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Man Utd fans, forget your woes and revel in this paean to sporting excellence : 99, review

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Published Time: 16.05.2024 - 02:40:13 Modified Time: 16.05.2024 - 02:40:13

Alex Ferguson and his 1999 treble-winning squad give an extraordinary insight into how they did it – and how it all nearly fell apart Reuters/Dan Chung At Manchester United, so fans of other football clubs gloat, all they have is history

Alex Ferguson and his 1999 treble-winning squad give an extraordinary insight into how they did it – and how it all nearly fell apart

: Reuters/Dan Chung

At Manchester United, so fans of other football clubs gloat, all they have is history. With the team faltering, the manager awaiting delivery of his P45 and the supporters swamped by a torrent of rain cascading through the stadium roof, the past is less a foreign country and more a refuge from a woeful present. And there is no more explored territory in that history than the 1999 season when, under the laser-eyed watch of Alex Ferguson, United compiled a treble of the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League. 

Which might make you wonder what is the point of 99, the new documentary series from Amazon Prime Video. Surely, 25 years on, this is old ground so churned over it is not worth revisiting. To which the answer is: watch this. It is a superb piece of work, informed, smart, filled with the recall of those who made it happen (when getting numbers for critical interviewees, it helps when the producer is one David Beckham). And it is what they have to say that makes this as acute an insight into what forges sporting success as any you will see. 

Take the scene when Phil Neville, United’s then reserve full back, recalls how close he came to messing it all up. We see him watching footage of the FA Cup semi-final replay, when, with only seconds of normal time left and exhausted by the relentless pressure, he lunged in on the Arsenal player Dennis Bergkamp, conceding a penalty. 

: John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

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