FOOTBALL: MAKE MINE A TREBLE; MAN UTD 2 NEWCASTLE 0; Two down, one to go as United's thrillogy remains on course.
Alex Ferguson's glory boys now head for the European Cup final against Bayern Munich in Barcelona on Wednesday with an historic hat-trick of trophies firmly within their reach.
They lost skipper Roy Keane to injury inside ten minutes - but his substitute, Teddy Sheringham, proved the match-winner, scoring the first goal just 96 seconds after coming on, and then setting up the second for Paul Scholes.
And Fergie beamed: "These players are just magnificent. It was a bad break losing Roy so early through injury, but Teddy came on and played a decisive role. We are now two thirds of the way towards the treble and our confidence is sky high going to Barcelona.
"The pleasing thing is that everyone has been saying that facing Munich without Roy Keane because of his suspensionwould be a major hurdle for us.
"But I think we proved today that isn't the case. David Beckham took over Roy's role and was outstanding.
"Newcastle were aggressive in their chaellenges and I thought Gary Speed's tackle on Keane was reckless.
"But it was a great performance and I thought we played some excellent football in the second half."
Fergie revealed that before kick-off there was a major influenza scare with both the Neville brothers, plus Ronny Johnsen and goal-hero Scholes all going down with a bug.
"They had sore throats and temperatures," explained the Manchester United boss."
"But the spirit is such that they were all determined to play through it, and they did - I don't know where they found the energy."
Super-sub Sheringham, who has taken some stick from the fans this season, said: "One minute you are down and the next you are up in this game - but that's football.
"This is a fantastic moment for me. I'm 33 and I didn't think I would get another chance to play in an FA Cup Final.
"I've shocked a few people by picking up two medals inside a week and now let's hope we can get another one."
Man-of-the-match Sheringham left Wembley clutching a bottle of champagne, but admitted he could be left out against Bayern Munich.
"I was disappointed not to start today," he said. "But you have to respect the gaffer's decisions because he is rarely wrong.
"But I know that even an FA Cup Final goal and the Man-of-the-Match award won't guarantee me a place against Munich. I will just have to keep my fingers crossed."
The other scorer, Scholes, said: "Wembley's becoming a bit of lucky ground for me.
"It's not bad to follow a hat-trick for England with a goal in the FA Cup Final.
"It wasn't one of my best.I didn't hit the ball cleanly, but I got just enough on it.
"Another medal in Barcelona would finish off a great season for both me and the club."
Keane did his best to hide the disappointment of going off so soon. "I already had trouble with my right ankle and then I twisted my left," he said.
"It was no good carrying on like that it was best to let somebody else come on who is 100 percent fit.
"But this is what squad football is all about - as well as getting the goal Teddy played very well.
"It's been a strange week for me, but hopefully on Wednesday I'll add to the medal collection.
"I was so confident we would win today it wasn't true and I knew anywhere near our best we would win it."
Gary Neville, who played well despite that flu bug, quipped: "When the gaffer started to read out the team sheet all the symptoms disappeared. There's no way any of us wanted to miss out on the FA Cup Final.
"Frankly we were surprised by Newcastle's confidence during the week.
"One or two of them were quick to come out and say they would beat us with ease and bearing in mind their form over the last month I felt it was a very strange thing to do.
"They certainly didn't look too confident on the pitch I think we completely outplayed them."
But while Manchester United celebrated and prepared to set off for Barcelona, Newcastle went away licking the wounds of a second successive lacklustre FA Cup final performance.
A year after being outplayed by Arsenal, they again failed to give their fans much to be proud of.
Dejected boss Ruud Gullit pulled no punches, and accused his side of self-destructing.
And Gullit, who revealed he will shortly put pen to paper on his unsigned contract, warned he will bring in players who "won't make mistakes."
Gullit, who went into the Wembley showdown insisting Newcastle could upset the champions, blamed "stupid mistakes" for his side's defeat.
"We made far too many errors," he admitted. "We knew that to win we had to be at the peak of our game and Manchester United would have to be less than 100 per cent.
"But it was plain to see that we didn't play to our best. We were nervous and made far too many stupid mistakes.
"The main difference between us was that we gave Teddy Sheringham far too much room. It was incredible.
"We gave the ball away cheaply and you can't do that against a side of Manchester United's calibre.
"You could see that they have a quality that we don't. That is why they are in the Champions League Final.
"I'm upset because I genuinely thought we could have won it.
"To concede that early goal was a major blow and we were always chasing the game after that.
"Now I must bring in some new players and start building from scratch for next season.
"I want players here who won't make mistakes. Already I have two deals lined up. For sure, there will be a lot of new faces next season."
Gullit dismissed talk of him joining Sampdoria and insisted he will sign a new deal.
"I will sign my new contract," he added. "There are still one or two points to sort out with the lawyers and I have a very good lawyer."
Newcastle schemer Gary Speed insisted the Toon Army can bounce back.
The Welsh international said: "It was very disappointing because we went into the final confident that this could be our year.
"We were much more upbeat about our chances than last year. We started brightly enough, but the Teddy Sheringham's goal was a terrific setback.
"And it was the same in the second half when Paul Scholes scored just when we were having our best spell of the game.
"But I think we will have learned from this defeat and will be a stronger team next season for it."
Newcastle's Silvio Maric added: "I feel sick to my stomach. It's the worst day of my life. Of course everyone is disappointed - it was our one and only chance of winning anything, and we didn't deserve to get anything.
"Wembley is an awful place to lose, I never want to come back and lose here again.
"But at least we lost to a great side. You cannot take anything away from Manchester United, they just don't seem to know what it's like to lose.
"I still believe the real test will come to them on Wednesday against Bayern Munich. But if you ask me where I would put my money I would put it firmly on United."
And more good news for Fergie's Euro army is confirmation that Dutch defender Jaap Stam will start in Bacelona after having a second half run- out at Wembley.
scare with both the Neville brothers, plus Ronny Johnsen and goal- hero Scholes, going down with a bug.
"They had sore throats and temperatures," said Ferguson. "But they were all determined to play through it, and they did - I don't know where they found the energy."
Gary Neville joked: "When the gaffer read out the team sheet all the symptoms disappeared. There's no way any on us wanted to miss out on the FA Cup Final."
Super-sub Sheringham said: "I was disappointed not to start but you have to respect the gaffer's decisions because he is rarely wrong.
"I've shocked a few people by picking up two medals in a week, now let's hope we can get another one. But I know even a Cup Final goal won't guarantee me a place against Munich. I'll have to keep my fingers crossed for Wednesday."
The other scorer, Scholes, said: "Wembley's becoming a bit of a lucky ground for me. It's not bad to follow a hat-trick for England with a goal in the FA Cup Final. It wasn't one of my best. I didn't hit the ball cleanly but I got just enough on it."
Keane did his best to hide the disappointment of going off so soon. "I already had trouble with my right ankle, then I twisted my left," he said.
"But this is what squad football is all about - as well as getting the goal Teddy played very well."
More good news for Ferguson is confirmation that defender Jaap Stam will start in Barcelona after having a second-half run-out at Wembley.
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|Publication:||Sunday Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||May 23, 1999|
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