It was inevitable. Once the stunned silence had passed, someone would mention the last time Manchester United conceded six in the Premier League. I immediately remembered their game against Southampton in 1996 but, really, it was FIFTEEN years ago? Damn. Anyway, it’s rare enough that United get beat, let alone concede six, so why not indulge in a bit more 90’s football nostalgia (the best kind) courtesy of Southampton.
I have some fond memories of Southampton in the top flight during the 1990’s. Well, three memories. Much like Coventry, the Saints were always there without doing much, but unlike the Sky Blues, every now and then they would pull a performance out of their arse that provided some essential viewing. And they had Le Tiss.
The first such moment was Le Tissier’s piss taking double against Newcastle, strolling through the entire team, juggling the ball and puffing on a Monte Cristo No.3, then following it up with a goal so lazy it was an insult to everyone else in the pitch. Of course, Le Tissier wonder goals are not rare items, but pulling off two in one game, such as he did here, is.
The second memory I have was that FA cup tie against Spurs. Saints were 2-0 up at half time and playing brilliantly when Ronnie Rosenthal ingested an Altered Beast power-up orb, transformed into a thunder weredragon, and secured Spurs passage to the next round with an unstoppable hat-trick. It finished 6-2 to Tottenham, so that wasn’t really a memorable Saints performance, but they played their part in an epic match before capitulating at the end.
The third was, of course, the game that has been mentioned a few times since Sunday, when the Saints inflicted almighty beats on Manchester United, defeating them 6-3 (not to be confused with another famous Southampton victory over United involving those stylish grey shirts).
Watching the highlights, one of the first things I remembered about Southampton of old was that weird sloping stand at the Dell, which was about three rows deep in one corner. I am guessing that was because of houses that backed onto the ground, as was the norm with these old stadiums. The Dell was a pretty awful ground by any standards, which is exactly the kind I like, and Southampton were a formidable side when playing there.
They’d spend most of the year recording tame defeats away from home, but always clocked up enough wins at the Dell to ensure top flight football for another year. For a modern reference point replace the Dell with Craven Cottage; Southampton’s 90′s formula has been Fulham’s blueprint for the past five years.
This was a decent Southampton side that beat United: Egil Østenstad bagged a hat-trick, Eyal Berkovic and Matt Le Tissier were full of creativity, and the error prone but rather legendary Ken Monkou was in defence, along with Claus Lundekvam, an unbreakable Norwegian wall of reliability.
Southampton finished 16th and United won the league, so the match wasn’t significant in that sense, but I remember it because it was just as big a shock to see United get tonked like that in 1996 as it is now. Think about it, getting turned over by an all star City team is one thing, but imagine United concededing six against Wolves or Sunderland? Anyway, to the game. Prepare to gasp in amazement as Le Tissier scores an outrageous chip over Schmeichel, and Berkovic’s second is also fantastic. For United, look out for the young Beckham scoring an excellent free kick. And, if you look really closely, you might even see Jordi Cruyff. Ah, the 90′s. I can’t make up my mind if this was a terrible or brilliant decade. But, I do have a sudden urge to play Altered Beast. Enjoy: