Last updated : 06 April 2004 By editor
From the MEN
Stuart Brennan

NOT a bad afternoon's work, beating the greatest team in the whole history of the entire universe.

And what made the whole experience so much sweeter for Manchester United and their cock-a-hoop fans was that, for the first time in a long time, the Reds were FA Cup underdogs.

Older United fans know the feeling well. Back in the 70s and 80s, when Liverpool were the most incredible team in the history of the whole universe (but actually had a liberal sprinkling of trophies to legitimise their claim) the feeling was fairly common at this end of the East Lancs Road.

To win when you are not expected to win is a richer, deeper feeling than the relentless hammering of the opposition that United have performed for much of the last decade.

And those 17,000 United fans at Villa Park, who were magnificent, drank deep from the rare draught. It was a sweet, sweet taste, made all the more heady by the fact that it flew in the face of what appeared to be mounting odds, and defied the smug triumphalism which has become an Arsenal trademark these days.

United, doubted by so many this season, showed they still have that spirit, a driving force that has permeated Manchester United as a club for the past 12 years.

And with that Red heart still pumping strong, even the pessimists among the United faithful are beginning to believe that this is not the end of an era, merely a transition to a new one, and that the underdog status they felt on Saturday is a passing phase.

So now to the final, and already United, without lifting a finger, have accomplished a football feat that has been beyond the power of Millwall chairman Theo Paphitis and his staff at the London club.

"No-one likes us" the Millwall fans sing, proud of their anti-hero status. Well, on May 22, EVERYONE will like them, everyone who does not have an allegiance to Manchester United, that is.

Millwall will be in the bewildering position of being the ABU nation's darlings, and United, once more, will be overdogs.