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Where Are They Now? Alex Ferguson’s first trophy winners of 1989/90

Jim Leighton

After his wife Linda infamously flicked the Vs at Ferguson, he headed back to Scotland

Having been a core component of Ferguson's hugely successful Aberdeen side, it was little surprise Leighton joined his mentor at Old Trafford in 1988.

During the 1989/90 season, his erratic form between the sticks culminated in a skittish performance in the first match of the FA Cup final against Crystal Palace, which United drew 3-3. Leighton was controversially dropped for the replay, playing just once more for the club.

After his wife Linda infamously flicked the Vs at Ferguson, he headed back to Scotland where he played for Hibs, Aberdeen again (he broke his jaw in the 2000 Scottish FA Cup final) and kept goal for his country at the 1998 World Cup.

Les Sealey

After Sealey died from a heart attack in 2001, Leighton – with whom he'd remained close – acted as a pallbearer at his funeral

In just his third start for the club, stand-in keeper Sealey withstood Palace's aerial battering in the replay and kept a clean sheet for United's 1-0 win. Afterwards, he sought out the tearful Leighton and gave him his winner’s medal. Later, Leighton slipped it back into Sealey's pocket.

Aged 32, Sealey secured more silverware at United when they won the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1991. Sealey then mostly played an understudy role at a string of clubs throughout the ‘90s, before accepting the role of goalkeeping coach at West Ham.

After Sealey died from a heart attack in 2001, Leighton – with whom he'd remained close – acted as a pallbearer at his funeral.

Next: Dolly and Daisy

Gary Pallister

By the time he left in 1998, he was the only player who'd played in all of Ferguson's trophy-winning teams

Despite initially struggling following his £2.3 million move from Middlesbrough in August 1989, and drawing criticism from United fans after a chastening 5-1 hammering by neighbours Manchester City a few weeks into his Old Trafford career, Pallister enjoyed a hugely successful United career.

By the time he left in 1998, he was the only player who'd played in all of Ferguson's trophy-winning teams. ‘Pally’ then returned to former club Middlesbrough, before later popping up on both the BBC and ITV as a pundit.

Steve Bruce

Former Norwich defender Bruce had been at Old Trafford for nearly three years before finally getting his hands on silverware

Former Norwich defender Bruce had been at Old Trafford for nearly three years before finally getting his hands on silverware.

His on-field partnership with Pallister (the pair were affectionately nicknamed 'Dolly and Daisy') was at the core of United's success in the early '90s, and as Bryan Robson's injuries took their toll, Bruce skippered United to the Double in 1994. His famous brace of late goals against Sheffield Wednesday in Easter 1993 steered United towards the title.

Following spells at Birmingham and Sheffield United, Bruce has taken the managerial reins at nine clubs and is currently aiming to rejuvenate ailing giants Aston Villa.

Next: Can you assist?

Lee Martin

He struggled to hold down a regular place during the following campaign as Clayton Blackmore began to establish himself

The left-back enjoyed his moment in the sun by thundering home a winner in the Cup final replay, having broken into United’s team in 1988.

He struggled to hold down a regular place during the following campaign as Clayton Blackmore began to establish himself, and left Old Trafford in 1994.

After playing for Celtic, Bristol Rovers and (briefly) Huddersfield, Martin drifted into non-league football and now works with disadvantaged teenagers in the northwest. But he knows his goal irrevocably changed the fortunes of Ferguson's United.

Mike Phelan

Phelan spent time away from Old Trafford before returning as Ferguson's assistant until the Scot's retirement in 2013

Although he didn't always endear himself to the United faithful with his steady yet unspectacular displays, Phelan was equally comfortable in midfield or at right-back, and proved his versatility in the final replay when he and midfielder Paul Ince switched positions.

Phelan was more of a bit-part player by the time United won the league in 1993, although he played enough games to claim a medal. He left for West Brom, his final club, in 1994.

As he began to garner his coaching badges, Phelan spent time away from Old Trafford before returning as Ferguson's assistant until the Scot's retirement in 2013. He's now trying to keep Hull in the top flight.

Next: First-class delivery

Neil Webb

Formerly married to Standing Room Only presenter Shelley Webb, Neil has worked as a postman and for a transport company since hanging up his boots

The tall and elegant England midfielder made a fine start to his United career, scoring a cracker in a 4-1 drubbing of Arsenal on the opening day of the 1989/90 season.

But a few games later, Webb ruptured his Achilles tendon and was never quite the same force again. That said, he returned to the United line-up for the latter stages of the cup run, and it was his inch-perfect pass that set up Martin's replay winner.

Webb remained a regular for the next two seasons but returned to Forest as United embarked upon their 1992/93 title-winning season.

Formerly married to Standing Room Only presenter Shelley Webb, Neil has worked as a postman and for a transport company since hanging up his boots.

Danny Wallace

But with the emergence of Sharpe and Giggs, Wallace faded from the first-team picture and departed to Birmingham

The diminutive Southampton winger arrived at Old Trafford in the 1989 close-season because Ferguson believed the left flank was an area of weakness for his team.

Wallace was later ousted by Lee Sharpe, but not before he'd contributed two moments of magic to the cup run. His marvellous turn and thunderous finish helped United knock out Newcastle in the fifth round, before he scored United's third in an epic 3-3 semi-final tussle with Oldham.

But with the emergence of Sharpe and Giggs, Wallace faded from the first-team picture and departed to Birmingham. Niggling injuries curtailed his career, and 20 years ago, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Since then he's completed the London marathon and other fundraising attempts to combat the disease.

Next: "Yes Guv"

Brian McClair

After gaining his coaching badges McClair was appointed United's youth team director

Although he never matched his goalscoring exploits from the 1987/88 campaign (in which he netted 31 goals), the former Celtic striker remained an integral part of Ferguson's United for over a decade, scoring 127 times in all competitions.

'Choccy' (because ‘McClair’ rhymes with ‘chocolate eclair’), plundered the winner in a tight quarter-final encounter against Sheffield United and then scored in the Oldham semi-final.

He was later converted into a midfielder and eventually became a full-time substitute in the latter stages of his United career. After gaining his coaching badges McClair was appointed United's youth team director, and then the Scottish FA’s national performance director from June 2015 to July 2016.

Paul Ince

Ince later played for Inter, Liverpool and Wolves and has managed various clubs including Blackpool and MK Dons

After a hugely controversial £1m transfer from West Ham (Ince was photographed in a United shirt before the move was completed, much to the fury of Hammers fans), Ince quickly settled into his midfield role at Old Trafford.

He became a huge favourite with United fans thanks to his biting tackles and snappy passes, but his tempestuous relationship with Ferguson led to him being sold in 1995 after his manager claimed the 'Guvnor' was “a bottler” when it came to delivering in big games during the latter part of his United career.

Ince later played for Inter, Liverpool and Wolves and has managed various clubs including Blackpool and MK Dons, but he’s hitherto failed to replicate the glory days he enjoyed in his United pomp.

Bryan Robson

Despite dwindling first-team appearances, he saw United lift the 1993 and 1994 Premier League titles

Despite injuries restricting him to just 20 league appearances in the ‘89/90 campaign, Robson returned for the FA Cup final – and became the first United captain to lift the trophy three times.

The lion-hearted skipper remained a highly influential figure at Old Trafford; despite dwindling first-team appearances, he saw United lift the 1993 and 1994 Premier League titles.

Robson then steered a rejuvenated Middlesbrough into the Premier League in 1995, but despite some stellar names they returned to the second tier after two seasons. His mixed fortunes in management with Sheffield United and West Brom saw him join an extensive list of former England captains for whom coaching success proved elusive.

Next: Bother in Bavaria

Mark Hughes

Even a spell managing newly moneyed Manchester City couldn't diminish the current Stoke boss' reputation in the eyes of United fans

A scorer of great goals, rather than a prolific marksman, Hughes was brought back from his unhappy two-year Barcelona/Bayern Munich sojourn because Ferguson "wanted to give the crowd their hero back".

In his second spell at the club, Sparky's swashbuckling displays and acrobatic finishes delighted fans, further cementing his legendary status. In tandem with Brian McClair and latterly Eric Cantona, Hughes was a model of consistency during the '93 and '94 title-winning seasons.

Even a spell managing newly moneyed Manchester City couldn't diminish the current Stoke boss' reputation in the eyes of United fans.

Mark Robins

Robins is yet another former Fergie acolyte to follow his manager into the dugout

It's a matter of conjecture as to whether the young striker really saved Ferguson's United career when he headed the winner at Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup third round – but there’s no doubt Fergie owed his reserve striker a huge debt of gratitude after he netted the winner in the replayed semi-final against Oldham.

It never quite worked out for Robins at Old Trafford, though, and by 1992 he was wearing a Norwich City shirt as the Canaries challenged the Red Devils for the title. Robins is yet another former Fergie acolyte to follow his manager into the dugout; he most recently bossed Scunthorpe.

Next: The boss

Clayton Blackmore

Blackmore followed Bryan Robson to Middlesbrough, for whom he played in their 1997 FA Cup Final loss to Chelsea

The Welsh utility man appeared in defence and midfield, and scored the third-round winner at Edgar Street against Hereford in January 1990.

Blackmore enjoyed extended runs in both positions and boasted a sledgehammer of a free-kick, perfectly illustrated by his goal in United’s 6-2 thrashing of Arsenal at Highbury in the Littlewoods Cup in 1990.

Blackmore followed Bryan Robson to Middlesbrough, for whom he played in their 1997 FA Cup Final loss to Chelsea.

Alex Ferguson

United became a football behemoth thanks to Ferguson's relentless desire to win

Five short months after United fan Pete Molyneux hoisted aloft the infamous "Three years of excuses and it's still crap… ta ra Fergie" banner (with United perched just outside the First Division relegation zone), Ferguson finally achieved the breakthrough he desperately needed as United won their 1990 FA Cup final replay against Crystal Palace at Wembley.

With the floodgates cranked open, glory – and lots of it – soon flowed. United became a football behemoth thanks, in equal measure, to Ferguson's relentless desire to win and the Sky money which began to roll in from the mid-’90s.

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Jon Spurling is a history and politics teacher in his day job, but has written articles and interviewed footballers for numerous publications at home and abroad over the last 25 years. He is a long-time contributor to FourFourTwo and has authored seven books, including the best-selling Highbury: The Story of Arsenal in N5, and Get It On: How The '70s Rocked Football was published in March 2022.