Forgotten men: MM’s top five… unsung heroes from Manchester United’s historic treble-winning season

Fifteen years ago on this day Manchester United clinched the first part of their historic treble by lifting the Premier League crown.

Needing a last-day win over Tottenham Hotspur to secure the title ahead of Arsenal, United fought back from a goal down through David Beckham and Andy Cole to claim the crucial victory.

United would go on to win the FA Cup six days later by beating Newcastle at Wembley and would complete the treble with a stunning late comeback against Bayern Munich in Barcelona on May 26.

There are many standout names from that campaign, from star strikers Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole, midfield maestros Paul Scholes and Roy Keane, to world stars Ryan Giggs and David Beckham.

Many names are missed off that list however, who played a key and understated role in the overwhelming success the club achieved that season.

MM have highlighted some of those forgotten men and the role they played in the treble triumph.

Ronny Johnsen

The Norwegian international was one of a number of players used in conjunction with the rock solid Jaap Stam and played a pivotal role in providing the solid base on which United’s attacking flair was built.

Johnsen made over 30 appearances for the side that season and started the Champions League final at the Nou Camp.

While other defenders such as Jaap Stam, Gary Neville and Denis Irwin received the lion’s share of the attention, Johnsen is one of those individuals that go under the radar.

Johnsen arrived at Old Trafford from Besiktas in 1996 – the same summer as his compatriot Ole Gunnar Solskjaer whose achievements saw him out shadow Johnsen.

Despite this, the centre back left his mark on United and his performances should not be overlooked.

Injury problems blighted his United career but in 1998/99 he was a consistent performer, delivering countless displays which contributed to the trophy haul – with many believing the Champions League semi-final against Juventus was his best performance for the club.

Wes Brown

Brown became a respected figure in his later years at the club, but his contribution to the treble winning campaign is often forgotten.

As a 19-year-old, Brown played 16 times in all competitions including three times in the Champions League ‘group of death’ against Brondby and Bayern Munich.

Mainly deployed as a right back, Brown featured 14 times in the Premier League in what was arguably the breakthrough season of his 15-year United career.

A key player in securing United’s progression through their treacherous Champions League group, Brown’s contribution to the 1998/99 campaign should not be forgotten.

Jesper Blomqvist

The Swede is often viewed as something of a joke figure among United fans, but without him, the treble might always have remained a distant dream.

Blomqvist started 29 games that campaign, most notably the Champions League final, where he filled in on the wing for Ryan Giggs who was drafted into the centre for the suspended Roy Keane and Paul Scholes.

The treble campaign was his only full season at United, as knee injury ruled him out of the next two seasons before he was sold to Everton in 2001.

Despite this, Blomqvist’s role in securing the treble must not be overlooked, as he was a regular fixture in the all-conquering side and was integral to the biggest night of all in Barcelona.

Henning Berg

Another Norwegian who was pivotal to the success of 99, Berg, was the alternative to Johnsen as the partner for Jaap Stam.

Berg’s main contributions to the season were in the cup competitions, where he played five times in the glorious FA Cup run and four times on the way to clinching the Champions League – including a crucial goal line clearance in the quarter-final against Inter Milan.

The ‘rock’ is another whose achievements are lost among those of others in the United defence, but in many games Berg was critical to maintaining United’s triumphant run.

It would be his last meaningful season at Old Trafford, playing just once the following season where he would be loaned out to Blackburn Rovers.

Teddy Sheringham

While Sheringham is a player who is well remembered as one of the outstanding quartet of strikers United possessed, he is often lost in comparison to the other three.

Cole and Yorke scored the most goals and Solskjaer was ‘the super sub’ who scored the Champions League winner – but Sheringham doesn’t get the credit he deserves.

The striker, signed from Tottenham Hotspur in 1997, only scored five goals in all competitions, but netted some of the most crucial strikes.

Sheringham scored the opener in the FA Cup final win over Newcastle and notched the equaliser in the Champions League final – setting up Solskjaer’s glorious winner.

He was one of the most important players in the United team, but his role is often unappreciated when compared against the other starring names of that illustrious squad.  

Image courtesy of Sky Sports, with thanks.

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