In his capturing of history on how Manchester United won the 1998-99 treble, Matt Dickinson reveals how fear of different things contributed to the prolonged success the Red Devils experienced under legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson for so many years.
In an analysis of Dickinson’s account conducted by the Daily Mail’s Ian Herbert, he reveals, among other things, how fear of failure and teammates such as Roy Keane kept United’s legendary players in line, enabling them to win multiple trophies in their careers.
In the highly insightful Herbert analysis, he reveals how the players lived on the edge and displayed a desperate need to remain at the highest level in the sport constantly. At times, this bordered on fear.
Herbert provides this instance: “Some of the Keane stuff was madness. The book’s tale of the feud between him and Teddy Sheringham is extraordinary for anyone unfamiliar with the club at that time.”
“The two nearly came to blows on a team night out in 1998 and didn’t speak to each other again for three and a half years in the same team. Even after Sheringham’s huge contribution to the miracle of the Nou Camp in ’99.”
Ferguson, however, is said to have done a tremendous job navigating the tense climate created by the two giants in the dressing room. Gary Neville described the two, Sheringham and Keane, as ‘not the nicest people to play with at times.’
Beyond Keane, Sheringham was, for large parts of his United career, also not on speaking terms with Andy Cole. Dwight Yorke ferried messages between the two.
Despite all this, Herbert remarks, highlighting the fear of failure that trounced individual conflicts, ” by the end of it all, you understand why United won the Treble; why Neville instinctively ran 50 yards to take a throw-in on the left wing at the Nou Camp which won the corner from which Sheringham ultimately scored.”
“These actions were innate and instinctive, borne of brotherhood and of years spent fearing the consequences.”
While such fear has been lacking at Old Trafford since Ferguson’s departure almost a decade ago, glimpses of it have in recent weeks become apparent in some of United’s new arrivals – Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia.
As per the Mail’s report, Malacia, who is emulating Patrice Evra’s intense resolve, and Martinez’s no-nonsense defending are setting the ball rolling for the Red Devils’ attempt to get back to the summit of English football.
The duo’s approach and work ethic, spearheaded by Erik ten Hag, who emits fear on the touchline similarly to Ferguson, have already started spreading to other players.
“United have burned through millions in an attempt to locate what they once had, but perhaps it was there all along, burnished in the collective memories of one of their greatest teams.”
Fans will be hoping that Ten Hag’s revolution will finally be the era that marks the return of the glory days at England’s biggest football club.