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Twenty years on and United get a Red hot Chile.

Byline: SAMUEL LUCKHURST

MAYBE the most candid footage of Sir Alex Ferguson during his United era was filmed toward the end of the 1997-98 season.

The Alex Ferguson Story captured the manager's obsession with shackling the Liverpool winger Steve McManaman, dubbing Paul Ince a 'big-time Charlie' and aggressively demanding to know what questions Sky's touchline reporter George Gavin would ask him following a victory over Leeds.

United ended that campaign potless and pining for Eric Cantona. His replacement, Teddy Sheringham, scored one league goal in the second half of the season and the Red Issue fanzine included him in their worst United XI. Ferguson's documentary featured some pub talk among supporters.

"Sheringham was supposed to be the replacement and he's over 30, he's not the replacement," one Mancunian said.

"We should have been going out and buying players like Salas."

Had Sanchez City it is caused a homelands Samuel " In February 1998, Chile played at Wembley on a night Dion Dublin and Michael Owen were making their international debuts but it was the visitors' striker who dominated the friendly.

Alexis Sanchez was only nine when Marcelo Salas evaded David Batty to caress a 40-yard lofted pass on his thigh before lashing the ball past Nigel Martyn. Then in the 79th minute his Cruyff turn invited a foul from Sol Campbell to win a penalty which Salas netted.

Ferguson had travelled to watch Salas play for Chile in a World Cup qualifier against Bolivia and admitted in December he admired the striker.

Salas's Wembley performance gave him nationwide exposure in an era where the internet was in its infancy.

Despite United's interest, Salas joined Lazio after scoring four in four matches at the 1998 World Cup. A year later, he did not even warrant a mention in Sir Alex Ferguson's first autobiography.

Salas partnered Christian Vieri at Lazio, where they helped the club to European Cup Winners' Cup glory and a first Scudetto in 26 years.

United courted Ajax's Patrick Kluivert. Brian Kidd surreally suggested John Hartson, but Ferguson plumped for PS12.6m Dwight Yorke, who scored 29 times and Sheringham stayed to net FA Cup and Champions League final goals. It worked out well.

Nineteen years after Salas ended up in Rome, Sanchez's opportunity to fulfil an ambition which eluded his compatriot cannot be underestimated. Had Sanchez joined City, it is unlikely to have caused a stir in his homeland after Claudio Bravo became the first Chilean to play for the Premier League leaders. His move to United could cause a minor tremor.

Salas was Sanchez's idol. Sanchez supported Universidad de Chile, where Salas began and ended his career, and when Sanchez was invited to train with the Chilean national side aged just 17 it was Salas who mentored him.

Three months ago, Sanchez uploaded a picture with his boyhood hero and the caption: "If we do not support each other among Chileans, nobody will do it for us." Salas was also supportive of Sanchez following his 2011 move to Barcelona.

Coincidentally, Sanchez was another Chilean who evaded Ferguson. "We have looked at Sanchez and he has impressed us, as have other players," Ferguson said in 2010. "He has had very good games."

joined unlikely to have stir in his of Chile Luckhurst " Sanchez joined United's 2011 Champions League final conquerers Barca.

Ferguson eventually bought a Chilean in Angelo Henriquez, his penultimate signing who never played a competitive game for United but collected an FA Cup winner's medal on loan at Wigan in 2013.

There was an equaliser in a pre-season friendly under David Moyes and an Old Trafford cameo in Rio Ferdinand's testimonial, but Henriquez never made the seniors' bench and had additional loans with Real Zaragoza and Dinamo Zagreb before his 2015 departure. Still only 23, Henriquez is back in South America with Mexican side Atlas.

A South American homecoming will have to wait for Sanchez. Having suffered Champions League semifinal ejections with Barca and never going beyond the last 16 with Arsenal, he is about to assume the role of the catalyst at Old Trafford.

Sanchez emulated Salas by scoring both goals in Chile's second Wembley appearance in 2013 and now he is about to surpass him by playing for United.

supposed to be and he's over replacement," said. been the friendly. was only Salas evaded nobody will do it also following Barcelona. 2011 conquerers Barca. Had Sanchez joined Cityit is unlikely to have caused a stir in his homelands of Chile Samuel Luckhurst
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Manchester Evening News (Manchester, United Kingdom)
Geographic Code:3CHIL
Date:Jan 24, 2018
Words:747
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