Love of a 20LEgend

Before Christmas I was contacted by @blissbubbley, writer and editor for Manchester United blog The Faithful to see if I was interested in writing an article on my personal memories of Solskjaer. I was so excited, I sat down at my computer straight away and started to type. Below is my submission as published on The Faithful blog today.

In November 1998, at Loughborough University a beautiful relationship started between a young girl named Polly and a young boy named Darren. They instantly hit it off based on the solid foundation that the pair were extremely passionate Manchester United supporters.

A favourite pastime for many “Lufbra” students, aside from quaffing pint after pint of Purple Nasty, would be a trip by train on a Saturday for a spot of shopping and drinking in Nottingham.

Saturday February 6th 1999 was much like any other Saturday, expect this time Polly and I had a lift into Nottingham off a friend who was lucky enough to have a car at university. We parked in the park-and-ride a few miles out from the city centre and boarded the bus. Polly and I took our seats behind an older woman sat with, what turned out to be, her grandson. We overheard the grandson enquire “Manchester United are in town today aren’t they Grandma?”, “Yes, they are” replied Grandma. Polly and I quickly decided that we’d miss out on the shopping and drinking in favour of walking down to the ground in the hope that we could perhaps get a ticket or at least catch a glimpse of our heroes.

As we approached the ground there was a real buzz, Manchester United were sat on top of the table and although Nottingham Forest were indeed a big club they were rooted to the bottom of the Premier League Table on only 16 points, under the newly appointed, former Manchester United manager, “Big” Ron Atkinson.

Polly and I wandered to the ground and headed straight to the ticket office, which I remember being quite a small hut-like building. As we entered the hut, a Manchester United Supporters Club coach pulled up and guy from the coach walked into the ticket office and declared that 4 people hadn’t turned up for the trip so he was returning their tickets! We couldn’t believe our luck and immediately bought 2 of the returned tickets!

We entered the ground early and as usual the travelling fans were in fine voice mocking the misfortunes of our opposition, celebrating in the fact we were top of the league.

I clearly remember Forest announcing over the tannoy system that season tickets for the remainder of the season were on sale for only £60.

The games started brightly with Dwight Yorke scoring after only 2 minutes. Forest equalised minutes later before Andy (Andrew) Cole immediately put United in the lead again. From that point on the first half wasn’t too eventful and the score remained 1-2 at the half-time interval.

It didn’t take too long into the second half to extend our lead with Cole getting his second and 15 minuntes later Yorke got his brace, making it 4-1.

So with the score at 1-4, Fergie decides to make a double substitution taking Keane and Yorke off for John Curtis and Ole Gunnar Solskjær respectively.

It later transpired in the post match interview that Ole had been given the instruction from Jim Ryan to “play it nice and simple because we don’t need more goals.” Ole took heed for only 8 minutes before he unleashed one of the most memorable 11 minute performances of his career.

The Baby-Faced Assassin went on a killing spree and bagged 4 goals in only 11 minutes to well and truly put an end to Nottingham Forest tenure in the top flight, something that they still haven’t yet managed to recover from.

His first goal of the game came on 80 minutes when David Beckham spotted the overlaping run from the youthful Gary Neville who slid the ball across the box for Solskjær to easily tap in at the far post.

Number two came on 88 minutes, Solskjær attempted a lob over Dave Beasant who could only parry the ball back to Solskjær who cooly flicked the ball round the keeper to sweetly strike the ball from the edge of the area into the top near-side corner of the goal.

Solskjær completed his hat-trick on 90 minutes with in my opinion, the best goal of the game, Scholes played a one-two pass with Blomqvist before hitting a beautiful feigned-shot pass to Solskjær who controlled the ball with his left foot before smashing a volley with his right foot in to the Forest goal.

Ole wasn’t done there, with the game now in injury time and United already having put 7 goals passed the dejected relegation-stricken Forest, Nicky Butt squared the ball across the box, Paul Scholes uncharacteristically mis-timed his shot only for the ball to bobble to the feet of the predator Solskjær who adjusted his feet and slotted the ball home for his fourth of the game and United’s eighth.

As mentioned above, in the post match interview Ole said “Jim Ryan told me to play it nice and simple because we don’t need more goals. Of course, I don’t like to do it this way.”

Ole had been linked with Spurs at the start of that season and although Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur had agreed a fee, Ole decided against the move, following a crucial conversation with The Gaffer, he pledged his future at Old Trafford. This would prove to be one of the best decisions of Fergie’s career as Ole went on to play a major role in all three competitions helping United achieve the illustrious treble.

In that magical 1998/99 season, not only did I meet and fall in love with my wife Polly, I fell in love with watching live football and in particular, the baby-faced assassin, super-sub, Ole Gunnar Solskjær.

Please take the time to take a look at The Faithful, which a great Manchester United blog with an excellent bunch of writers contributing to it. I would like to thank them for using my piece on their site.

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