Switching focus

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Hughes: I didn’t want to leave United

Once the move to Spain was completed, it was all about getting used to a new league and style of football, something Mark admits he struggled with.

“I actually enjoyed it,” he said about playing for the Blaugrana.

“I’d obviously given indication in the January [to join], Gary [Lineker] went after the World Cup in 86. They signed him after that. And I went there, and the football was different. Clearly, it was Spanish football. It was more technical and due to my physicality, and the way I’ve been able to progress at United, it wasn’t going to allow me to progress in Barcelona because the referees were on to me straight away.

“So I ended up getting to a point where I wasn’t playing like I knew I could play and I was maybe 60-70 per cent of where I knew I could be, just because I didn’t have that physicality to my game. I had a good time there. I enjoyed the city, great city, but football-wise, I look back now and think it was a good opportunity, one that I probably didn’t make the best of.”

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Reds enjoy a first win at another new stadium

RIVERSIDE STADIUM (3-0 V MIDDLESBROUGH, MAY 1996)
To paraphrase Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan, United had to go to Middlesbrough and get something on the last day of the 1995/96 season and, fortunately, we did. With the Magpies just two points behind, the Reds needed a win on our first venture to the state-of-the-art Riverside Stadium to be sure of a third title in four years. Trips to the north-east had often resulted in disappointment, with United winning just one of our last 11 fixtures at the old Ayresome Park, but David May’s back-post header put paid to any early nerves. With Newcastle still level at home to Tottenham in a game which would finish 1-1, the pressure never really felt like it was on, and Andy Cole and Ryan Giggs added further efforts in the second half to ensure Steve Bruce would be lifting the trophy later on that afternoon at the recently opened ground. All together now, ‘We won the Football League again, down by the Riverside…’

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United have the chance to match historical record in 2020/21

It was the eighth time this season that United have come from behind to win a game away from home in the league.

On the 178 occasions in the Premier League this season that a team has trailed at half-time, in only 11 of those games has the losing team come from behind to win. Four of those victories have come courtesy of United – no other side has done it more than once – and two of those wins have come since the start of April. 

Yet for now, United’s squad won’t be focusing too much on completing a season unbeaten away from home, but instead on closing the gap to league leaders City and progressing in the Europa League. The second leg of United’s quarter-final tie against Granada takes place at Old Trafford on Thursday night.

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