Fever Pitch: The Rise of the Premier League (2021) s01e01 Episode Script

Episode 1

[crowd cheering]
The Football Association
has approved controversial plans
to set up a new super league.
[announcer] On he goes!
[crowd cheering]
When Murdoch wrote the cheque,
everyone said,
"Poor old Rupert's
lost it this time."
[Alan Shearer] How big it was
gonna be, I don't think anyone
could have predicted.
20,000 fans surrounded
St James's Park
to welcome the world's
most expensive footballer.
I would love it if we beat them.
Love it!
[Eric Cantona]
When the seagulls
follow the trawler,
they think sardines
will be thrown.
It's just all money. Each club
is one big theme park now.
[man 1] Footballers became
sort of like
rock stars overnight.
I don't think anything
prepares you for media attention
at such a young age.
[man 2] I look at myself
and think, "What an arsehole."
'Cause I'd let everything
go to my head.
[crowd cheering]
[man 3]
I've got a choice in life now.
I either go back to the booze
and the gambling and the drugs
or I go the other way.
[woman] It's like a religion.
It's something to believe in.
[interviewer] Three, two, one
Doing a documentary for the BBC
on the Premier League
in the '90s.
I know I definitely wouldn't
have been able to do that.
Yeah, let's go.[woman] Okay?
[announcer] Here's McGrath.
Oof, Vinnie Jones
caught him there.
[Jones] When I first played,
there was a lot more
crunching tackles
that you could get away with.
[whistle blows]
You're fighting for every game,
every tackle, every header
every second.
We were more of a borstal
than a football team.
People will go on YouTube
and look stuff up,
and they'll go,
"You was a lunatic!"
And I'll go, "Yeah.
I was a bit lively, yeah."
[announcer] Dreadful scenes
at Kenilworth Road.
Absolutely disgraceful.
Football was going nowhere
in the '80s.
You know, let's be honest,
you know?
There was such bad press,
stadiums were empty,
and I think people were scared
to go to football matches.
They were scared.
It was football violence,
football violence,
football violence.
There were quite often fights
on the forecourt,
you know, regularly.
And your dad was pulling me
and Phil through
at the age of five and six.
It wasn't an environment
for the family to attend.
At that time, it was like
all these intercity firms
going down the tube station
for a punch-up.
[narrator] In the 1980s,
football was a source of shame.
Ordinary fans
were turning their back
on the once beautiful game.
The Sunday Times branded it
a "slum sport"
watched by "slum people"
in "slum stadiums".
I'll show you this graph.
After we won the World Cup
in 1966,
attendances were at a high
of something like 30 million.
And by 1986, they had declined
to 17 million.
Had that been Tesco supermarkets
or Boots chemists
or Rank cinemas,
they'd have had to have done
something very dramatic
to stop going out of business.
Football was not glamorous
and there was no television
income of any consequence.
So nobody could ever say
it was a well-run business
'cause it wasn't.
["Nessun Dorma" playing]
Nessun dorma♪
[crowd cheering]
[man] At that time,
I was working
for The Independent,
which was a new
newspaper start-up,
and the World Cup in 1990
changed our view
of how the game
could be reported,
what we could see in it.
And it produced
amazing characters.
[narrator] The emotional highs
and lows of Italia '90
marked a turning point
for English football.
Different types of people
suddenly started watching.
Football was bringing
the nation together.
[announcer] And chipped in,
and volleyed in!
And it's there by David Platt!
And Bobby Robson ecstatic.
[White] And what happened
in 1990 was
you had the added drama
of those penalty shoot-outs.
I remember being with friends
and them having
to leave the room
while the penalties
were going on.
[crowd roars]
[announcer] And England are out
of the World Cup.
West Germany are through
to the final on penalty kicks.
[Robson] We played a major part
in the tournament.
We've done very well
to get to the semis,
and we can go home, you know,
feeling very proud, I think.
[music crescendos]
[crowd cheering]
When England finally bowed out,
the match was witnessed
by a UK television audience
of more than 25 million.
[White] Lights were going on
in brains
amongst the next generation
of media moguls,
realizing, "Hang on.
This is something
very, very powerful.
And if we get this right,
there's money here."
With the prospect of bringing
fans back to the game,
a new breed
of business-minded chairmen
sensed the time was ripe
for a sporting revolution.
I was in the commodity business
actually trading physical sugar,
and I built up my own business,
and it was going fairly well.
A group of us got together
who were more progressive
than others
and said, you know,
it's time to change.
My own personal motto
is the motto of the turtle.
You don't get anywhere
unless you stick your neck out.
Being young and enthusiastic,
we sort of thought, well,
things need to change.
We all realized that,
really, under the 92
old football league formula,
the big clubs in England
were never really going to reach
their full potential.
The big five,
the two Liverpool clubs,
Liverpool and Everton,
the two north London clubs,
Arsenal and Spurs and United
got together,
had this unofficial cartel,
and they were trying
to work out ways that they
could grab more of the take.
[Dein] We had a famous meeting,
and the plot was laid
to break away.
The Football League
had been going
since the 1880s or something
over a hundred years
and all of a sudden,
here we come, five of us decide
here's the four divisions
of 92 clubs.
We're gonna take
the top division
of 22 clubs at the time
and break away,
form a whole new legal entity,
rebrand ourselves,
reinvent ourselves,
call ourselves
the Premier League
and start again.
[news intro playing]
Good evening.
The Football Association
has approved controversial plans
to set up a new super league,
but the decision looks certain
to cause a rift within the game.
Upsetting. Ah, more divisive,
and bringing all the aggro
to the fore again.
[female anchor]
The elite clubs will set up
their own premier division
enabling them to keep more
of the profits from sponsorship
and television.
That may not worry the fans
of Arsenal, Spurs and the rest,
but what about the likes
of Oxford, Southend
and Gillingham?
It's a difficult thing
to change anything that's been
going for over a hundred years,
and of course
there was a lot of resistance.
This is the last thing
that the man in the streets
wants or even understands.
I thought it was all about
22 men kicking the ball about.
You know, I could be
radically wrong
in that situation.
That guy, and I don't want
to talk badly about him,
but he was chairman
of the Football League,
and he said,
"It's always been like this,
for over a hundred years.
You can't change it now."
Oh, really? Well, you know what?
A hundred years ago,
buses were drawn by horses.
[man] Five, four, three
two, one and cue.
We're on BBC.
[narrator] The new founders
were staking the success
of their breakaway league
on selling TV rights
to live matches.
And just as they were looking
for broadcast partners,
television was going through
its own revolution.
[TV host] Programmes beamed
from outer space,
the shape of television to come.
In February, you'll be able
to pick up programmes
from the Astra satellite.
Now to do it, you'll need this.
This is a dish,
shallow curve there,
made by Amstrad.
Costs about £200 on sale
at Christmas.
[man] I remember it vividly.
-The phone rang.
Rupert Murdoch wanted to see me.
To me, Rupert was
a mystical figure.
It was like following
Gandalf the Grey.
Gandalf the Grey, though,
wearing glasses like
the windscreen
of a Ford Cortina.
Rupert Murdoch was attempting
to expand his media empire
with the launch
of a new network,
Sky Television.
Rupert Murdoch
has officially launched his bid
to win over
Britain's television viewers.
He plans four new satellite
television channels.
[reporter] The man may own more
newspapers and more television
stations than anyone on Earth
[Crick] I've been a television
news reporter for 40 years.
I was at that event
when Murdoch launched Sky,
and I remember, um,
rather nervously
asking him, "Will the standards
of journalism on Sky be the same
as in your newspapers?
Fabrication and lies
and obsession
with people's private lives?"
And everybody
was absolutely stunned.
Is it going to be the same kind
of standard of journalism
as we see in those newspapers?
It'll be totally different.
I've told you it will be
absolutely first class.
-Thank you.
-And there was huge scepticism
about whether it would ever work
and whether people would pay
to subscribe to new channels
when they already had
several channels to watch.
I suppose the worry about it was
that Sky would monopolise
football on television
and therefore we wouldn't get
to watch it on Match of the Day
or on the ITV equivalent.
[Hill] At the time
the Premier League was forming,
Sky was in a fairly perilous
financial state.
We'd been losing
a lot of money
couple million quid a week
and we had a tiny,
little viewing audience.
[White] Initially,
Rupert Murdoch's idea was
that films would be the driver
of that.
You'd subscribe
rather than go into the cinema
and you'd get new movies.
But when they launched,
there wasn't much take-up.
People weren't that interested.
They realized that sport
might be the way of doing it
if we could get into sport.
Then I went looking to every
sporting body in the UK
to try and pick up rights
that weren't being used.
And, obviously, football
was top of the list.
Getting the Premier League
became that pot of gold
that we desperately needed.
Football's new Premier League
has struck a £300 million deal,
which means its matches
will only be seen live
on satellite TV.
If fans wanted to watch
live matches,
they'd have to pay £200
for a dish and a monthly
subscription on top.
When Mr. Murdoch
wrote the cheque
to the football league,
everyone said, "Oh, my God!
Poor old Rupert's
lost it this time.
He's paid too much money."
The pound signs were ringing
in the eyes
of the football club chairmen.
It was transformational
the amount of money
that was being offered by Sky.
It was huge.
[man] So how much
is he prepared to lose?
I don't know. Whatever
Whatever it takes.
[interviewer] I'm just gonna
show you one of our clips.Yeah.
All right. Go on then.
Yeah, I have to put
my glasses on.
Is that all right?Yeah.
["Alive and Kicking"
by Simple Minds playing]
Oh, God, the ad.
I remember the music.
That was it, wasn't it?
That was the start
of the Premier League.
You turn me on♪
[Jones] This was on
a Sunday morning, I think.
Obviously, we'd been out
Saturday night after the games,
you know what I mean?
No one told me
I had to bring football boots.
I think I was sponsored by Nike
at the time.
I think I had somebody's Reeboks
on, about four sizes too small,
and, er yeah, lost my Nike
contract, thanks very much, Sky.
That was my start
to the Premier League, yeah.
-Who's got the touch♪
-To calm the storm inside?♪
-Who's gonna save you?♪
-Alive and kicking♪
Stay until your love is♪
Alive and kicking♪
I guess when we saw this,
we thought, "Maybe things are
a little bit different."
We were aware that the whole
of the country were about
to embark on a journey,
but what that journey was gonna
be or how big it was gonna be,
I don't think anyone
could have predicted.
[Hill] Rupert's career
has been marked by gambles.
He's virtually pushed
all the chips
into the centre of the table.
The FA Premier League,
live only on Sky.
It's a whole new ball game.
[crowd cheering]
Right here, right now♪
There is no other place
That I'd rather be♪
Right here, right now♪
Watching the world wake up
From history♪
[Hill] Football is the greatest
entertainment of all time,
but it wasn't being represented
that way.
What we had to do
was market it properly.
Make people realize
the FA Premier League
was not the same.
For us, this was like
make or break.
[narrator] The multimillion-
pound injection from Sky
would have an immediate impact.
The money would be shared
between 22 teams,
but not equally.
The higher up the league table
a side finished,
the more money they'd get.
Good afternoon, everyone.
A new league,
even a different button to push
on your television set.
We're all lovers
of this marvellous game,
especially when players
of this pedigree are involved.
Founding members
Manchester United should have
been amongst the favourites,
but after six years in charge,
Alex Ferguson had failed to win
a league title.
The fans were losing patience.
[crowd chanting]
The club just had one theme,
and that was to go and win
the Premier League title.
Denis, Denis,
just play football. Denis!
You listened to the boss.
He knew he needed it.
You could see it in his face.
Well, the fans were ambivalent
about Ferguson up to that point.
I mean, he'd come down
from Scotland having had
this extraordinary record
with Aberdeen,
but he'd been at United then
for nearly six years,
and we still hadn't won
the league.
Manchester United
will be expected to win titles.
So that's just about the only
thing that your predecessor,
Ron Atkinson, didn't do,
and he's almost been branded
a failure after five years.
I mean, that in itself does sum
up the magnitude of the job
you've taken on, doesn't it?
[man] We hadn't won the league
since 1967.
Every year that went by,
it got more and more difficult
and the tension grew.
So by the time we got to '92,
it'd become a big
Like a monster.
It was
It was hanging over us.
Of course,
he was under enormous pressure.
I mean, we used to receive
a lot of letters
from supporters
complaining that Alex wasn't
the right man,
he'd come from Scotland,
he hadn't got experience
in the English league
and all the rest of it.
[man] Around that time,
Fergie's football was dire.
It was really poor.
So it came to me one night
that I should take the bedsheet
off the bed
and get some black paints
out the shed
and paint a banner
expressing my feelings.
The banner said "3 years
of excuses
but it's still crap
Ta ra Fergie".
Most of the crowd cheered
and applauded as they saw it,
and Fergie called it
his darkest day in football.
The overriding feeling though
was still sadness
that I'd had to do it
and I wanted to do it
and that United
were still playing poorly.
Denis, just play football.
[crowd cheering]
And up comes Schmeichel,
and a clean strike effected.
-[crowd roaring]
-[announcer] And Deane scores.
The start wasn't great. Uh
We actually conceded
the first ever
Premier League goal.
[announcer] Four minutes
and 36 seconds when the ball
went into the net.
[crowd roars]
[announcer] And the referee
says penalty.
I'd come with a reckless slide,
and I took a little bit of flak,
as did a lot of players.
You can feel the history.
It certainly brings it home
to you very quickly.
[crowd roars]
[announcer] So Alex Ferguson's
team open with a defeat.
To start that year so badly
kind of left us
doubting ourselves.
Something had to change
for Ferguson, and fast.
He'd been closely tracking
a young Southampton striker
who'd recently broken into
the England team.
[announcer] Straight to Cook,
and that's a lovely ball
for Shearer!
He's got himself away
from the defenders here.
He's done well.
-He's done brilliantly!
-[crowd roars]
[Merson] The all-round
centre forward.
The all-round centre forward.
I don't think people appreciate
how rock solid he was as well.
I mean, he could hold a ball up,
he was strong,
he'd run the channels,
he'd score bundles of goals.
He was the all-round package.
At just 21, Alan Shearer
was the country's most
talked about centre forward
and was being bombarded
with offers.
I got a call
from a representative
from Manchester United
and said, "Man United
would like to speak to you."
And I said, "Well,
that's really great, thank you,
but I have promised
that I'd give Blackburn
an answer
before the end of the week."
And they said they couldn't get
the money together
for whatever reason
for a couple of weeks,
so would I be prepared to wait?
[clears throat] I said,
"No, I'm not prepared to wait.
If you want me
that much then you'd make
something happen now."
I was disappointed
in that conversation with him,
I must say that.
He surprised me a lot.
He seemed to be
Money seemed to be
the most important thing to him.
[narrator] United's name,
history and reputation
wasn't enough.
Ferguson had been outbid.
I was actually flattered
and hugely impressed
that someone was prepared to pay
that amount of money for me,
stupidly maybe.
Alan Shearer playing
at Blackburn Rovers, you know.
Everybody wants Alan Shearer.
He could've gone anywhere.
He could've gone Man United,
anywhere he wanted,
and he went there.
[Shearer] The major factor
of me going to Blackburn
was because one of the first
things they said to me was,
"We want to win
this Premier League,
and we want to win it sharpish."
[dog barking]
[narrator] Blackburn Rovers
hadn't won a major honour
since 1928.
But having clinched
the final spot
in the new Premier League,
this was a small club
with big ambitions.
Where's Blackburn?
Where's Blackburn?
Ah, it's a town in the north?
Yorkshire, is it?
Seaside town?[man] Sorry?
Um, it's in Merseyside
near Manchester.
Tony Blackburn? [laughs]
You don't think that people
don't know about this place
because it's your be-all
and end-all, isn't it?
Blackburn Rovers,
Julie speaking.
I came to Ewood Park
when I was 29.
My family have always been
Blackburn Rovers fans. Always.
It was a poor place.
It was poor.
You know, the stadium was poor.
There were a row
of terraced houses,
and they bought
the two end terraces.
One was converted into a gym
for the players,
and it was grim.
I mean, grim.
The town needed a lift.
The day that he did take over,
the club secretary said,
"I'm expecting a fax."
Usually, I had to pick up
the fax and take it in to him,
but he were there hovering
over it, waiting and waiting
and waiting,
and when it finally
came through, he says
Held it up, and he said,
"This will change our lives
[reporter] Jack Walker is
a millionaire many times over.
One survey ranks him as
the 24th richest man in Britain
and lives a life of true luxury.
His wealth wasn't inherited
or won. He earned it.
I'm fortunate. I managed to
sell my business two years ago,
and I now have the time to do
what I always wanted to do
and be involved
in the Blackburn Rovers.
[narrator] Walker had sold
the family steel business
and now had £360 million
burning a hole in his pocket.
[White] The established giants
did not like the arrival
of Walker.
This was meant to be
a super league.
This was meant to be creating
a world in which Liverpool,
Manchester United, Arsenal
and Tottenham reigned supreme,
not some upstart
with a bit of cash.
[crowd cheering]
I had to go in
and I had to do the business.
I had to score goals.
It shocked us.
You think, "Hold on a minute,
3.6 million,
and he's only how old,
and he's done what?
He'd better be good." [laughs]
[man] Free kick!
[crowd jeers]
[crowd chanting]
Not worth the money!
Not worth the money!
Not worth the money!
Not worth the money!
[Shearer] To get off
to a good start and score a goal
was hugely important
because I cost so much then.
The pressure was on me.
[crowd roars]
[Preugschat] He didn't buy it
just to play with it.
Jack Walker meant business.
He wanted to go all the way.
[narrator] The new league was
producing unexpected plotlines,
and the success of Sky's £300
million gamble relied on
the public getting hooked in.
But the fledgling broadcaster
could not rely
on the sport itself.
It assembled a marketing team
tasked with commercializing
English football.
Marketing is everything.
It has to tell you something.
It has to touch your
your lifestyle.
Can't, can't, can't
Can't get up♪
I had been living in Los Angeles
and just loved
what they were doing with sport.
It was essentially
So you go and see something
like the LA Raiders,
and it was a show,
and the sport was in the middle
of the show.
Get up, get up♪
[Dein] I got taken to
an American football game.
The Miami Dolphins were playing.
And I'm trying to concentrate
on the game, and all I can hear
in my ear is,
"Hot dogs, Coca-Cola,
cold beer. Cold beer, hot dogs,
And I'm finding I'm passing
a dollar bill this way,
a Coca-cola that way,
a hamburger this way. [laughs]
And that's just because
they made an event out of it,
which we didn't.
Ford'sMonday Night Football.
[Richard Keys]
Mondays are changing.
No longer that
start-of-the-week depression.
We're into a whole new ball game
on Sky Sports.
Good evening to you.
Manchester City
and Queens Park Rangers tonight
marking the start
of a whole new era.
But if that don't mean
[Hill] Monday Night Football
was something
that we'd insisted on
in the development
of the Sky bid
right from the get-go,
and the reason was very simple.
If you looked at the viewing
figures in the United States,
the number of women watching
on Monday night
was almost double the number
that would watch
the traditional time spot,
which were on Sunday afternoon.
And it became a phenomenon
in the US,
that people would have parties,
and the weekend
didn't really end
until the football game happened
on the Monday night.
But if that don't mean
I remember that the first few
games, there were dancing girls,
there were fireworks,
there was all sorts of stuff
going off,
and you're thinking, you know,
"We're just coming to play ball.
Never seen none of this before."
[Keys] It's a family crowd.
These are the Sky Strikers
about which you've heard
so much.
What you gonna do
When it all cracks up♪
What you gonna do
When the love burns down?♪
We got whacked
for the Sky Strikers.
What's it gonna take♪
[reporter] What are you actually
gonna do?
We're doing pregame
and halftime, you know,
and hopefully getting
the crowd going.
Just getting the crowd
That was our attempt
at cheerleaders.
Alive and kicking♪
Which, um which didn't work.
[man] Impressed with what was in
the centre circle, boys?
Yeah, in fact,
I forgot the game was on.
I decided I'd just watch them.
Ooh, oh♪
[Smith laughing]
This was one of our ideas.
I stood in the crowd for it,
and I thought,
"This is gonna be great.
I'm gonna get their reaction."
And the guys around me said,
"What the fuck's
going on here now?
What's all that about,
eh? What?"
[whistle blows]
[announcer] Here he comes. Yes!
[crowd shouting]
[crowd chanting]
I go, "Okay, we didn't
quite get that right. Okay."
But the idea had
a germ of something in it.
Let's entertain. Let's do better
than a brass band at halftime.
[playing sax solo
from "Baker Street"]
For us, there were
no boundaries anymore.
We wanted everybody
in that crowd.
We wanted women, we wanted kids,
we wanted everybody.
We got advertising boards
that weren't flat pieces of wood
or cardboard.
They revolved.
And then you could have
ball boys branded
with another form
of advertising.
Oh, and by the way, you can have
people in your stadium early,
so you're gonna sell more food,
you're gonna sell more beer,
you're gonna sell
more merchandise.
And anything that moved
was saleable.
Many football fans certainly
feel that commercialism
is the priority of the game now.
And I think we ought to remember
it's a sport.
It's not pure business at all.
Yeah, playing Monday night games
is such a killer.
How can fans from Manchester
travel into Southampton,
hundreds of miles,
on Monday night,
pouring rain?
No chance.
Haven't got money for that.
It's just out of order.
Totally out of order.
Yes, it was done
for financial gain.
No question,
and I make no bones about it.
And in a way,
it was a bit outrageous, really.
But it worked.
[stadium announcer] Our thanks
to the Sky Strikers.
[narrator] Having failed
to land Alan Shearer,
Alex Ferguson was desperate
to find another frontman.
He took a risk on a newcomer
from the lower leagues,
23-year-old Dion Dublin.
[Ferguson] Well, I think we
tried to be a bit sane about it.
You know? We did get involved
in Alan Shearer a bit,
but when it came
to the situation where, oh
the terms
and the actual transfer fees
for a 21-year-old,
we just felt Dion Dublin
was an alternative.
He's comfortable on the ball,
and I think he's got
a decent goal-scoring record.
And I just felt that probably,
possibly, we've got
the better value.
But just three weeks later,
disaster struck.
The tackle was horrendous,
and it broke his leg
and his ankle at the joint.
You knew straightaway
he was in trouble.
And he was a great guy, and he'd
really just got into the team
and started playing.
Come from Cambridge,
which was back then
in the second or third division
or whatever it was.
And he was just finding his feet
as a Manchester United player.
The pressure was mounting
on Alex Ferguson.
Manchester United fans
were growing impatient
and success looked
a long way off.
If I asked you which side
had only gained one victory
from their last ten matches,
scoring just six goals,
it might surprise you
the answer is Manchester United.
[Edwards] We were having
a tough time in the league,
and once we knew the seriousness
of Dublin's injury,
then we had to bring in
somebody else.
[phone rings]
I was literally in my office
one day,
and I got a call
from Bill Fotherby,
who was the chief executive
of Leeds United.
And Bill said, "Martin,
we're wondering,
would you be prepared
to sell us Denis Irwin?"
And I said, "We can't let Denis
go. He's too important", I said.
"But we'll take Eric
off your hands."
[narrator] In France,
Eric Cantona had earned
a reputation
as a difficult character
to manage and had fallen out
with his coach.
[in French]
[Cantona in French]
[narrator] After threatening
to quit football altogether,
he'd moved to England
to play for Leeds United,
but the rumour was
he was less than settled.
[Edwards] I'd heard
through the grapevine
that Howard Wilkinson
didn't particularly get on
with Eric.
You know, he was a bit
of a maverick character
and Howard couldn't cope
with him and the rest of it,
and I'd heard
that he wasn't happy with him.
So I just happened to throw in,
"Would you be prepared
to sell Cantona?"
"Right. What would you
be prepared to pay?"
I said a million.
"Don't be stupid", he said.
"I'll not let him go
for a million.
What about 1.5?"
"No, no. No, a million."
"You give me 1.2"
"Look, I've said a million.
We've discussed it
all last week.
We're taking him off your hands.
Howard wants to get rid of him."
"Well, listen," he said.
"We'll do a million,
but can we say it's 1.2?"
He says, "We'll get slaughtered
by our supporters here."
I said, "You can say what you
like, Bill. Say what you like."
[man 1] Au revoir,Leeds.
[man 2] The footballing
fraternity was stunned
when Cantona left Leeds
after just a year.
[man 3] Now Manchester United
have to try and tame
the wayward talent
of the French international.
[man 4]
All right, look in this one.
-[man 5] And this one, please.
-[man 6] This one, please.
[men shouting]
[Cantona] I came from France
where they wanted us
to be all the same.
But England was was special.
They could accept somebody
who was
was a certain kind
of personality.
Somebody who is a bit different
can be accepted and loved.
[men shouting]
All the best, mate.
[reporter] Eric, can I ask you,
are you surprised to be here?
No.[man] No, he's not surprised.
He arrived at Old Trafford
like he was already the king
of Old Trafford.
He walked in with his chest
puffed out, his collars up.
Just such a confidence
about the lad.
[Cantona] The day I signed
for Manchester United,
I'd say
It was a great club,
and I had to
I had to succeed.
Are you able to tell us
how much the deal was for?
Ah, 1.2 million.
[reporter] Has playing
English football made him
a more mature person
and less of
an enfant terrible?
[speaking French]
It still upsets him, that image,
as it did before.
[interviewer] He's got
a fiery reputation
a fiery Frenchman,
and, with due respect,
a fiery Scot.
How's that relationship
gonna develop?
Well, the French and Scots have
great old alliances
if you know your history.
I'm hoping this is part
of a new alliance.
He has got a bad-boy image,
hasn't he? How are you
gonna deal with that?
Well, we'll just have
this experience.
Hopefully, I have
the experience to handle it.
This might be
a new challenge for me too.
[announcer] There hasn't been
a more controversial move
in English football.
£1.2 million it cost
for Cantona to come
to Old Trafford.
Great cross, Phelan arriving.
Cantona made it. Yes!
[crowd roaring]
Eric Cantona's first goal
for Manchester United
just seemed to land.
He's always had coaches
or managers who were
trying to shape him,
where Fergie let him be
a free spirit.
[Cantona] And when you receive
the ball, you want to
It's like caressing the ball.
It's like a dance.
[announcer] Cantona,
he's really in the mood.
[crowd roars]
They say a rising tide
lifts all boats,
and Cantona was a rising tide.
He was exciting.
It was good to watch.
It was like we had United back.
[announcer] Passed forward.
But not past the first time,
but he does the second time.
Of course I was a winner.
I wanted to win,
but I have to express myself.
[announcer] Cross with a left
from Irwin. Cantona's looping
header, and a goal!
-[crowd cheering]
And the cult hero here
has his status elevated
even higher.
Eric Cantona was
a producer's gift from God.
Here you had this
wonderful, wonderful character.
He almost had
a hip-hugging hologram
around him when he was playing,
that he was always
doing something.
The eye couldn't leave him.
Like the lions or the tigers,
you know, the way they move.
Like this, like they are
sleeping, you know?
But if they move,
they move quickly.
Over the goalkeeper, Cantona!
Confidence, arrogance, belief,
he had all those things.
He was different. He did art.
And then he'd talk
about painting pictures
on a football pitch.
Nobody used that analogy.
I certainly never used that,
and I'm painting pictures
on a football pitch.
That's how Eric saw himself,
as an artist.
[Cantona] If you see
all the movements
of the players, you know,
on the pitch,
if you can draw it, you know,
make a big,
wonderful piece of art.
Cantona making ground in
the middle, and he finds him!
Yes! A magnificent equalizer
by Manchester United!
Eric Cantona!
The £360 million fortune
of steel magnate Jack Walker
was having a direct impact
on the title race.
The return on his investment
was being paid back
with interest.
[crowd cheering]
A Shearer shirt, please.
[woman] What size?Small boy's.
We never really had fan mail
for players, you know.
But with Alan Shearer,
it was a different story.
It just came in thick and fast.
My mum and dad were so proud
'cause they couldn't wait to
tell everybody where I worked.
"Oh, she works
for Blackburn Rovers.
She's Alan Shearer's secretary."
If they'd said I were a surgeon,
they would just be as proud.
[announcer] He's Oh!
[Hendry] It could have been
an expensive failure,
but it was never gonna be
an expensive failure
because as a finisher of goals,
Alan Shearer was just
as good as there was.
Who was that?Shearer.
Shearer scored.
I used to think that the day
Would never come♪
I'd see the light in the shade
Of the morning sun♪
All of a sudden, there were
a new life in the town.
[to "Winter Wonderland"]
There's only one
Alan Shearer♪
Walking along
Singing a song♪
In a Shearer wonderland♪
[both] Yay! [laughing]
[announcer] They've done it!
They've caught Leeds out,
and Wilcox, who's got one goal,
can get another one,
or he might lay it on
who else but Alan Shearer!
[crowd cheering]
[Shearer] You felt a sort
of a ping go in my knee.
When any player goes down
and then doesn't move very much,
you automatically think
that's something serious.
That runs through
everybody's mind, and certainly
through mine as well.
A ruptured cruciate ligament
back in '92, '93
was viewed as
a career-threatening injury.
[crowd chanting]
Shearer! Shearer! Shearer!
[Preugschat] We'd just got going
in the Premier League,
and then all of a sudden,
it's cut, you know?
Alan's gone.
The one time
where the cost of this guy
actually came into my thoughts
was when the surgeon produced
a hammer and a chisel,
and I thought, "Oh, my God,
you can't take that
to this guy's knee.
You know, he's worth a fortune."
It's a long, hard road back,
and you've got to accept that.
But then I was determined
to get back bigger
and stronger than ever.
[funk music playing]
Get down, get down♪
The most complete
football service in the world,
seven days a week,
Sky Sports is in a league
of its own. This is why.
Sky had a commercial association
with other branches
of Murdoch's media empire.
So he had The Sun,
which was the most popular
daily newspaper.
He had The Times,
which was the paper of record.
And what he could do
was fantastically push
this new product
on the pages of his newspapers.
The Sunday Times,of course,
was part of the Murdoch empire,
so you're not calling it
a slum sport anymore.
You're saying,
"This is something
you should get involved in."
[man] It's quite good, really,
you know what I mean?
Bit of coverage,
see much more of the game.
I like the interviews after.
It's all right, mate.
See plenty of football.
So I like it, know what I mean?
[Hill] Every pub in Britain
had to have Sky in there
for Sunday afternoon
and Monday night.
Sky had arrived.
[narrator] On the pitch,
a drama was starting
to take shape.
The fairy tale,
where a sleeping giant
is reawoken,
was about to enter
the closing chapter.
As his side climbed the table,
Ferguson was winning back
the fans.
But one slip, and the tide
could so easily turn.
[Cantona] When you didn't win
things for so long,
you have maybe more pressure.
And Alex Ferguson
was the perfect manager for that
because he had everything.
He He knows
football perfectly.
And I remember
the pre-match talk
from Alex Ferguson was always
He always finished by,
"Now you know everything.
Now enjoy it."
Since their last title in 1967,
United have won
numerous cup competitions,
but have continually seemed
to lack the resilience to
clinch that league title again.
[crowd singing]
[announcer] Hello again.
I'm Martin Tyler.
This is Old Trafford.
Alex Ferguson on a crusade
to try and bring
the championship here.
[narrator] With just
six matches remaining,
the game against Sheffield
Wednesday was seen as pivotal.
Locked in a title battle
with Aston Villa,
a United win would put them
top of the league
and provide momentum
for the final run-in.
[crowd chanting]
We need to win this game
in order to stay in the race.
This is thegame.
[announcer] Sharpe
Here's McClair!
[crowd groans]
[announcer] Cantona knew
exactly what he was going
to do before the ball arrived.
When you start
to think too much,
analyse everything
You know, now they analyse
everything in football.
All I know is that
I could express myself,
and I don't want to know more.
That's a great touch
by Cantona for Giggs.
[crowd groans]
It's like in love.
I don't want to know
why I love my wife.
Cantona has done it again!
This is McClair.
[crowd groans]
[Pallister] We'd had
so many chances in the game,
and then all of a sudden,
this came around.
[announcer] Waddle.
[White] I was at that game,
and here we were,
United's inherent weakness
seemed to be there.
That nerve
about getting over the line.
There's no doubt about it.
Ferguson was desperate
to win that title.
You could almost see it
in his eyes, thinking,
"This is gonna slip away."
[crowd shouting, booing]
[stadium announcer]
The Sheffield Wednesday
scored by number five,
John Sheridan.
[Pallister] I remember
the deathly silence.
The fans were just
dumbstruck really.
You're thinking
this is a moment where
we could be throwing away
the title.
We find ourselves 1-0 down
going into the final minutes
of normal time.
[announcer] Alex Ferguson
needs his players
to dig very deep.
[Cantona] What is great
with Alex Ferguson,
he wasn't afraid to be in front
of personalities.
He had Schmeichel, Robson,
Paul Ince, Steve Bruce.
He could deal with any kind
of personality,
and more than that,
he helped them
to express themselves.
[announcer] Now Cantona.
That's a great play
by Chris Woods.
And then be part of the team.
[announcer] Hughes.
Still Hughes
and Woods has kept it
out again. Corner.
And I think this kind of team
managed like this is
stronger than anyone.
[announcer] Back to Bruce.
Oh, it's in!
Woods couldn't do it that time.
Have Manchester United
got it in them to find
another goal here?
It was that idea that,
don't think that you can
write this team off.
They'll come good at the last.
And, of course,
for a broadcaster,
that is really, really
brilliant content
because it's the cliffhanger.
You've gotta stick to the end.
You can't switch off
'cause anything could happen.
We're in the 90th minute.
This is Premier League drama
of the highest order.
For some reason, which I never
ever found any sense
or good explanation as to why,
Pally turned up
on the right wing.
[announcer] Pallister.
Bruce Yes!
-Yes, for Manchester United!
-[crowd roaring]
Out of the depths of despair
comes that.
It's all about the cross.
[crowd chanting]
[reporter] I've never seen him
go so ape shit.
Who?The manager.
You'll see the shot tonight.
He's run onto the track.
I think it was Brian
who went on the pitch.
Brian went on the pitch
and they went mad.
I never ever, ever saw Fergie
celebrate like that.
And when he's running up,
I think he's about to do
somersaults and everything.
And then he realizes
[snaps finger]
"Oh, I'm the manager here.
I have to contain myself."
But Brian Kidd
doesn't get that thought.
He carries on. He's on his knees
and looking at the sky
and everything.
From that moment on,
everything changed.
[Ferguson] It brought us all
excitement, the support.
Almost saying,
"We are gonna do it.
It's gonna happen."
[crowd singing]
[narrator] After
their last-minute victory,
there was no looking back
for Manchester United.
They were assured
of the Premier League title
before the season finished.
We had a sort of like a
Eh, we had a We had a
Oh, I'll put it the way it is.
We had a party at Bruce's house.
Pump it up a little more♪
Get the party going
On the dance floor♪
'Cause that's where
The party's at♪
[narrator] On the evening
before their final home game,
the players' celebrations
would become the stuff
of suburban legend.
We all piled round Bruce's house
about 7:00,
and I think we left there
about 4:00 in the morning.
So it was like an eight,
nine-hour bender.
I don't want
A place to stay♪
[man] If the gaffer
could see us now.
Consistency, consistency.
The man Ince.
I love him! I love him!
[in French]
And, of course,
we tried to be sensible,
but it's difficult.
In a way,
it was quite unprofessional.
I'll say that we didn't do it
like we should have done.
But it's not my fault.
It just went on maybe longer
than what it should have done,
to be perfectly honest.
Everything about the game
the next day was,
"One more then I'll go.
You know what?
Someone please grab me
and say I have to go,
and then I will go."
And obviously people weren't
grabbing people early enough.
Get your booty
On the floor tonight♪
[horn honking rhythmically]
Oh, when the Reds!
Oh, when the Reds!
-Go marching in!
-Go marching in!
Oh, when the Reds
Go marching in♪
I want to be in that number
When the Reds go marching in♪
Good evening from Old Trafford.
There hasn't been a night
here like this
for over a quarter
of a century.
But once again,
Manchester United
are the champions.
It's been a long, long wait
since those days of Best and Law
and Charlton.
[Molyneux] I wrote a letter
to Alex Ferguson saying
that I criticised you
when you got it wrong
or when I thought
you were getting wrong,
and it's only fair
that I applaud you now.
Alex Ferguson,
Ferguson, Ferguson♪
[Molyneux] You've made
all our dreams come true.
You've done
what you were asked to do,
and you'll always go down
in the annals of time for that,
and thanks for doing that.
I never got a reply.
And, also, I wouldn't have
blamed him for thumping me.
Well, you shouldn't drink
the night before a big game!
[all laughing]
Remember before the game
when we're
A lot of us are sitting down,
virtually trying to keep
our bodies upright
because we had maybe celebrated
a little bit too much
the night before.
This is the greatest night
of your lives.
It's a night where you can relax
and play, but win.
-[players laughing]
I'm not even gonna ask you
what you were up to last night.
I daren't ask you.
I daren't.
[crowd cheering]
[stadium announcer]
Here they are, the
Premier League champions, 1993,
Manchester United!
[crowd cheering]
I've never known an atmosphere
like it in Old Trafford
in all my life that night.
That was just
The relief, the enjoyment,
the party atmosphere.
We are the champions,
My friends♪
As the curtain came down
on the first season,
United were to be awarded
the Premier League trophy
after the final game
against their ambitious rivals,
Blackburn Rovers.
Their star striker
was still out with injury.
Don't remember anything
about that. It's irrelevant.
Well, they won the league,
we didn't.
Not interested in it.
That's why I don't remember it.
[announcer] Hughes trying
to help it through.
A bit of a scramble.
Cantona. Ince is in there!
And Manchester United
have taken the lead
through Paul Ince.
And Cantona is again the
provider, and again no wonder
they applaud on the bench.
[whistle blows]
[crowd cheering]
[reporter] Well, Alex,
many, many congratulations.
How good does it feel
at the moment
to know that you're
the Premier League champions?
Well, it's a wonderful,
wonderful night.
You strive all your life
to get a feeling like tonight
and to experience an atmosphere
like we have tonight is
I've never seen anything
like that in my life.
[reporter] Now when you signed
Eric Cantona, there were
probably a few raised eyebrows.
An absolutely inspired signing
in hindsight,
but can you just assess his
contribution this season to you?
I think he brought imagination
to our game
that only great players
can bring to teams
and our players immediately
were magnetised by him.
And he just created
a sort of a flair
and a chemistry
that only United supporters
can understand.
[Cantona] What I mean to him,
I don't know.
What he means to me,
it's like
He was like a second father
for me.
Did he make you a better player?
I think so, yeah. Yeah.
So thanks, Alex.
Sir Alex Ferguson.
[crowd cheering]
[White] Well, at the beginning
of that season,
there'd been huge losses
at Sky.
And then suddenly,
the Premier League
was delivering
a million subscribers
in that first season.
This was huge.
They actually turned a profit
at the end of that first season,
and it was all done
by the football.
It was wonderful.
We had amazing theatre,
we had amazing stars
and we had an amazing plotline
that we didn't have to write.
We just went along for the ride,
and it was fantastic.
Glory, glory Man United♪
Amongst the thousands of fans
witnessing United make history
was an 18-year-old on the verge
of breaking into the team.
I was in the stadium
with my mum and dad.
To see us lift the trophy,
the team that me and my dad
supported our whole lives,
was the most incredible moment.
You could feel that something
special was happening.
You could feel that there was
a change within the club.
Well, thanks[man] Shh! Shh!
to all of you
for joining me tonight.[man] Cheers.
A wonderful night.
Appreciate you all being here.
-[man] To Alex!
-Hear, hear!
[all cheering]
[Le Saux] It was a celebration
for them, but it was humiliating
for us that night.
It was a big motivator
for the next season
because how we felt afterwards
really, I think,
got our backs up.
And I think we felt,
okay, right, we've got you
in our sights.
[announcer] Ripley.
Oh, and he's come
for Alan Shearer!
Goal for Blackburn Rovers!
Football became a huge part
of the tapestry of the country.
Everybody was talking
about the Premier League.
[crowd roars]
No, I don't.
I don't have any regrets.
Oh, my goodness me!
Eric Cantona has kung-fu'd
a Crystal Palace fan!
Next Episode