Fergie’s defining moment came 20 years ago – via a Mark Robins goal
MARK ROBINS’ FA Cup goal in 1990 may not have saved Sir Alex Ferguson’s United career but it bought him valuable time.
Imagine a world in which Howard Kendall became Man United manager in place of plain old Alex Ferguson in the early weeks of 1990.
Picture the football landscape 20 years on ... Sir Howard Kendall, perhaps?
And what about Ferguson? Had he been shown the door at Old Trafford after just three years in charge, how would his career have mapped out as a for mer United manager? Damned as a failure with Wilf McGuinness, Frank O’Farrell and Dave Sexton?
Twenty years ago last Thursday, Ferguson approached the fork in the road that has since defined his career as United’s most successful manager.
It was January 7, 1990, when United played Nottingham Forest away in the FA Cup third round.
Without a victory since mid-November and with United heading for the First Division relegation zone, the word was out that defeat would see Ferguson sacked.
Kendall, recently installed as Manchester City manager, had been flagged up as Ferguson’s likely successor.
Four weeks prior to the Cup tie against Forest, United suffered a 2-1 defeat at home to a Crystal Palace team routed 9-0 at Liverpool just three months earlier.
Mirroring the growing disenchantment towards Ferguson from the terraces, a banner was unfurled on the Stretford End which read, “3 Years of Excuses and It’s Still Crap. Ta Ra Fergie!”
December was a dark period for Ferguson.
Despite the strong backing of director Bobby Charlton, and subsequent insistence of chairman Martin Edwards that Ferguson would not be sacked had United lost at Forest, defeat at the City Ground would not have helped the manager’s cause.
But the defeat never came. A decisive header by Mark Robins, a 20-year-old product of United’s revitalised youth system, secured a 1-0 victory and became forever known as the “goal that saved Fergie’s job”. – The Telegraph