Manchester United legend Sir Alex Ferguson's 'surprisingly relaxed' Newcastle United admission


Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that the build-up to the 1999 FA Cup final against Newcastle United was 'surprisingly relaxed' for his Manchester United side.

The two teams met at the old Wembley a quarter of a century ago and the stakes were high. Newcastle were bidding to win their first domestic trophy since 1955; Manchester United were attempting to take another step towards a historic treble.

Stephen Glass, who came on that day, recalled to ChronicleLive how Newcastle boss Ruud Gullit told the squad they were 'going to be heroes' as the Dutchman attempted to 'create a positive mindset in a group of players who are going to play a team that wins the treble'. Gullit, who guided Chelsea to cup glory two years previously, even reminded the group of the nine finals he won as a player.

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A remarkably calm Gullit did not get off the team bus at Wembley until he finished a game of cards with his staff, but Manchester United, who also had a Champions League final to contend with a few days later, were not exactly feeling the pressure, either.

"Having won the league against Tottenham, the build-up going into the cup final against Newcastle was surprisingly relaxed," Sir Alex told Amazon Prime Video. "Because we had got something behind us."

Manchester United went on to win the game 2-0 thanks to goals from Teddy Sheringham and Paul Scholes. However, even in defeat, thousands of Geordies lined the streets to welcome Newcastle players and staff home. That was something Warren Barton never forgot.

"We got told we were going to do a parade and you thought, 'Wow,'" the former defender previously told ChronicleLive. "For them to come out and celebrate us was a bit surreal. I can't imagine any other club doing that. We were a little bit, 'We lost, we let you down. We got to a final which was great but we wanted to win it for you like we wanted to win the title in '96 and the FA Cup in '98.

"That's why all of us, whether it's at the beginning with Philippe Albert and Les Ferdinand and then you go to Gary Speed and Alan Shearer and that generation, we all appreciated what they were like.

"We played for other clubs and no other fans in the country would do that and do it with a smile on their face and with passion and love and just wanting to celebrate what we had achieved. That's why all of us now think, 'We wish we would have won something.' Not for me to pull out the medal to show the kids or anything like that - but for them."