Three-nil down at half-time; you can only imagine the rollicking Sir Alex Ferguson must’ve dished out to his faltering players.
Tottenham Hotspur lead at the break thanks to goals from Dean Richards — making his debut after an £8.1 million transfer from Southampton — Christian Zeige and Les Ferdinand, to the jubilation of the White Hart Lane crowd.
Manchester United were absolutely not at the races in the first-half. Disjointed, limp and completely clueless, it was a distaster of a display.
United boss Ferguson was famous for his ‘hairdryer’ — the euphemysm given to the terrifying rage that the legendary Scot would unleash upon under-performing players. And boy were these guys under-performing.
You can question Fergie’s motivational methods — imagine your boss screaming at you, an inch from your face, because you’d made a mistake at work — but you can’t dispute the efficacy of his ways.
The United players looked sheepish as they entered the tunnel at half-time, but by the time they’d re-emerged, by hook or by crook, they had found their purpose.
On came Mikael Silvestre in place of Dennis Irwin to add some pace down the left-flank, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced Nicky Butt to form a front-three with Ruud van Nistelrooy and Andy Cole.
This was not a subtle tactical shift from Ferguson, it was an effort to pack fast, attacking players into the line-up and hope to overwhelm the home side.
Within a minute of the restart, Cole headed in a Gary Neville cross to get United up and running.
When Laurent Blanc powered home a header from David Beckham’s corner, Spurs began to look visibly shaken — maybe we could nick a draw here.
With 18 minutes to play, van Nistelrooy draws the Red Devils level, another header.
Then four minutes later the turn-around is complete as Juan Sebastian Veron, who had been excellent as the creative force in midfield during this second-half, latches onto a Solskjaer lay-off to fire in a left-footed effort.
Then, in the 87th minute, the icing on the cake: David Beckham chests down a pass from Solskjaer on the edge of the penalty area and rifles a shot past Spurs’ goalkeeper Neil Sullivan.
The epic comeback from 3-0 down to win 5-3 epitomised the never-say-die attitude that had become the hallmark of United under Ferguson.