Two teams on very different paths. One historic Premier League rivalry that brings back brilliant memories
Newcastle United v Manchester United, Sunday 6 October, 4pm, Sky Sports Premier League/HD (CH 512/502)
Here’s a stat that’ll blow your mind: there are only six weekends this season that don’t feature a match between two of the “Big Six”. Manchester City and Tottenham’s disruption of the old “Big Four” means there’s always a Premier League blockbuster right around the corner – and we’re certainly not complaining!
But, it’s sometimes quite nice to have the odd week off from top-of-the-table clashes, as it means we get to enjoy something a little different – in this case, a fixture that has as much history and drama as any in the Premier League, and one that still holds huge weight today, despite the gulf in class between the two teams.
Newcastle v Manchester United is a Premier League classic and a rivalry that really ignited in the mid-90s when the Magpies were flying high and challenging Sir Alex Ferguson’s big red juggernaut for the title. Who could forget Kevin Keegan’s infamous “I will love it if we beat them” rant, or when Newcastle stunned everyone by thumping United 5-0 in 1996? (Ole Gunnar Solskjaer certainly won’t, he was playing that day.)
And the fixture is still full of surprises. Newcastle pushed United all the way in a 3-2 defeat at Old Trafford last season, and there was the stunning 3-3 at St James’ Park in 2016. It’s a match-up that seems to bring out the best in the men in black and white. Does former Red Devil Steve Bruce have what it takes to upset the apple cart again?
In honour of this classic clash, here are seven memorable players from Newcastle v Manchester United games past, and what they’re up to today.
Philippe Albert (Newcastle 1994-99)
Then: The centre-back scored an outrageous chip over Peter Schmeichel to cap Newcastle’s stunning 5-0 win in October 1996.
Now: Albert admitted to largely losing interest in football after retiring in 2000. He subsequently spent seven years working in the fruit and vegetable industry. Now, the 52-year-old has returned to the game as a pundit in his native Belgium.
Andy Cole (Newcastle 1993-95, Manchester United 1995-01)
Then: Scored four as United thumped Newcastle 5-1 in 1999.
Now: Cole, now 47, opened up in a recent interview about the health struggles he’s endured following a life-saving kidney transplant operation in 2017. He’s also founded a charity that helps AIDS orphans in Zimbabwe.
Faustino Asprilla (Newcastle 1996-98)
Then: A turbulent talent partially blamed for Newcastle capitulating and handing the title to United in 1996.
Now: Asprilla does some TV punditry back home in Colombia, but much more importantly he also has his own brand of condoms, called “Tino”. The 49-year-old says he hopes they’ll help prevent unplanned teenage pregnancies.
Steve Bruce (Manchester United 1987-96)
Then: A Manchester United stalwart and top-class centre-back who made more than 400 appearances for the club over nine years.
Now: Vanished into obscurity and… nah, just kidding. He’s the current manager of Newcastle, having taken over from Rafael Benítez. With big boots to fill, Steve, 58, has endured a fairly tough start to his Toon career.
Nolberto Solano (Newcastle 1998-04, 2004-07)
Then: A Newcastle legend whose only goal against United came in a 2-1 defeat in March 1999.
Now: Arguably Peru’s greatest English export since Paddington Bear, Solano, 44, spent some time as a manager in the top division back home, and is now a technical assistant to Ricardo Gareca for Peru’s national team.
Mark Bosnich (Manchester United 1989-91, 1999-01)
Then: A dodgy goalkeeper, but the only player Sir Alex Ferguson ever signed twice. Conceded three in an embarrassing defeat at Newcastle in 2000.
Now: Bosnich, 47, co-hosts a sports show on Fox News in Australia called Bill & Boz, along with journalist Bill Woods. No points for guessing which one Bosnich is.
Keith Gillespie (Manchester United 1993-95, Newcastle 1995-98)
Then: The United youth product scored his only goal for the club in a 2-0 win at Old Trafford in 1994, before going on to forge a successful career with the Magpies.
Now: Gillespie, 44, has spoken honestly about how he bankrupted himself through gambling after his career, and now uses his experience to help educate other footballers.
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