Villa Park has been a happy hunting ground for Manchester United, particularly in the Premier League, where we haven’t lost since 1995. Retro Red this week takes a look back at what we think are the three most memorable encounters at Aston Villa in the Premier League era.
3 – August 1995 Aston Villa 3 Manchester United 1
‘You don’t win anything with kids’, remarked Alan Hansen on that evening’s Match of the Day following the opening day of the 1995/96 season. Aston Villa had raced into a three-nil lead in the first half against a United team depleted of the senior stars Mark Hughes, Paul Ince and Andrei Kanchelskis. Eric Cantona was still suspended, the captain Steve Bruce was injured, as was Ryan Giggs and Andy Cole. A late consolation from David Beckham was anything but despite it being clearly the best strike of the day.
With all this in consideration Hansen’s comments didn’t seem unreasonable. And although the end of the story is know widely known it was probably United’s immediate response that was the most impressive. Much credit is rightly given to the form of Cantona but United bounced back to win their next five games without the engimatic Frenchman, including victories at Everton and champions Blackburn.
United supporters may not always remember defeats with fondness but the events of 19th August, 1995 are still fresh in the memory for those old enough to have followed the Reds then. It was also the last time Villa tasted victory against United at Villa Park.
2 – October 2007 Aston Villa 1 Manchester United 4
United had struggled to find rhythm after the signings of Carlos Tevez, Anderson, Nani and Owen Hargreaves but this game gave a taster of what supporters could expect throughout the rest of the season.
A thrilling first half saw United score three times – twice through Rooney, once through Ferdinand – to put them firmly in command. Ryan Giggs’ late goal was the cherry on the icing but the real excitement had come in the creation of Rooney’s goals, suggesting that the triumvirate of Ronaldo, Rooney and Tevez could be as potent as first thought.
1 – August 1993 Aston Villa 1 Manchester United 2
If there was a game that encapsulated the best of the early Premier League era then you would be hard pushed to find better than this one. The title rivals of the previous season went toe to toe and put on a really entertaining display from the first to last minute – ultimately, it was the visitors who came out on top, thanks to a pair of Lee Sharpe goals.
Ron Atkinson’s team played football in the right way and it is a shame for Villa supporters that they probably haven’t seen a better team in their colours since – they gave their best in this game but it wasn’t enough, although they did gain some revenge a few months later in the Coca Cola Cup Final. That was just a temporary disappointment as the Reds stormed to a League and FA Cup double displaying the kind of football they’d treated the Villa Park crowd to all the way back in August.