Manchester United Premier League history through the decades: King Eric in trouble again

Our Manchester United Premier League history archive delves into the Red Devils' most memorable moments from this month 10, 20 and 30 years ago.

From ‘Fergie Time’ winners to infamous half time tunnel spats against Arsenal’s invincibles, United have delivered unrivalled entertainment in England’s top flight.

With some big matches upcoming for the Red Devils in March, we evaluate the chances of these memorable events repeating this month.

Cantona 1994
Eric Cantona saw red three times in his Man United career – Photo by Icon Sport

Manchester United Premier League history – Memorable March moments

1994: Eric Cantona sees red at Swindon

Man United hoped to exceed their pre-match favourite status at Swindon on March 20, 1994. Within 13 minutes, Roy Keane put the Red Devils in front and it looked like Sir Alex Ferguson’s side would dominate proceedings.

Swindon suddenly hit back with a Luc Nijholt equaliser and the match quickly became hostile, until Paul Ince restored the lead for his side with 30 minutes remaining.

All the Red Devils had to do was see out the match and leave a fervent County Ground with three points. That ploy crumbled when Eric Cantona lost his temper after several hefty Swindon challenges and retaliated by stamping on Swindon midfielder George Moncur.

The aloof Frenchman was subsequently dismissed, and the Robins received an instant surge in confidence, eventually leading to Jan Age Fjortoft’s 83rd-minute equaliser.

While current United captain Bruno Fernandes may not have the same level of hot-headedness that led to Cantona's three Premier League career red cards, the Portuguese does have an aggressive side to his game.

Fernandes has the most bookings in the Red Devils’ squad this season (eight). The midfielder was also cautioned in United’s 3-0 loss to Man City in the Manchester Derby in October.

Fernandes could follow in Cantona’s footsteps and receive a card in the Manchester Derby this weekend, with bookmakers’ position 43/20 odds in this market.

Manchester United Premier League history
Photo by Steve Flynn/News Images/Sipa USA – Photo by Icon sport

2004: United bounce back after derby drubbing

Man United’s season appeared to be unravelling in March 2004. Ferguson’s usually competitive side were eliminated from the Champions League by Jose Mourinho’s FC Porto before suffering a humiliating 4-1 defeat at Man City days later.

Two goals in each half led the Citizens to their first-ever Manchester Derby win at the Etihad Stadium, formerly the City of Manchester Stadium. Only a Paul Scholes’ consolation late in the first half lessened the blow inflicted by City.

In typical fashion under Ferguson, United responded positively and thumped Tottenham 3-0 in their following Premier League match. Ryan Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo and David Bellion did the damage to give Old Trafford a lift following a poor start to a miserable March.

Fast forward 20 years, and United could face another heavy loss to their Manchester rivals on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola’s reigning champions are in top form and have beaten United in their last three visits to the Etihad. As a result, the Citizens are heavy favourites to cover a -2 handicap at 15/8.

Erik ten Hag’s side may instead focus on responding in their following match at home against Everton on March 9. Here, United will head back to Old Trafford with favourite status, and the Red Devils are backed at 6/1 to cover a -2 handicap over the relegation-threatened Toffees.

Wayne Rooney, Manchester United
Wayne Rooney scored one of the greatest Premier League goals of all-time at West Ham – Photo by Icon Sport

2014: Rooney unleashes his inner Beckham

Not all Manchester United Premier League history in March has proven negative over the years. Former Red Devils great Wayne Rooney provided an inspired performance in a 2-0 win at Upton Park on March 22, 2014.

Certainly one for the spectacular, Rooney got United off the mark after just eight minutes with a 50-yard lob of Adrian. Ironically, David Beckham, scorer of the original halfway line chip in 1996, watched on with admiration from the stands. Rooney then sealed the points for United with an easier finish for a second goal on 33 minutes to notch a first-half double.

In the absence of the injured Rasmus Hojlund, one player who could follow in Rooney’s first-half scoring footsteps this March is Alejandro Garnacho. The 19-year-old forward has also produced some stunning goals himself this season, not least a goal-of-the-season contender against Everton in November.

Could the Argentinian notch a brace when United host the Toffees next weekend? Garanacho is valued at 60/1 to score twice before the break against Everton.

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Alex Waite

Alex is a freelance sports writer with experience writing digital news, blogs, features, exlcusive interviews and SEO. He has a keen interest and knowledge of UK and European football, ATP and WTA tennis, cricket and boxing.