What happened on this day in football history? Today, we look back on Manchester United pipping Newcastle United to the Premier League title on 5 May 1996.

Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson won a record 13 Premier League titles together during an era of brilliance we may never see the like of again. But as broad as their glory was, the 1995-96 crown – which they clinched on this day 27 years ago – is arguably the success that defines their partnership the most.

Sure, the 1999 treble was spectacular, and staving off the mega bucks of Chelsea twice in a run of three successive title wins between 2007 and 2009 highlighted Ferguson’s ability to rebuild. But, looking back, 1995-96 came to represent much of what his Man Utd were, and what he was.

It certainly wasn’t the case that they were the dominant force all season or anything to that effect. On the contrary. Newcastle United looked near certainties to win the title. Kevin Keegan’s men were 12 points clear – having played the same amount of games (23) – as late as 21 January 1996 and seemingly coasting to glory.

Manchester United Turnaound 1995-96

As good as Newcastle were, the Red Devils steadily chopped away at their lead in the second half of the season. As the tension rose, the mind games started.

Ferguson suggested Leeds United and Nottingham Forest might not try as hard to beat Newcastle as they did the Red Devils, and Keegan famously snapped in an interview with Sky Sports.

“When you do that with footballers, like he said about Leeds, and when you do things like that about a man like Stuart Pearce… I’ve kept really quiet, but I’ll tell you something, [Ferguson] went down in my estimation when he said that,” he said.

“We have not resorted to that, but I’ll tell you, you can tell him now if you’re watching it, we’re still fighting for this title, and he’s got to go to Middlesbrough and get something, and… and… I’ll tell you, honestly, I will love it if we beat them, love it!”

That came after Newcastle beat Leeds, but Keegan’s attempt to heap pressure back on United when talking up the challenge of getting a result at Middlesbrough on the final day of the season didn’t work.

United made the breakthrough just 14 minutes in at the Riverside Stadium on 5 May 1996, David May heading in Ryan Giggs’ deep corner delivery at the back post. Substitute Andy Cole then made it 2-0 early in the second half with his first touch, acrobatically turning in from close range after another Giggs corner was deflected into his path.

Giggs then put the seal on victory – and the title – nine minutes from time in style, blasting in from 20 yards. “Manchester Utd – Carling Champions” read the banner trailing from a small plane that flew over the stadium.

United won their third Premier League in four years, a run that later became four in five.

Most Days Top Without Winning Premier League

Newcastle’s failure was complete.

They’d spent 212 days atop the Premier League table to no avail. It’s still the most time any team has been at the summit for without winning the title. It’s even 23 days longer than Arsenal’s 2002-03 agony – United were the beneficiaries that season, too.

Granted, Newcastle’s collapse was already in full motion; their fate all but sealed. Yet, Keegan’s meltdown has become synonymous with the capitulation, emblematic of the Magpies’ inability to handle the pressure.

While on the flipside, Ferguson’s knack of getting into his rivals’ heads was plain to see and would become one of the facets most widely associated with the legendary Scot – just ask Rafa Benítez

He also did it with a core of promising young players who confounded the doubters. They lost 3-1 to Aston Villa on the opening day of the season, leading to the infamous “you can’t win anything with kids” quote by BBC Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen.

Not only did Ferguson win with those “kids”, he oversaw the greatest points turnaround in Premier League history to win with kids, and it was all sealed in Middlesbrough on 5 May 1996.

Premier League Table 1995-96

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