Barthez, the beginning of the end


By: Manu Tournoux

Boxing Day, the day after Christmas in England, has always been successful for Manchester United, but the Red Devils had taken on water in the den of Middlesborough in 2002, Fabien Barthez conceding goals notably from Alen Boksic and Joseph-Désiré Job. A nightmare match for the 98 world champion, who lost his place a few months later…

Iconic goalkeeper of the French team, 98 world champion and 2000 European champion, Fabien Barthez went from “Divine Bald” to “Fabulous Fab” by joining Manchester United in the summer of 2000. He succeeded as best he could. to succeed Peter Schmeichel, being English champion in 2001 and 2003 under the leadership of boss Sir Alex Ferguson. However, it was a heavy 3-1 defeat on Boxing Day, December 26, 2002 in Middlesbrough, which precipitated its fall in the English North West…

Red Devils supporters remember it very well because their team rarely falls on the famous box day after Christmas. In the wake of a defeat at Blackburn, the Mancunians sank at the Riverside Stadium, first with a goal from Alen Boksic, who deceived his former OM teammate in 93 after being launched by Franck Queudrue. Two other players who passed through the French D1 then escaped Laurent Blanc to beat Barthez: Szilard Nemeth and Joseph-Desiré Job.

Ronaldo buries Barthez

Despite a third place at the start of the new year, five points behind Thierry Henry’s Arsenal, Man United then proved intractable with 15 defeats and three draws, thanks in particular to the talent of David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Ruud van Nistelrooy, the Dutch striker who finished top scorer (with 25 goals) ahead of the Gunners’ French star player.

In the Champions League, United was no match for Real Madrid of the Galacticos, during a memorable quarter-final return (insufficient 4-3 victory), on April 23 at Old Trafford, with a hat-trick from Ronaldo. Il Fenomeno.” It was at that moment that the Scottish manager would have definitively decided to turn the page on Barthez. The American Tim Howard was recruited during the summer and became number 1 two months later and the French international terminated his contract to return to OM.

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