Back In The Day - Manchester United pull out of defending the FA Cup - The Irish News July 1, 1999

Manchester United won the treble (League, FA Cup and Champions League) in 1999, but couldn't defend the FA Cup as they withdrew from the 1999-2000 FA Cup

FA sweet after United pull-out

SIR Alex Ferguson claims Manchester United have ditched the FA Cup because they do not want to be blamed if England's 2006 World Cup bid fails.

The Old Trafford boss realises that United's participation in the inaugural FIFA World Team Championship is vital to England's hopes of staging the tournament and that is why they have taken up the Football Association's offer to opt out of the competition.

The United boss feels this is clearly the lesser of two evils and he does not want the club to bear the wrath of the nation if they refused to go to Brazil and England's bid failed.

United announced their withdrawal from the FA Cup yesterday after much soul searching and Sir Alex said: “We had to think about the situation regarding England hosting the World Cup, that was paramount.

“No-one wants to see them not getting it and the criticism we would have received if they had not got it and we had refused to go to Brazil would have been unthinkable – and that's a Scotsman talking!

“From our point of view we couldn't win and we're getting criticised anyway because all of a sudden everyone is putting the FA Cup above everything else.

“We know that and we understand that, but we've been brave enough to make this decision.”

Sir Alex claimed he was disappointed to be robbed of the chance of defending the Treble before the season has even started.

Ulster MFC Changes to Derry line-up

DERRY have made a number of changes for the Ulster minor football championship semi-final against Donegal on Sunday.

Jarlath Bell, who came on as a substitute in the narrow one point win over Cavan a month ago, retains his place in the half-forward line.

Bell comes in at right wingforward while Jim Kelly, another man to impress coming off the bench, has also been awarded with a starting place at left cornerforward at the expense of Martin Donaghy.

Larry Bradley moves from right half-forward to centreforward with Francis McEldowney, who played there against Cavan, reverting to right half-back in place of the unfortunate Thomas McCann who misses the game after sustaining a recent knee injury.

Chris Collins replaces Cahil Mullan at centre halfback as manager Kevin Collins juggles his options.

“We beat Donegal in the Minor League but we won't be reading too much into that one” says Collins.

“At that stage, Donegal were only trying out players and things will be much closer on Sunday.”

Derry will again look to the scoring touch of full-forward and captain Paddy Bradley who scored six points last time out.

Sunday will also be a big day for defender Kevin McGuckin – he lines out in the full-back line while his uncle Adrian is the Derry Senior coach.

In the last round, it was almost too close for comfort. Derry led by 11 points to two at half-time against Cavan but only scored two points in the second half as Cavan made a remarkable comeback.

Derry (MFC v Donegal): Brian Scullion; David Hasson, Kevin McGuckin, Sean McKenna; Francis McEldowney, Chris Collins, Gary McMaster; Fergal Doherty, James Conway; Jarlath Bell, Larry Bradley, Jim Gray; Paddy Bradley (c), Ciaran O'Neill, Jim Kelly.

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