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Thirty years ago, Manchester United today defeated Crystal Palace to win the 1990 FA Cup

The league, European Cup, FA Cup and League Cup. For the best English clubs, that’s probably the order in which they prioritize the pots.

Thirty years ago, the FA Cup was the most treasured silverware for Sir Alex Ferguson after an uninspiring run as a Manchester United manager.

It is unfathomable to think that the legendary Red Devil figure once struggled on the hot seat, but that was the scenario during the 1989-90 campaign.

May 17, 2020 is the 30th anniversary since Manchester United won the 1990 FA Cup

May 17, 2020 is the 30th anniversary since Manchester United won the 1990 FA Cup

Sir Alex Ferguson (right) celebrates with Bryan Robson after winning his first trophy at United

Sir Alex Ferguson (right) celebrates with Bryan Robson after winning his first trophy at United

Sir Alex Ferguson (right) celebrates with Bryan Robson after winning his first trophy at United

At this point, Ferguson was in charge of the club in his third full season – after joining in November 1986.

In those seasons leading up to 1989-90, United were in dire straits due to their lofty history.

With bitter rivals Liverpool dominating the landscape, Ferguson managed to push his side into second place in the old First Division in his first full season in 1987-88.

The thoughts of a new dawn were very distant, as the club followed up with 11th place in 1988-89.

The performance in the cup competitions was also disappointing. Ferguson had sent them no further than the quarterfinals in the FA Cup (1988-89), while the best he could summon in the League Cup was a performance in the fifth round (1987-88).

As Ferguson continued his behind-the-scenes overhaul, his transformations were not yet visible on the field. By the time the 1989-1990 season started, some supporters started to show their displeasure.

Ferguson was under heavy pressure as a United manager before taking over in 1986

Ferguson was under heavy pressure as a United manager before taking over in 1986

Ferguson was under heavy pressure as a United manager before taking over in 1986

After beating Arsenal 4-1 on the opening day of the season, United followed with four losses in their next six games – including a 5-1 tear by rivals Manchester City on Maine Road.

Ferguson complained of their injury issues, especially the signing of Neil Webb in the summer, who tore his Achilles tendon while on duty in England, but his apologies didn’t cut some fans. On December 9, 1989, after a miserable 2-1 home defeat of Crystal Palace, the infamous banner calling for Ferguson’s departure came: “3 YEARS OF EXCUSES AND IT’S STILL CRAP … TA RA FERGIE.”

In January, the FA Cup was widely believed to be the Scot’s last chance to convince he had what it took to succeed in England – despite his brilliant career with Aberdeen (more on that later).

For his part, Ferguson also admitted: “Everyone seems to have equated the cup as my test,” he said at the time.

“I can do that because I know I am doing the job well and the motivation of the players is not a problem. We just have to keep going and remember that the game will be just as difficult for Forest as it is for us. ‘

In December 1989, a banner was unveiled at Old Trafford urging Ferguson to leave the club

In December 1989, a banner was unveiled at Old Trafford urging Ferguson to leave the club

In December 1989, a banner was unveiled at Old Trafford urging Ferguson to leave the club

The third round placed them against Nottingham Forest and he backed his words on January 7, 1990 when United managed to squeeze a 1-0 win over City Ground courtesy of Mark Robins’ header in the second half. That goal has since fallen into folklore because of its consequences.

United would win only two of their next nine league games to see them 16th in the table. However, their FA Cup run was still alive after victories over Hereford (1-0), Newcastle (3-2) and Sheffield United (1-0).

They needed a repeat to pass Oldham Athletic in the semi-finals – with both draws extended. After the first meeting ended 3-3 on April 8, 1990, Robins again proved United’s match winner – this time in the 114th minute when Ferguson’s squad won 2-1 three days later.

She saw United reward for reaching the final on May 12 against Crystal Palace in Wembley. Meanwhile, the competition was over and it was another modest campaign in which they finished 13th.

The showpiece of Wembley was therefore the season of United. Ferguson’s defeat and future was uncertain. Victory and a bad season are offset by silverware.

Ferguson leads United out for the 1990 FA Cup final in the replay after the initial score ended 3-3

Ferguson leads United out for 1990 FA Cup final in replay after first tie ended 3-3

Ferguson leads United out for 1990 FA Cup final in replay after first tie ended 3-3

Lee Martin (center) was the match winner on May 17, 1990 with this strike in the second half

Lee Martin (center) was the match winner on May 17, 1990 with this strike in the second half

Lee Martin (center) was the match winner on May 17, 1990 with this strike in the second half

Martin holds up the FA Cup after his match-winning goal

Martin holds up the FA Cup after his match-winning goal

So did Ferguson during their lap of honor in Wembley

So did Ferguson during their lap of honor in Wembley

Martin (left) and Ferguson hold up the FA Cup during their lap of honor at Wembley

A fascinating spectacle ended after 3-3. A game turned upside down saw the management change ownership three times. Palace appeared to have won in their first ever FA Cup final when substitute Ian Wright grabbed his second of the afternoon. Mark Hughes forced a repeat with only seven minutes to go.

Five days later, the replay was not so dramatic. This time, the result was decided within 90 minutes thanks to Lee Martin’s strike in the second half.

He didn’t care for Ferguson, because he finally delivered a piece of silverware to Old Trafford.

The then chairman Edwards later insisted that he would have given Ferguson even more time if they had lost to Forest. De Schot had the pedigree because he had performed miracles across the border.

With Aberdeen, he broke the Celtic / Rangers duopoly by winning 10 major awards for the Dons. That success came from the 1979-80 season when they won the Scottish title – just their second in history. Ferguson had only joined the previous year in 1978.

Forty years ago this month, Ferguson also marked Aberdeen to the Scottish title

Forty years ago this month, Ferguson also marked Aberdeen to the Scottish title

Forty years ago this month, Ferguson also marked Aberdeen to the Scottish title

That was the first trophy from the (judge) government of the Scottish in Aberdeen - he won 10 major awards

That was the first trophy from the (judge) government of the Scottish in Aberdeen - he won 10 major awards

That was the first trophy from the (judge) government of the Scottish in Aberdeen – he won 10 major awards

It was the manager’s first big honor in a brilliant career and this month marks the 40th anniversary of that milestone. Ferguson had many highlights during his tenure at Pittodrie – and probably no more than when he led them to victory over mighty Real Madrid at the 1983 European Cup II.

These achievements ensured that he got United’s job and a trophy-laden spell in Old Trafford that the Triumph of the 1990 FA Cup.

A year later, Ferguson added to the cabinet by winning the Cup Winners’ Cup again and from there they never looked back under the legendary figure.

Robson has the FA Cup - a trophy many say Ferguson kept on the American hot seat

Robson has the FA Cup - a trophy many say Ferguson kept on the American hot seat

Robson has the FA Cup – a trophy many say Ferguson kept on the American hot seat

A year later, in 1991, the Red Devils won the European Cup I in Rotterdam

A year later, in 1991, the Red Devils won the European Cup I in Rotterdam

A year later, in 1991, the Red Devils won the European Cup I in Rotterdam

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