printer friendly version
Manchester United at Old Trafford… there is no more formidable
fixture in the English game, and when Leeds United came out of
the hat as the visitors in the FA Cup third round, there was a
mixture of apprehension and excitement for everyone connected
with the Elland Road club.
At the time of the draw they still had Kettering Town to face
in an Elland Road replay on 8 December, but the Leeds fans had
no doubt they would be the team coming out at the Theatre of Dreams
to renew an old rivalry.
The second round tie at Kettering's Rockingham Road ground on
29 November finished 1-1 after Jermaine Beckford equalised an
opening score from defender Ian Roper.
When the sides met again at Elland Road on 8 December, the Poppies
put up a manful struggle and the score stood 1-1 at ninety minutes.
Former Leeds striker Anthony Elding snatched a second half equaliser
after Luciano Becchio had opened the scoring, but four extra time
goals, including two from substitute Mike Grella gave the final
score an emphatic look.
back to top
Leeds manager Simon Grayson tried to keep his men's feet on the
ground when he spoke to BBC Radio Leeds
after the game: "Players have to got to be focused on their League
performance or they won't get to Old Trafford. Our sole aim now
is our focus on the game on Saturday at Brentford and that's all
we've got to do." Letting his guard drop for a minute, he added,
"It's a game that everyone is looking forward to, a massive achievement."
Leeds had not played Manchester United for almost six years and
had not beaten them since 2002. Their last Old Trafford victory
was in 1981, but Grayson hoped his players could upset the odds.
"We'll be going there to give our best account and hopefully
we'll do credit to the football club and try to give them a decent
game," he said. "We know it's going to be tough but we'll enjoy
it and see where it takes us. "The rivalry with Manchester United
has been there for all to see down the years so the incentive
to get through was massive. This just takes us back to where this
club was not so long ago, and could be again in the future.
"Most of my players won't have been to Old Trafford before, so
the incentive to do well is huge. It's both a big test for them
and a big opportunity, one you've got to go and enjoy because
they might never get to play there again. It will give them a
taste of what playing in front of 60,000, 70,000 is like and will
hopefully bring out the best in them. They should think, 'I want
more of this.'
"I remember playing there for Leicester in the Carling Cup. We
were 4-0 down inside 20 minutes. Ryan Giggs had torn me to bits.
He got taken off and I thought, 'Thank God for that.' Then Lee
Sharpe came on. It was not a pleasant experience and it was never
an easy place to go. But it's a fantastic arena, one where you
can watch some of the best players in the world. It should be
a great experience, not just for my guys but for me as well.
"Trying to put a team out to beat Sir Alex Ferguson, the most
successful manager of all time, is something you dream of. I've
spoken to him a couple of times about players and seen him at
LMA [League Managers Association] dinners, but we haven't crossed
paths too many times. I celebrated my 40th birthday a few weeks
ago and guys like him are nearly 70 - so you think about the prospect
of another 30 years of this? It's the desire and hunger to be
successful that keeps him going. Hopefully I'll still be going
strong at that age, too.
"To go to Old Trafford and test yourself, to see how you are
progressing and learning as a manager, is great. Doing something
in United's own back yard would be a wonderful achievement. Chances
like these don't come along too often, do they?"
Chairman Ken Bates pledged to use the proceeds of the money spinning
third round tie to finance rebuilding on and off the field at
Elland Road. He estimated the rewards of the Old Trafford clash
to be around £750,000 and said
he would use the money to bolster Grayson's promotion drive. "It
will be sell out, there is no doubt about that... It will be a
substantial contribution to our income win, lose or draw. That
is very important because we have a lot of things to do. We have
continual ground works to improve the facilities for fans and
we have to build up a fighting fund to ensure that Simon has the
facilities at his command if we confirm promotion."
Perhaps with a touch of his customary mind games, Sir Alex Ferguson
chose to talk up Leeds in the days leading up to the match, expressing
admiration of their resurgence and Grayson's part in the revival.
"Simon's done a fantastic job. He's a Leeds boy himself and a
former player. Some people have targets in life and I think he
reached his target by managing Leeds. He's got great motivation
and his team aren't letting him down. They're playing really well
at the moment. They won't be too far away from the Premier Division
in the next couple of years. With the position they're in it looks
as if they're absolute certainties to be in the Championship next
year, and the motivation and drive that's coming from their manager
at the moment will give them a great chance of being in the Premier
Recalling the time he once got stuck in his car at traffic lights
near Elland Road, Ferguson recalled, "This bunch of supporters,
skinheads, 20 or 30 of them, see me and go 'Ferguson!' and start
running across the road. The lights are still red, I'm almost
shitting myself, they're getting nearer, then the light goes to
amber and [impersonation of a tyre squeal] I'm away.
back to top
"I don't have to spell out what Leeds have meant to Manchester
United over the years. It will be a fantastic, feisty occasion,
just like every time we have met, but it has always carried a
degree of hostility which has meant we have to tell the players
to behave themselves on the pitch because there is no need to
add to the problems off the pitch. Leeds are bringing 8,000 fans
and it is going to be a busy day for the police but it will be
a brilliant atmosphere. I used to enjoy the games, we had some
great games over there. The atmosphere was always electric at
Leeds and our record was pretty good there too."
Henry Winter previewed the game for the Telegraph: "The moment
Leeds United were drawn in the FA Cup against the opposition they
loathe the most, texts peppered the mobile phone of Richard Naylor,
the Leeds centre-half and lifelong fan. So what was the gist of
his mates' messages about Sunday's collision with Manchester United?
Naylor smiled. 'They said: "Go and smash Gary Neville"!'
"As a professional, Naylor stressed his 'utmost respect' for
Neville, Wayne Rooney and the rest of Sir Alex Ferguson's team.
As a man with 'Marching On Together' on his lips and a White Rose
tattoo on his arm, Naylor
understood the supporters' passion.
"So did the League One side's impressive manager, Simon Grayson,
who also grew up following Leeds, when they encountered Manchester
United regularly. Both men know that this fixture is the War of
the Roses with shin pads, that it is about Norman Hunter chasing
George Best across muddy pitches, about Eric
Cantona flitting across the great divide of the Pennines.
It is about the Leeds decorator who refuses to charge for painting
over red walls. It is about fervent emotion and white emulsion.
"It is about a constant craving beating in hearts scattered around
the world, about the texts filling Naylor's phone, about the insatiable
demand for tickets from Grayson's family and friends. It is about
the messages of support pouring into Elland Road and a special
Yorkshire Evening Post web page. It is about fans from New Zealand
and Florida, Dublin and Edinburgh, as well as Batley and Tingley,
pledging their allegiance to their beloved Leeds.
"Above all, it is about memories and hopes, about a faith that
endures through the darkest of times. 'Come on Leeds, this club
will rise again - let's show the Premier League what they're missing!'
read one message. 'Come On You Whites - Give 'Em Hell,' commanded
another. 'Sing out loud and proud for the whole 90-plus Fergie
time minutes,' beseeched another fan.
"Naylor and company may be outplayed on Sunday, Grayson's men
may go out of the Cup, but these runaway leaders of League One
will remind everyone they are marching on together into the limelight
again. New year, new decade, new era.
"However much Leeds supporters may hate the place, Old Trafford
represents a theatre of reawakening dreams for them. 'This is
where we want to be week in, week out,' said Naylor. 'This is
where this club and fans deserve to be.'
"Many of Naylor's toxic texters will be among the 9,000-strong
raucous choir in the upper tier of the old Scoreboard End. Leeds
calculate they could have sold three times their allocation. 'We
have got probably the most loyal supporters in the country,' said
"From Newcastle United to Manchester City via Sheffield Wednesday,
other groups of fans can claim similar devotion during troubled
days. Leeds' collapse from 'living
the dream of the Champions League', as Grayson put it, has
been extraordinary. Point deductions, law cases, relegations,
Manchester United winning another Champions League, the selling
of crowd favourites, debt and near destruction: the litany of
agonies has been long. Throw in Dennis Wise as manager and the
nightmare was complete. Yet the fans never walked away.
"'They've backed us through the turmoil,' said Grayson. 'It does
surprise me. The fans would have every reason to not come through
the turnstiles. But it is the hallmark of a fantastic fan base
that we can take 4,000 on a Tuesday night to Bristol Rovers. We
are taking 9,000 to Old Trafford and we could take 30,000.'
"Naylor concurred. 'A game like Sunday's is almost a reward for
the fans' loyalty after going to some of the places we have had
to over the past few years,' said the defender. 'With no disrespect,
going to many League One grounds is still
a fall from grace compared to some of the big grounds we used
to go to.'
back to top
"Along with Grayson, Naylor was talking at the club's Thorp Arch
retreat, a facility-filled symbol of Leeds' ambition but a reminder
of lingering financial restraints (they do not own the place).
Both Grayson and Naylor embody the honesty, hard work and belief
in Leeds that underpins the club's revival.
"The FA Cup offers an exotic treat compared to the bread and
butter of the League One campaign, Leeds' overriding priority,
but Naylor's eyes still light up when informed that the Stretford
End has been singing even more about its enmity towards the old
"'If you ask any Leeds fan, they like it when they hear clubs
chanting disrespectful stuff about them,' continued Naylor. 'Man
United do it. We will do it to them whichever League we are in
because of that rivalry. It's a proper rivalry. It's not one that's
just come about in the last few years; it's got history. Man United
have gone on to great things over the past 10 years while Leeds
haven't - and there is envy that we haven't.'
"The last Leeds player to score a winner at Old Trafford was
Brian Flynn 29 years ago, so there was something spooky about
Naylor's chance choice of T-shirt. 'Class of 81,' it declared.
'Courage, Ability and Success.' The designer's name will particularly
please chairman Ken Bates and the club's accountants: Replay.
"This will be the first time Leeds and Manchester United have
met in the Cup since 1992, yet in the Sixties and Seventies there
were three semi finals, two of which were decided by Billy Bremner.
"'These are two big teams from the Sixties, Seventies, Eighties,'
observed Grayson. 'This fixture five years ago was a Premier League
fixture. It could have been a Champions League fixture. Leeds
were, not so long ago, a top team. So when Manchester United fans
sing "We hate Leeds" it is a compliment.
"'When teams go from the Premier League to League One as we are
now, that rivalry can dwindle away. So it is a testament to us
that Man United hate us probably as much as they did when we played
them on a regular basis. But whatever our fans sing, Man United
are still the best club in the country. We are not in terms of
where we are at the moment, but we are in terms of the size of
"Sunday will bring some welcome atmosphere to Old Trafford and
some equally appreciated lustre
for the Cup. 'When you see the size of the two clubs and the intensity
of the game it will show you what the FA Cup is all about,' enthused
Grayson. 'I can't believe people don't treat the FA Cup with the
respect it is due. It is steeped in history.'
"The past will invade the present. The Stretford End will sing
of its love for Cantona, whose 1992 switch still rankles Elland
Road. 'It was disappointing,' recalled Naylor. 'Cantona rented
a house not far from me in Leeds and we used to walk past on the
way to school. I was at Bramall Lane when we won the title and
Cantona was on the sideline doing kick ups in front of all the
Leeds fans. He was just adored. To see him go across and have
the success he did was gutting.'
"So much history. Naylor and Grayson derive confidence from more
recent history, from the memory of testing
Liverpool at home in the Carling Cup, of Robert Snodgrass
filling the nightmares of Andrea Dossena, a £7 million Italian
left-back reduced to rubble. 'We have some talented players that
can perform, certainly in the next level, the Championship, and
hopefully in the next level after that,' added Grayson.
"Sunday will clarify the extent of their progress. Grayson hopes
Ferguson will field his A-listers. 'Our players would love to
be playing against Rooney. It would make it even better if we
managed to get a result with the likes of Rooney, Vidic, Giggs
"Grayson has lost his lucky pen but
still maintained his superstition of not speaking to his wife
before away games. He is saving his breath for one final rallying
cry before Naylor and company leave their Old Trafford dressing
room. 'Good luck,' Grayson will tell them. 'And make sure you
back to top
As the day of the Old Trafford contest drew closer, a number
of press rumours regarding the future of Jermaine Beckford surfaced,
with the Mirror carrying a report that the Leeds striker had put
a £2m transfer to Newcastle on hold so that he could play in Manchester.
A 'Leeds source' was quoted as saying: "There is no way Jermaine
will want to miss the chance to play United at Old Trafford. He
might not be a Leeds player for too much longer, but his move
can wait until after this tie has taken place."
The Tyneside-based Northern Echo: "Newcastle have stepped up
their interest in Jermaine Beckford by tabling a £1.25m offer
for the striker, but Leeds officials have rejected their opening
gambit and insisted their club's leading scorer will not be allowed
to leave on the cheap.
"Magpies chiefs made a firm approach earlier this week in an
attempt to tie up a deal before the transfer window officially
re-opens tomorrow morning. Having tracked 26-year-old Beckford
for the best part of two seasons, Newcastle officials finally
made formal contact with their counterparts at Elland Road and
offered £1.25m for the striker's services.
"While the London-born forward has scored 19 goals in 27 appearances
this season, Magpies owner Mike Ashley is reluctant to pay much
more than that for a player who is out of contract in the summer,
and would therefore be available for nothing in June. Ashley is
also understood to feel that Beckford's lack of Premier League
experience should mitigate against a higher fee. Leeds officials
feel differently, however, and Newcastle's initial offer was rejected
out of hand for being too low.
"With promotion to the Championship looking likely given the
11-point advantage Leeds currently hold over the Play Off positions,
manager Simon Grayson is aware of the possible detrimental impact
that selling Beckford could have on his side. Leeds owner Ken
Bates is understood to share such concerns, and it is expected
that the pair will hold out for a fee in excess of £2m. Indeed,
Newcastle could have to double their initial offer if they are
to prise Beckford from Elland Road during the January transfer
Beckford was still a Leeds player by the day of the big match
and duly took his place up front alongside Luciano Becchio. Grayson
could not select loanee winger Max Gradel because parent club
Leicester did not want to see him cup-tied, while Leigh Bromby
was missing through suspension; goalkeeper Shane Higgs and left-back
Ben Parker were absent with long term injuries, Rob Snodgrass
on the bench because of a recent knock. He could, however, rely
on the vast majority of players who had seen United go through
15 competitive games without suffering defeat.
Sir Alex Ferguson paid Leeds the courtesy of
naming a strong starting eleven that included Wayne Rooney among
others, although he was dealt a last minute blow when Nemanja
Vidic picked up an injury during the pre-match warm up. Wes Brown
was his emergency replacement.
There was some disquiet among the home fans, however, that the
manager selected the unproven Gabriel Obertan and Danny Welbeck
as his wide men, leaving Ryan Giggs and Antonio Valencia warming
Wayne Rooney kicked off the televised tie on the dot of 1pm,
but Leeds had the first thrust. They showed no nerves as they
held possession cleverly in the opening couple of minutes before
Obertan broke up their move. As Manchester came out, Darren Gibson
earned some space with a neat turn away from his man. He played
a one-two with Berbatov before trying an audacious drive from
35 yards. It curled narrowly wide of Ankergren's left hand post
though the keeper had it covered.
back to top
Minutes later, Rooney bought himself time on the left to float
the ball cross pitch to the overlapping Gary Neville. The former
England full-back, captain for the day but perennial hate figure
for Leeds fans, was greeted by a wall of concerted booing. The
impending danger was stemmed easily enough and the visitors won
Then came another decent passage of pass and move football from
Leeds which took them deep into opposition territory. The movement
ended in disappointment, however, when Bradley Johnson's overhit
cross from the left sailed beyond the far post to give Manchester
The Whites had settled amazingly well, showcasing their neat
short passing game and demonstrating clearly that they were here
to do more than make up the numbers. But Rooney gave them pause
for thought when he went on a
powerful run down the left, taking on Richard Naylor. The Leeds
captain managed to stay with him but was always stretching to
keep up with the England striker. When he turned back inside to
cross, the ball was plucked safely out of the air by Ankergren.
Leeds continued to go forward and when Johnson rounded Gibson
in the sixth minute he earned a corner after Neville blocked his
cross. Keeper Kuszczak punched the flag kick away under pressure
Still the men in white came on and when Crowe's cross from the
right came in, Beckford controlled it well and spun away from
Neville. He snatched at his acrobatic effort and flashed the ball
harmlessly over the bar, not appreciating how much time and space
Manchester worked the ball across field from right to left and
when Welbeck beat Crowe to find space there was a hint of danger
but his clever cross found no takers and ran out for a throw on
the opposite wing.
But the Reds were enjoying more of the possession now and starting
to find their feet. They were not creating clear openings but
were starting to get on top.
Hughes' hasty 14th-minute clearance down touch bounced back to
Welbeck off Neville and Obertan was given the opportunity to reach
the byline before chipping back across goal, but Ankergren anticipated
well and took the ball at the near post. The French winger was
back again seconds later to send over an inviting cross only for
Welbeck to overrun it.
Within a minute, a long ball forward by Gibson found Rooney in
the clear on the edge of
the box. He spotted Ankergen advancing and sought to chip him
but mistimed his shot which trickled out tamely for the goal kick.
After 18 minutes the Old Trafford crowd was silenced when Leeds
took an astonishing lead.
The Reds' long free kick forward was controlled by Berbatov who
turned away from Naylor on the left. The Leeds captain recovered
to take possession but Welbeck robbed him in turn. Jonny Howson
emerged from the ruck with the ball and looked up to see what
was on before launching a pass fifty yards forward in the direction
of Beckford, sprinting clear of Brown.
back to top
It was a superbly accurate pass, but Beckford's initial control
let him down and he allowed the ball to run loose into the area.
That worked to the striker's advantage, however, tempting Kuszczak
from his station. Beckford was well clear of the chasing Brown
and calmly flicked the ball left-footed under the advancing keeper.
It rolled on unerringly, in at the far post.
As one the Elland Road faithful rose in excited celebration to
acclaim a breathtaking moment.
Things could have got even better within two minutes when more
decent Leeds passing saw Howson get to the right byline and stand
up the perfect cross, but Becchio could only head tamely over
the bar when he should have buried the ball.
Rooney came close to an equaliser in the 24th minute. As a long
clearance came forward he headed it down for Berbatov and then
set off in pursuit of the return ball down the right channel.
Cutting in at pace, he shot through the advancing Ankergren. Jason
Crowe had anticipated brilliantly, however, and was there to clear
it off the line.
Undeterred, Leeds were back again. Howson fed the overlapping
Crowe on the right and there were four white shirts awaiting the
cross. Johnson met it at the far post but could only nod it out
for a goal kick.
This was a bona fide, cracking Cup classic.
In the 28th minute Manchester drove in concerted style around
the edge of the Leeds box and there was a furious scramble with
Whites defenders throwing their bodies in where it hurt to preserve
their hard earned advantage. The pressure was relieved when Anderson
swiped his snap shot well wide of goal.
As the game reached the half hour mark, the ball dropped to Rooney
on the left hand corner of the penalty area. He took it down skilfully
to make a chance but his shot looped narrowly round Ankergren's
left hand upright.
In the 33rd minute Rooney set Welbeck up on the left with a neat
ball into the area. The wide man pulled it back onto his right
foot but his attempted shot was hopelessly wide when three Reds
were waiting for the pass in and around the goal area. It was
a scandalous waste.
Two minutes later a smart spin by Becchio as the ball came forward
on the left took him away from Brown. The Reds defender couldn't
resist the cheap trip which brought the game's first caution;
it would inevitably leave Brown walking a knife edge for the rest
of the contest with Beckford and Becchio always intent on making
life difficult for him.
Jonny Evans nodded one corner wide after 39 minutes when Ankergren
came for the ball but was blocked by Crowe, but that was a rare
moment of anxiety for the Leeds keeper. Manchester were having
plenty of possession and dominating midfield but were struggling
to find any genuine penetration.
In the 42nd minute Wes Brown tested referee Chris Foy's patience
when he crashed right through Bradley Johnson with a hefty tackle;
it was possibly only because he had already been cautioned and
the game was at Old Trafford that he escaped without even a warning.
Certainly, the visiting fans were stridently baying for his dismissal.
The game reached the half time interval with Leeds still that
precious goal ahead and looking worth
the advantage. They had been in fantastic form. As the half had
gone on they had sat back somewhat, inviting the home forwards
onto them, but Kisnorbo and Naylor looked unbeatable at the heart
of the back four, playing with clenched fist determination.
At the start of the second period, Obertan put Rooney clear down
the left flank. He sent over a dangerous centre but Andy Hughes
nodded it safely behind for a corner as Berbatov hovered menacingly.
There were some strong penalty claims from the home men as Welbeck
went down from a shoulder charge by Howson as he made his way
across the box but Chris Foy would have none of it and Neil Kilkenny
brought the ball forward down the right.
back to top
Leeds took the ball on to the edge of the area as Howson cut
inside from the right flank. He allowed the ball to escape his
control at the last and Brown nicked the ball away. As Michael
Doyle came through to take it, the Reds defender crashed over
the ball into him and then stamped all over Howson, provoking
a string of Yorkshire protests. Brown must have had his heart
in his mouth as Chris Foy set about sorting out the dispute. It
was a strangely naive gamble for a player already with a yellow
card to his name. But it was Gibson and Howson who got a lengthy
talking to from the official and the game was restarted with a
After 49 minutes Berbatov put Welbeck away down the right and
he made good ground but his shot was blocked brilliantly by Ankergren
and ran away for a corner. The Reds worked a short flag kick move
but Howson was alive to it and nipped in to take the ball off
Gibson and bring Leeds out. He tried to find Beckford up the middle
but Fabio intercepted for Manchester.
If anything the pace of the game was increasing, but Leeds were
continuing to show assurance and Crowe smartly intercepted one
through ball to Obertan to set his side on the attack. He lost
the ball almost straight away and the Reds came storming forward,
but they were now running into blind alleys. Simon Grayson's troops
were sticking resolutely to their game plan and the home side
were starting to run out of ideas. Their normal zip and creativity
had been blunted by the Leeds tactics as Old Trafford fell eerily
There was some fantastic defending and goalkeeping going on and
Manchester's frustration shone through clearly when Gibson hacked
Johnson up in the air after Becchio had held the ball up well
to allow his team mates to come out. The midfielder's name went
into Foy's notebook.
Richard Naylor quickly followed him when he took Rooney down
as the England man got away from him. It was a calculating 'one
for the team' on the Leeds captain's part.
In the 58th minute, Alex Ferguson sought to freshen up his side
by taking off Obertan
and Welbeck, both promising much but ultimately failing to deliver.
Ferguson brought Ryan Giggs and Antonio Valencia off the bench
in a move designed to stretch the visiting rearguard to the maximum.
As the game reached the hour mark, Andy Hughes was a little fortunate
when his scuffed header back to Ankergren sold him a little short
on the edge of the box but the Danish keeper reached it. It brought
a wry smile from Hughes, but in truth the opportunities for the
Reds were becoming scarcer and it seemed that it might take a
Leeds error to allow the home side back into the contest.
Indeed, it was the Yorkshiremen who enjoyed the following couple
of opportunities, with Bradley Johnson trying long range efforts.
The keeper took the first comfortably and the second flew wide.
Howson gave the ball away with a misplaced pass in the 64th minute
after winning the ball well and promising to come away; the move
ended with Fabio's curling shot dipping too late after a decent
combination with Rooney in the area.
A minute later, Beckford with his back to goal drew another cheap
foul from Brown as Doyle's through ball found him. It wasn't clear
why Chris Foy allowed the defender to escape after kicking through
the striker and Johnson's dead ball effort was comfortably gathered
Valencia skinned Hughes down the outside after 67 minutes but
Kisnorbo nodded the ball away and Johnson showed composure to
earn a goal kick when under close pressure.
In the 69th minute, Michael Owen was brought on for Anderson
as Sir Alex Ferguson rolled his final dice.
Within a minute the former England striker had a clear opportunity.
Rooney's sharp through ball to the right found the onrushing Valencia
and he set Owen up perfectly. Owen swung over the top of the inviting
ball and scuffed his effort. The Leeds defenders stood up well
in the ensuing scramble before Rooney hammered the ball high into
It was a crucial miss and Ferguson's despairing look to the skies
echoed the feelings of most of the home supporters.
Leeds had a chance in the 72nd minute when Becchio chased and
caught what seemed a lost cause in the corner and fed back to
Hughes. His ball towards goal flicked off Johnson's thigh but
Kuszczak collected it ahead of the onrushing Beckford.
In the 73rd minute Ankergren was safe from Rooney's placed effort
from 30 yards and the sting seemed to have been drawn from the
home attack, though Valencia had Hughes where he wanted him whenever
he had possession. If the Reds had used him more readily they
might have enjoyed greater fortune.
back to top
There was some fantastic effort shown by Leeds players over the
final quarter of an hour as they endlessly chased down their opponents
and forced them to go back when they desperately needed to strike
at the opponents' back four. It was a model of disciplined defending.
After 76 minutes Valencia danced away from his man once more
and cut the ball back to Rooney, but
he sent it flying into the crowd behind the goal as the home men
began to accept this just might not be their day.
Almost immediately, Simon Grayson sent Robert Snodgrass on in
place of Howson to give his tiring troops new legs. The change
served its purpose with the Scottish wide man chasing down home
defenders. Then Doyle found Beckford in the middle with a deft
through ball. He controlled it instantly, took it wide of his
marker and got in a tremendous shot which shaved Kuszczak's right-hand
The chance refreshed Leeds and Becchio dispossessed Brown in
the corner to set up a chance for Johnson whose shot was just
gathered by the diving keeper as it threatened to creep in at
the near post.
Amazingly, it was suddenly all Leeds. Beckford, back to goal,
held the ball up again on the edge of the home area. He turned
away from the marking Evans, who tugged him desperately down to
the turf as he threatened to create a chance. Leeds were awarded
the free kick but inexplicably there was no card. Snodgrass took
the dead ball and cracked it against the angle of Kuszczak's goal.
It was a stunning effort.
Seconds later Owen claimed a penalty as a Leeds man appeared
to catch his heels on the edge of the box, but the referee ignored
the desperate appeals.
In the 82nd minute after a cross was cleared by a Leeds defender,
Darren Gibson struck powerfully on the volley but the low shot
flew wide of Ankergren's goal as the Dane sought to show that
he, at least, was keeping a cool head.
A minute before the end of the regulation ninety, Becchio, suffering
with cramp, was replaced by Lubo Michalik as Simon Grayson sought
to protect what Leeds had. Johnson was booked a minute later for
timewasting as he prevented Manchester taking a quick free kick
by holding on to the ball and then throwing it away.
There were five minutes of time added on, though Alex Ferguson
bitterly complained that there should have been more as the Leeds
fans gleefully taunted with massed cries of "Fergie time!"
Owen flicked a header wide of the goal after 92 minutes just
before Aidan White was brought on for Hughes.
In the 94th minute there was a desperate scramble in the Leeds
area after Ankergren saved Rooney's fantastic strike and somehow
the defenders scrambled away the ball. It was the final opportunity
and Chris Foy's whistle confirmed the shock result of the season,
one of the most remarkable in the history of Leeds United.
It was also one of the most chastening experiences of Sir Alex
Ferguson's Old Trafford career, as he acknowledged later: "The
preparation for the game was very good, but I'm shocked by the
performance. We didn't start right and Leeds did... They got their
goal and had something to hold onto. They fought like tigers,
and we expect that with any team coming to Old Trafford for an
FA Cup-tie. It's a disappointment.
"We did speak about Beckford's pace up front. We were caught
napping really, it was a bad goal for us to lose. The whole performance
in the first half was bad. We never got going and the quality
of the passing - the whole performance was just bad. It's one
of these things. We're only human and sometimes you have performances
that surprise you. But we didn't expect that today.
back to top
"I don't think any of the players can say they had a good day.
Maybe only Valencia, when he came on, can say that. Even then
it took us about ten minutes to get the ball to him."
Simon Grayson was as overjoyed as Ferguson was dismayed, beginning
by praising his goalscorer. "It was a good ball from Jonathan
Howson and Jermaine got in there and nine times out of 10 he finishes
them off, and that's what he did. He gave us an opportunity to
go on and win the game from there and with a bit of luck that's
what we did. Full credit to the players, who were outstanding
today, but it's what they've been like all season.
"I told the players that, if you can perform at Old Trafford,
somebody will be a hero. Everybody
talked about Brian Flynn and he reminded me that he was the last
player to score a winner at Old Trafford in 1981 when I saw him
recently. Jermaine Beckford will get the credit now, but we are
immensely proud of our team and what they have done today.
"We knew it would be difficult coming to Old Trafford, but we
told the players to do themselves justice and be proud of themselves,
whether they came back to the dressing room with a win, defeat
or draw. They certainly did that.
"United have fantastic players, but we had a plan to contain
them. We knew that we could deny them possession and that we had
people who, when we had possession of the ball, could hurt them.
"Our keeper made some good saves, but he was not being peppered
on a regular basis. He did what he had to do because he had players
in front of him defending properly and making tackles.
"Our club has had a lot of negativity over the last five or six
years with administration and relegation, so this is a result
for our fans. Leeds is a big club. We are known in Europe and
worldwide for our achievements in the 1960s and 70s, but we are
in League One for a reason. I want to be back here managing this
club in the Premier League, though, and we have to go through
the Championship first to do that.
"From start to finish the fans backed the players and they went
home happy. That's what they deserve. There's been a lot of negativity
around over the past few years here, but they've never wavered
and that result was for them.
"I'm sure there'll be a few hangovers on Monday and I'm not quite
sure when it will sink in. It's a day for the players and fans
to look back on, and full credit to everyone."
Oliver Kay in the Times: "This, to borrow a phrase from a certain
former Leeds United chairman, was living the dream. Or perhaps
it was emerging from the nightmare of the previous decade.
"Either way, a sleeping giant announced its awakening at Old
Trafford yesterday afternoon with a famous victory that amounted
to a humiliation for Manchester United.
"Romance of the FA Cup? There was bucketloads of it here, with
the only goal scored by Jermaine Beckford, a 26-year-old who was
playing for Wealdstone and working as a windscreen fitter for
the RAC four years ago. But the wider context, of
the greatest upset in the competition's recent history, seemed
secondary to the significance of a Leeds victory at the home of
their fiercest rivals.
"For the 9,000 Leeds supporters who travelled over the Pennines
yesterday, this was a reward for all the anguished times... All
of it might have felt yesterday like a price worth paying for
the joy of seeing Leeds dump Manchester United out of the FA Cup.
back to top
"Sir Alex Ferguson said that Simon Grayson's team had enjoyed
the luck that any visiting team needs to beat Manchester United,
but he was just about gracious enough to say that they had earned
any luck that had come their way. He said that Leeds had shown
'a far bigger appetite than us for the game', a damning appraisal
of his players' efforts on an afternoon when they were put to
shame by the resolve of Patrick Kisnorbo, the tenacity of Neil
Kilkenny and the composure, when it mattered, of Beckford.
"Any FA Cup upset these days usually has to come with a caveat,
with the top managers tending to withhold their heavy artillery
as much as possible, but this was a Manchester United team containing
eight full internationals, among them Wayne Rooney and Dimitar
Berbatov, against a Leeds side from two divisions below.
"It was the first time that Ferguson had tasted defeat by a club
from a lower division since he took charge of Manchester United
in 1986. Indeed it was the first time since a humiliating defeat
in 1984 by Bournemouth, managed by Harry Redknapp, that the club
have suffered the ignominy of losing in the third round of the
"Both teams deserved everything they got. Leeds were simply sharper,
more energetic and more committed. With Ferguson losing Nemanja
Vidic to an unspecified strain during the warm up, the Manchester
United defence was caught cold. In the nineteenth minute, Berbatov
and Danny Welbeck were hustled out of possession, Jonathan Howson
hit a perceptive long pass over the home defence and Beckford
left Wes Brown trailing in his wake before clipping a left-foot
shot beyond Tomasz Kuszczak and into the far corner of the goal
at the Stretford End.
"Brown, thrust into the starting line up at short notice by Vidic's
injury, had an arduous time against Beckford, but he was hardly
the only weak link in the home team. Gary Neville, who is not
exactly ageing gracefully, was off the pace throughout, but so
were the youngsters, Jonny Evans and Fábio Da Silva. On the wings
Welbeck and Gabriel Obertan made no headway whatsoever and up
front Rooney, having started brightly enough, had what became
a torrid afternoon, shanking a couple of efforts high and wide
when opportunities to equalise presented themselves.
"Manchester United had enough chances to win the game, but the
overall picture, when it came to the ebb and flow, was of a Premier
League team being knocked out of their stride by lower class opponents.
When the match entered the final 15 minutes, the time when United
would have expected to crank up the pressure, it was Leeds who
looked the more likely scorers, with Beckford again beating the
offside trap to send a rasping shot just wide of Kuszczak's goal
and Robert Snodgrass striking the upright with a left foot free
kick three minutes after coming on as a substitute.
"Leeds were hungrier and more committed. The difference could
be seen all over the pitch, but nowhere more than in defence,
where Kisnorbo and his colleagues simply refused
to yield. Casper Ankergren, a Danish goalkeeper signed from Brondby,
Peter Schmeichel's former club, saved well from Welbeck and Rooney
in the second half, but he was valiantly served by his defenders
throughout - never more so than in the 24th minute, when Rooney's
shot was heroically cleared off the line by Jason Crowe.
"Even as their team edged closer to a famous victory, the Leeds
supporters preferred to sing about their seemingly imminent promotion
to the Championship than about the prized scalp that was within
"Our fans have followed us the length and breadth of the country,
to places like Bristol Rovers on a Tuesday night, when they could
easily have decided they didn't need to," Grayson said afterwards.
"After all that this club has been through over the past few years,
this is for them."
back to top