There was a happy ending last time United went into the final day of the season fighting for the Premier League title, on 16 May, 1999 against Tottenham...
Having missed the chance to seal the title at Blackburn, the Reds knew victory over Tottenham would bring the Premier League trophy back to Old Trafford. Arsenal hosted Aston Villa at Highbury, hoping for a favour from their arch-rivals.
Far from keen to co-operate, Tottenham fans arrived at Old Trafford armed with placards reading: "Let them win." Goalkeeper Ian Walker almost gave both sets of fans a dream start when his clearance hit Dwight Yorke, only for the spinning ball to defy physics, hit the inside of the post and stop on the line.
One of those days? The early signs didn't augur well as Les Ferdinand toe-poked a 25-yard effort skyward and watched on, as everyone did, in wonder as the ball bounced down and over the line, despite the efforts of a scrambling Peter Schmeichel.
That was the Dane's last telling act of the match as United, shocked into life, began to lay siege to Ian Walker's goal.
The former England keeper, just as Ludek Miklosko had four years earlier, decided that today was the day to have the game of his life. As half-time approached, it took a David Beckham special to finally beat him. Picking up the ball on the right-hand side of the area, Beckham arced a superb effort into the top corner to haul United level.
Sir Alex Ferguson opted to replace Teddy Sheringham with Andy Cole at half-time, and it proved to be a masterstroke. Cole needed just two minutes and three touches to have United ahead.
One touch stopped the flight of Gary Neville's chipped pass, the next brought the ball under control, and the telling touch lifted a delicate lob high over Walker and into the goal. Old Trafford has rarely known such ground-shaking pandemonium.
Having nudged ahead, United seemed to be struck by the precarious nature of the situation and sat back. Nerves were hardly helped by the news that Kanu had put Arsenal ahead against Villa.
Spurs created nothing as United defended stoically, but struggled to find any attacking rhythm. The final half-hour seemed to take an eternity, before Graham Poll's whistle finally sounded to confirm United as champions.
Next stop Wembley, then Barcelona...
Sunday, 16 May, 1999
Manchester United 2 Tottenham 1
Arsenal 1 Aston Villa 0
1. United P38 W22 D13 L3 Pts 79
2. Arsenal P38 W22 D12 L4 Pts 78
What The Boss Said
'When I first came here I hoped for two things: To win the championship and then to win it in front of our own fans."
- Sir Alex Ferguson
What The Papers Said
"Tottenham, the unwelcome guests at an orgy of self-congratulation, played a convincingly straight bat to suggestions that they would opt for the traditional walk-on, die, walk-off final day role so beloved of teams in the comfort zone."
- The Guardian