The third round draw of the FA Cup brings to mind the four occasions between 1990 and 1995 when we played Manchester United in the competition.
The difference between those four ties and this season’s is that they were all at Bramall Lane.
The first was in the quarter-finals during United’s 1989/90 promotion season when a suspiciously offside-looking Brian McClair headed the only goal of the game – and this after Mark Robins had crossed the ball when it was out of play.
Three year’s later it was in the fifth round, en route to a Wembley semi-final against some team in blue and white.
This time a fresh-faced youngster by the name of Ryan Giggs gave Manchester United the lead before Jamie Hoyland and Glyn Hodges put United 2-1 up, all in the first half.
“This man’s left foot is magic!” screamed John Motson as Hodges’ goal went in.
Late on Steve Bruce missed a dubious penalty for the visitors,with Alex Ferguson crying ‘unfair’ as Brian Gayle was in the box when it was taken. Hard luck.
Mark Hughes was sent off for booting David Tuttle up the bum in the following season’s third round but Man United still won 1-0.
And it was round three the year later on a Monday night gale live on the BBC.
Early on, Eric Cantona did something naughty to Charlie Hartfield out of the referee’s sight. The wily Frenchman chose his target well – Hartfield reacted but, of course, the referee saw that and sent him off.
Hughes scored then Cantona added a second with a sublime chip in off the bar before posing like the Statue of Liberty.
The last of those games was 20 years ago but it seems like 20 minutes.
For the record, the four attendances were 34,344, 27,150, 22,019 and 22,322. I guess there will be 75,000 at Old Trafford this time.