Amid the chaos of Teddy Sheringham & # 39; s injury time equalizer for Manchester United in the Champions League final in 1999, assistant manager Steve McClaren sought an urgent word from the boss, Sir Alex Ferguson.
& # 39; I remember telling him that it now seems like extra time, that we can get back into some sort of form and not take so much risk, & # 39; says McClaren.
& # 39; He looked at me and said, "Steve, sit down, this game is not over yet". Sixty seconds later we know what happened. I thought we still had half an hour, but Ole stopped. What a shame! & # 39;
Steve McClaren was an assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson at the Champions League final in 1999
McClaren drinks coffee in the lounge of a hotel in North London, with a spirit that returns 20 years to one of the greatest stories in British sport, perfectly summarized by Ferguson after beating Bayern Munich 2-1 with two late, late goals: & # 39; Football, damn hell. & # 39;
United returns to the scene, Barcelona & # 39; s Nou Camp, on Tuesday night and has to overthrow a 1-0 lead on the first leg of the quarterfinals of this season. At least they have a responsible man who knows about comebacks in Catalonia, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who scored the winner in & # 39; 99 to complete a historic Treble.
McClaren, who later led England and won big trophies with Middlesbrough and FC Twente, was then 38 and had the best seat at home alongside Ferguson, just five months after he was picked out of relative uncertainty as a coach at Derby.
McClaren had the best place in the house for the stunning late winner of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
& # 39; My memories of the Nou Camp are so strong & # 39 ;, he says with feeling. & # 39; Aside from marrying my wife and having three boys, winning the Treble was the best ten days of my life, and still is.
& # 39; The FA Cup final of last Saturday was big in itself. I had never been to Wembley as a player, so I was like a little kid. After the warm-up I got Albert as a kitman to put on some gloves, so that I could shoot a few times on the field.
& # 39; I was determined to let the final of the Champions League pass in a haze. After the final whistle, I stopped during the honorary round to see how the United fans went crazy, they had packed three-quarters of the stadium.
& # 39; I wet it for five minutes and I am so happy I did it. From a football point of view it was like going to heaven. I still have an image of it in mind and I will have it forever. & # 39;
McClaren had joined United at the beginning of the year and it turned out to be perfect timing. He had a unique opportunity to observe how Ferguson led the search for the Premier League, the FA Cup and Champions League, never done before.
Without the suspended Paul Scholes and Roy Keane for the European final, Fergie made up his troops one last time against opponents boasting world stars such as Oliver Khan, Lothar Matthaus and Stefan Effenberg.
McClaren has raised the lid on preparations, such as playing David Beckham in the middle
& # 39; One of the greatest forces of the gaffer was planning. That's why he was able to stay at the top for 27 years at United, & # 39; said McClaren.
& # 39; He watched the upcoming matches. I remember once telling Wes Brown from the next game that he was ready for Arsenal in three weeks. He believed Wes was the only one who could handle the slopes of Thierry Henry on the left.
& # 39; He would have played the team in Bayern long before. We knocked on the door of Dwight Yorke & # 39; s morning of the FA Cup final and told him he would not play at Wembley. Yorkie was devastated, but it was because Fergie needed him for the Nou Camp.
& # 39; Midfield was the biggest dilemma. Ronnie Johnsen could have played with Nicky Butt but Alex wanted Jesper Blomqvist on the team, so David Beckham shifted to the middle.
& # 39; I did the coaching, but the gaffer was the master on the match day. His team discussion was based on emotions rather than tactical details – why this was the biggest game of their lives.
& He said it was like flying to the moon, not many people get the chance, not many people even want to do it, but tonight they can fly to the moon. Were the players ready afterwards? Damn, they were done. The hairs on my neck also stood upright.
& # 39; When we were halfway through, when we were losing, he talked about the Champions League trophy and how it would feel if we had to leave Barcelona without it. & # 39;
McClaren admits he said that United should sit back after Teddy Sheringham equalizer
The spirit of United was legendary at the time. McClaren witnessed the competitive element in training.
& # 39; We practiced punishments at Bisham Abbey before flying to Barcelona for the final & # 39 ;, he reveals. & # 39; We wanted to have it done well in case we really had to take them. Yorkie comes up with a big smile and fries Peter Schmeichel with a "Panenka".
Pete went ballistic and chased him everywhere. He didn't like being chipped and he also felt that Yorkie didn't take the exercise seriously. We sat down Yorkie and asked him if he would honestly take a penalty in the same way in a Champions League final and he reacted fairly forcefully: "I would do it". & # 39;
Matchday itself was a time for the players to relax, but McClaren had work to do in the team hotel: & I was busy writing the set-plays, doing my flip-overs, working out the marking. When the Bayern team magazine was handed in, we all discussed it on the board.
& # 39; Defensive set pieces in particular, they knew what they were doing at the other end! David Beckham had the best delivery in the world and we just told him to put it in the right place. & # 39;
The fairy tale started terribly when Mario Basler scored for Bayern after six minutes. Halfway through the second half, with United still lagging behind, Ferguson pitched at Sheringham for Blomqvist and Ryan Giggs and Beckham returned to their normal flanks.
It left United with only one orthodox central midfielder – Butt – but it was a risk that they felt they needed to take, with Yorke instructed to play a little deeper than normal.
McLaren was taken out of a coaching role at Derby to be Fergie & # 39; s No2 months before the final
& # 39; While most submarines were warming up in the corner until they were screaming, Teddy did his stretching exercises in front of the couch, trying to catch you & # 39 ;, McClaren explained. & # 39; It is something that I also remember from working with Sven Goran Eriksson in England.
& # 39; Teddy came up and it was a bit of a gamble because we were more open. A Bayern counter had made us fear that it was all over, but Mehmet Scholl cut off the post and the rebound fell into Schmeichel's hands. That's when you get this feeling: "Hmm, interesting!" & # 39;
The rest is history. Solskjaer replaced Cole with nine minutes to go. When the 90 minutes were up, Sheringham called in Giggs' shot for the equalizer. Before Bayern was able to recover from the shock, United won another corner, Sheringham turned on Beckham & # 39; s crotch and Solskjaer put out a leg for an instant legendary status.
& # 39; All Bayern players were on the floor – they didn't even want to start anymore. We knew we had won it, & McClaren said. & # 39; It was a chaos where everyone jumped on everyone. I was so proud to have my father and mother in the stadium and my oldest son. He remembers it to this day.
& # 39; Because I was a newer arrival at the United staff, there weren't enough medals for me to get one in the stadium, but during the party dinner that night, David Gill (United's financial director at the time) introduced me one for it. It was incredible – not bad for someone who was mistakenly named Steve McClaridge by the president (Martin Edwards) when I arrived!
& # 39; We had the parade back in Manchester, which was great and then I was ready to leave for a vacation. I was completely exhausted, but the gaffer called the staff at nine o'clock the next morning at The Cliff. So there we were, pots of tea, bacon butties, planning the next season! & # 39;
Ex-England boss McClaren left United for a career in management, most recently with QPR
McClaren left United two years later to become a manager himself. Although his career is framed by a failure with England to reach Euro 2008, his record is much better than what he had the honor for.
He is the only manager in Middlesbrough's history who won a major trophy, the League Cup, and took it to the final of the Uefa Cup in 2006, with captain Gareth Southgate.
He won the Dutch title with FC Twente, reached a championship play-off final with Derby and also led Newcastle, Wolfsburg and, until two weeks ago, QPR.
He passed the baton to another No 2s like Ferguson did with him. His assistant at Twente was Erik ten Hag, now the manager of Ajax, himself quarter finals of the Champions League.
It will be an exciting experience for McClaren to see Solskjaer become the first United manager since Ferguson to lead them to the Nou Camp.
& # 39; Ole was not one of the players that I automatically thought would be a manager, but the characteristics have changed. Reigning with an iron rod is not the way and Ole was a nice kid, eager to learn, knew his role, very modest.
& # 39; The values of the club return. We were a good offensive transition team in 1999 and they are now. Alex always said towards the end of the season that he wanted clean sheets and I think Ole will feel the same.
& # 39; If there was one player from that Treble team that Ole could use now, it's probably Jaap Stam because he was a damn good defender. The best one-on-one defender I've ever seen. & # 39;
United fans traveling to Spain this week will undoubtedly calm their new manager with & # 39; Ole & # 39; s at the wheel & # 39 ;. Maybe Frank Sinatra & # 39; s & # 39; Fly me to the moon & # 39; maybe also suitable for stopping Lionel Messi. It worked for Fergie and Steve McClaren at the Nou Camp in & # 39; 99.