams.

So winning would be a mighty big accomplishment, right Michael Bradley?

From MLSSoccer.com:

“Being captain or a big player on a team in this city carries an extra weight,” said captain Michael Bradley. “I’ve loved every second of that; playing in this city, for this city, and being captain. It’ll be nights like Wednesday night where the responsibility, privilege and passion that I have for this role will get magnified that much more.”

He has a way with words, doesn’t he? The USMNT captain begins Canada’s quest for a title at 7:30 p.m. ET against visiting Philadelphia.

Whitecaps lock up Welsh coach Robinson through 2020

VANCOUVER, BC - APRIL 5:  Head coach Carl Robinson (right) of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC during their MLS game against the Colorado Rapids April 5, 2014 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Colorado won 2-1. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images
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Vancouver is hanging onto stalwart coach Carl Robinson despite a massively disappointing season.

The Whitecaps were tipped to compete for the Supporters’ Shield, only to miss the playoffs. There were plenty of excuses for the ‘Caps, including an injury to Kekuta Manneh and the transfer of Octavio Rivero.

And Vancouver is alive as the No. 1 seed in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, also claiming the Cascadia Cup.

[ MORE: Nyarko says DC can aim high ]

Robinson has signed an extension through 2020, from WhitecapsFC.com:

“Carl’s body of work over the course of his five years at the club has shown that he is one of the top up-and-coming head coaches in North America. While this past season was certainly a learning experience for everyone involved within the club, we have complete faith in Carl’s continued vision in acquiring the necessary players to build a team that will compete with the best in MLS.”

Robinson turned 40 this month, and has been leading the ‘Caps since December 2013. This is a smart move for both Vancouver and its coach.

PST shortlists Major League Soccer award candidates

New York City FC forward David Villa, left, and New York City FC defender Chris Wingert celebrate Villa's early goal during the first half of the match between New York City FC and Toronto FC, Sunday, July 12, 2015, at Yankee Stadium in New York. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)
AP Photo/Kevin Hagen
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Major League Soccer’s playoff run begins tonight with Philadelphia at Toronto and LA hosting Real Salt Lake, and it also gives us a chance to run down the regular season.

We’ve already discussed several items, including Portland and Columbus’ historic flops, DC United’s red-hot form, pre-playoff power rankings, and predictions.

[ MORE: Chalobah’s double nutmeg ]

But what about the season that was, the one that saw Bradley Wright-Phillips snag his second Golden Boot and Colorado nearly grab a shocking Supporters’ Shield?

We rounded up our staff’s opinions to put together combined shortlists for MLS awards.

Rookie of the Year

Jordan Morris (Seattle)
Keegan Rosenberry (Philadelphia)
Alex Muyl (RBNY)
Jack Harrison (NYCFC)
Jonathan Campbell (Chicago)

Newcomer of the Year

Ronald Matarrita (NYCFC)
Ashley Cole (LA Galaxy)
Tim Howard (Colorado)
Nicolas Lodeiro (Seattle)
Jelle van Damme (LA Galaxy)
Luciano Acosta (DC United)
Ola Kamara (Columbus)
Shkelzen Gashi (Colorado)

Goalkeeper of the Year

Brian Rowe (LA Galaxy)
Andre Blake (Philadelphia)
David Bingham (San Jose)
Jake Gleeson (Portland)
Luis Robles (RBNY)

Coach of the Year

Patrick Vieira (NYCFC)
Jesse Marsch (RBNY)
Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado)
Oscar Pareja (Dallas)
Greg Vanney (Toronto)

Most Valuable Player

David Villa (NYCFC)
Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto)
Sacha Kljestan (RBNY)
Bradley Wright-Phillips (RBNY)
Ignacio Piatti (Montreal)
Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle)

Spanish FF fines Valencia for bottle toss; Chastises Barcelona

VALENCIA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 22:  FC Barcelona are hit by objects thrown from the seats after Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona scores his team's third goal from the penalty spot during the La Liga match between Valencia CF and FC Barcelona at Mestalla stadium on October 22, 2016 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
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Spain’s football federation has fined Valencia about $1600 for the water bottle tossed at celebrating Barcelona players on Saturday.

It’s also criticized Barca’s reaction to Neymar being hit with the water bottle.

[ MORE: Watch the incident here ]

Lionel Messi in particular flipped out at fans, who were furious after Barca scored a match-winning penalty and celebrated near the touch line.

From the BBC:

Spain’s football federation criticised the Barca players for their “exaggerated reaction” and for celebrating in front of home fans, but added “nothing justified” the reaction of the Valencia supporters.

There’s an easy joke to make about playacting/diving here, as Luis Suarez hits the deck despite not appearing to be hit.

But it’s critical to remember that these players at the moment don’t have any idea what’s happened, only that they’ve been hit. And Suarez is covering head, perhaps wondering what’s coming next. Neymar laying on the pitch for a while seems a bit overboard, but I don’t blame Messi nor his teammates for being furious with the supporters.

What do you make of it?