Three Days in May: A Tactical Replication of Manchester United’s 1999 Treble Winner

The 1998–99 season was the most successful season in the history of Manchester United Football Club. After finishing the previous season without winning any titles, United won a treble of trophies (the Premier LeagueFA Cup and UEFA Champions League), the first side in English football to achieve such a feat.

The team’s never-say-die attitude, instilled in previous seasons, was key to their success as the players often thrived in difficult situations. The highlight was United’s dramatic comeback in the Champions League final, when Teddy Sheringham and now manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær each scored in injury time to overturn Bayern Munich’s first-half lead.[David Beckham was runner up to Rivaldo for 1999’s European Footballer of the Year and FIFA World Player of the Year awards.

Fans and writers regard the treble haul as manager Alex Ferguson‘s finest hour, although he dismissed that assertion in later years. Tens of thousands of fans lined the streets of Manchester to welcome the team as the season drew to a close. In recognition of his achievements Ferguson was awarded a knighthood, and handed the Freedom of the City of Glasgow in November 1999.

The Players

Taking each of the players one by one, let’s see how each of them translates to FM19:

Peter Schmeichel (GK) – He was highly regarded for his goalkeeping technique, shot-stopping ability, and positioning between the posts, as well as his command of his area, handling, and ability to rush off the line both in one on one situations or when coming out to claim crosses. A courageous and fierce competitor, he was a vocal presence in goal, known for his strong character, mentality, ability to organise his defence, and leadership from the back, as well as for his criticism of his defenders whenever they made mistakes.

FM Role = GK-D

Denis Irwin (LB) – Born in Cork, Ireland, he is best known for his long and successful stint at Manchester United, where he established himself as one of the most important players in the United team that won a host of domestic and European trophies in his time there between 1990 and 2002. He has been regarded by Alex Ferguson as, pound for pound, his greatest ever signing.

FM Role = FB-S

Japp Stam (CD) – Stam played for several European clubs including PSV EindhovenManchester UnitedLazioMilan and Ajax before retiring in October 2007. As well as club trophies, he won several personal awards, including being voted the best defender in the 1998–99 and 1999–2000 UEFA Champions League.

FM Role = CD-D

Ronny Johnsen (CD) – A Norwegian former footballer who played at both professional and international levels as a centre back or defensive midfielder. Johnsen played club football in Norway, Turkey, and England for SemStokkeEik-TønsbergLynLillestrømBeşiktaşManchester UnitedAston VillaNewcastle United and Vålerenga.

FM Role = CD-D

Gary Neville (RB) – An experienced and dedicated footballer, regarded as one of England’s greatest right-backs, and as one of the best Premier League full-backs of his generation, Gary Neville was an aggressive, tenacious, and hard-tackling player, known for his work-rate, professionalism, determination, and consistency as a defender; due to his positional sense, he was also capable of playing as a centre back on occasion

FM Role = FB-A

Ryan Giggs (LM) – The son of rugby union, and Wales international rugby league footballer Danny Wilson, Giggs was born in Cardiff but moved to Manchester at the age of six when his father joined Swinton RLFC. Predominantly a left winger, he began his career with Manchester City, but joined Manchester United on his 14th birthday in 1987.

FM Role = W-A

Paul Scholes (CM) – Scholes was highly regarded for his technical skills, and renowned for his accurate passing, intelligent movement and powerful shooting from long range. Though he played mostly as a striker in his youth and early professional career, Scholes matured into a well-rounded, tenacious, and versatile playmaker capable of playing in any midfield position, often alternating between defensiveoffensivewide and playmaking roles, due to his stamina, vision, work-rate, and positional sense. 

FM Role = DLP-S

Nicky Butt (CM) – He played professional football as a midfielder from 1992 to 2011. He began his career with Manchester United and spent 12 years in their first-team, winning six Premier League titles, three FA Cups, four FA Community Shields, the UEFA Champions League and the Intercontinental Cup, before moving to Newcastle United in 2004. He spent one season on loan to Birmingham City in 2005–06. He finished his career abroad, playing for South China where he won the Hong Kong League Cup.

FM Role = BWM-D

David Beckham (RM) – Beckham’s professional club career began with Manchester United, where he made his first-team debut in 1992 aged 17. With United, he won the Premier League title six times, the FA Cup twice, and the UEFA Champions League in 1999. He then played four seasons with Real Madrid, winning the La Liga championship in his final season with the club. In July 2007 Beckham signed a five-year contract with Major League Soccer club LA Galaxy.[ While a Galaxy player, he spent two loan spells in Italy with Milan in 2009 and 2010. 

FM Role = WP-S

Andy Cole (CF) – An English former professional footballer. Playing as a striker, his career lasted from 1988 to 2008. He is most notably remembered for his time in the Premier League, with Manchester United, where he spent six years of his career, winning numerous trophies in the process.

FM Role = CF-A

Dwight Yorke (CF) – A Tobagonian striker. Throughout his club career, he played for Aston VillaManchester UnitedBlackburn RoversBirmingham CitySydney and Sunderland, mainly as a forward, between 1988 and 2009. He was the assistant manager of the Trinidad and Tobago national team until the completion of the qualifying matches for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Yorke scored 123 goals in the Premier League, a record for a non-European which was not broken until Sergio Agüero in 2017.[

FM Role = AF-A

Put it all together and here’s what we come up with:

The Tactic

Roles from United 99 using the 2003-2004 Database


Results Using the 2003-2004 Squad

Admittedly not the results of the “Impossible Dream” season but not the squad they had either. Still, a solid tactic that we hope you enjoy!

If you enjoy these types of replications and would like to see us take a crack at another, please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments below.

Find me @ericstpeterFM on Twitter

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