Alex Ferguson’s fierce Sunderland vow and emotional John O’Shea after Man Utd lose the league

Manchester United defeated Sunderland on the final day of the 2011/12 Premier League season, but Manchester City’s win over Queens Park Rangers denied them the league title

Ferguson took the positives from Man Utd's heartbreak on the final day
Ferguson took the positives from Man Utd’s heartbreak on the final day

Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson was visibly upset when his team lost the 2011/12 Premier League title at the last moment, but the reaction from Sunderland fans added another layer to things.

Sunderland were United’s opponents on the final day when a Wayne Rooney goal decided the game in Ferguson’s side. It wasn’t enough, however, as late goals from Edin Dzeko and Sergio Agüero gave Manchester City the win they needed against ten-man Queens Park Rangers

However, the decision of some home fans at the Stadium of Light to cheer for City left its mark on the United manager. He was still thinking about it months later as the Red Devils prepared to take on the Black Cats again, who were pushing to reclaim the title.

At an awards ceremony shortly after the end of the 2011–12 season, Ferguson compared the game against Sunderland to United’s disappointing finish to the 1991–92 season. On that occasion, they were beaten by Liverpool in the penultimate game and narrowly missed out on the title against Leeds United.

“When we lost the league to Leeds United in 1992, the young players came out that day and the Liverpool fans asked for autographs,” he said. “They tore them up, they tore up the autographs, and I said to Giggs and the boys, ‘remember that day.’

“That’s exactly what I told them yesterday; those Sunderland fans were cheering for City – remember the day, we won’t forget that. Well done to the players, fantastic group – they’ll be fine, don’t worry worried about her.” .”

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Ferguson wasn’t happy with the reaction from Sunderland fans


AFP/Getty Images)

So it turns out United reclaimed the title in 2013. However, ahead of the next meeting with Sunderland, the events of May 2012 still appeared to be occupying the manager.

“It’s been a disappointing response given the number of players we’ve given Sunderland over the years,” Ferguson said in December 2012, as reported by The Mail. “Jonny Evans and Danny Simpson promoted her a few years ago.

“It’s just fans. It wasn’t malicious, they were enjoying the moment. Revenge won’t do anything tomorrow. Winning the game is more important to us because after the momentum we got from last week, it’s time for us , to do it.” get started properly.”

O’Shea joined Sunderland from Man Utd


(Getty Images)

Not only had former United players helped the Black Cats re-promote and establish themselves in the Premier League, several also played in that season finale in 2012. Fraizer Campbell started up front, Phil Bardsley at left-back while John O’Shea joined Bardsley on defense.

While some Sunderland fans seemed pleased with City’s league win, the opposite was true for O’Shea. The Ireland international was at Wearside in his first season after more than a decade at United and Ferguson later recalled his reaction to the events of 13 May 2012.

“Half-ready to celebrate, I went back to the dressing room,” Ferguson said on A Night With Rory McIlroy at the Convention Center in 2017 (via The Star). “I will always remember when we went down the tunnel, John O’Shea stood there and almost cried. John was a Sunderland boy [by then].

“He said, ‘Boss, what should I say?’ I had to brush past him as my thoughts went, ‘What can I say to these boys of mine?

Rooney’s win at Sunderland wasn’t enough to give United the title


(Getty Images)

The game against Sunderland also made an impression on Rooney, who scored United’s winner but was angered by the reaction from the fans. In fact, he later shared his thoughts in his autobiography.

“When the games come out I’m looking for three games – City, Liverpool and Everton. This time I checked Sunderland’s game,” Rooney wrote. If there’s one team I want to beat this season, it’s Sunderland.

“When the final whistle blew, we didn’t really know how City scored. But then we heard the Sunderland fans cheer,” said the former England striker after the game.

“It was sad to see because they were supposed to be supporting their own team. They didn’t have the best season so it was sad that they were celebrating like that. It was something that myself and many players will not forget.”

United won both meetings with Sunderland in 2012/13, with Rooney winning 3-1 at home and a Titus Bramble own goal deciding the second leg. Sure enough, Ferguson’s men would take the positives from their last day of heartbreak and clinch the title in their manager’s final season.

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