It’s 22 April 2013, and Man United run away with the league by some margin (11 points), Sir Alex Ferguson’s final squad easily his weakest ever to dominate the 38 matches of England’s top tier. It was the meekness of the competition at the time, coupled with a peak van Persie, what done it. Captured from Arsenal in the summer, here was a flying Dutchman – and formerly a ‘sick note’ – hell-bent on a first Premier League title after a near-decade spent languishing with post-Invincibles Arsenal.
Not many saw Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement coming that year, but the omens were there in Groundhog Day gloom in the Champions League. In retrospect it’s as if he knew the outfit couldn’t get any further in Europe, that it was time to release himself from continental heartbreak.
That volley, though. In this simply majestic goal the best of the Fergie years are encapsulated – the pure aesthetic qualities of football, the possibilities beyond 4-4-2 Anglo-Saxon ‘hoofball’. Moyes, van Gaal, and the snores of Mourinho, the Red Devils haven’t had a moment like that volley since. Bring back Fergie.