• Rewind to 1993

Dazzling United prove title class

ESPN staff
November 15, 2012
A teenage Ryan Giggs set Manchester United on their way with the first goal at Norwich © PA Photos
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The Norwich of 2012 are a side whose ambitions are focused on Premier League survival, but there was a time when they were title challengers and for a season - big rivals of Manchester United.

When he finally elects to call time on his illustrious career at Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson will look back on the 1992-93 season as the one where his blueprint for success finally began to bear fruit. That campaign saw Ferguson's United end their 26-year wait for a league title, but they were pushed hard by Aston Villa and Norwich.

The previous season, the Red Devils were pipped to the title by Leeds United - having surrendered a position of authority in the final weeks of the campaign. With that firmly in mind, there were many suggesting United would falter again.

Moving into April of 1993, United were the hunter rather than the hunted as they trailed Villa by four points and Norwich by two. The bookmakers had United as the outsiders of the three with seven games to play, ahead of what was felt a pivotal trip to Carrow Road to face Norwich.

Unlike 12 months ago, United had made relentless progress - having been well off the pace at one stage - inspired by their winter signing Eric Cantona. The Frenchman's brilliance allied with the speed of Andrei Kanchelskis and Ryan Giggs, doggedness of Paul Ince, defensive talents of Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister and scoring prowess of Mark Hughes made the Red Devils a mighty force.

The one question that remained unanswered was could they get over the line in the heat of battle? That test of nerve came on April 5 and the Sky TV cameras were there for that Monday Night Football - with many tipping Mike Walker's Canaries, a team containing the quicksilver Ruel Fox and deadly predator Mark Robins, to come out on top. United made those tipsters look rather foolish with a devastating display of attacking football.

A certain Eric Cantona proved an inspirational signing for United © PA Photos
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United marched into Carrow Road with Ferguson fielding an attacking line-up - with Lee Sharpe, Giggs, Kanchelskis and Brian McClair supporting Cantona in attack. And 13 minutes in they got the reward their play merited. In the years that followed, United would forge a reputation for being able to turn defence into attack in the blink of an eye and it was in evidence for Giggs' opening goal.

Roughly 10 seconds before Giggs rolled the ball into an empty net, United keeper Peter Schmeichel had the ball clutched to his chest. An accurate throw found Sharp, who skipped away from his marker before feeding Cantona. Giggs was immediately on the move and he was found by a defence-splitting pass. The teenager was not for catching as he galloped away, rounded Bryan Gunn and slotted the ball home.

If Norwich had the idea to stifle United and hit them late, they were found out and a shell-shocked Canaries were two goals down seven minutes later. And it was again a move of counter-attacking brilliance. From the moment Pallister cleared his lines, the only player to touch the ball more than once was goalscorer Kanchelskis. The Russia international, Ince, McClair and Giggs all hit instant passes which sliced open Norwich and allowed Kanchelskis to gallop clear. Like Giggs, he showed great composure to round Gunn and double the lead.

United fans had barely got back in their seats when they were up celebrating a third goal.

Cantona tucked the ball into the same unguarded net, but the plaudits were for Ince who nicked possession in his own half before driving past despairing tackles in a 70-yard run. He had the chance to take the glory one-on-one with Gunn, but elected to flick the ball to an unmarked Cantona to stroke the ball home.

Three goals in eight minutes sapped the belief out of a Norwich side and dealt a fatal blow to the Canaries' title challenge. Robins netted a consolation and that is all it was, with the result snapping a four-game winless run for United. It prompted newspaper headlines of "United burst back in champion style" and "All guns firing for United's dazzlers" and set the juggernaut back in motion.

What happened next?:There was still plenty of work for United to do, but they followed up the win at Carrow Road with a famous victory over Sheffield Wednesday (the one with two Steve Bruce headed goals and seven minutes of injury time) and ran through their final five games to win the title by 10 points.

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