If previous meetings between Manchester United and West Ham are any indication, there should be plenty of goals put away on Saturday. The two clubs have often turned on the entertainment with scorelines of 5-3 at Upton Park and 6-0 at Old Trafford but the 7-1 on the first April Fools day of the ‘noughties’ stands out as the biggest defeat the Hammers ever suffered at the hands of United. One of the highlights was Paul Scholes’ first hat trick for the club but a young Rio Ferdinand lining up in the West Ham defence must have wondered what hit him. Perhaps the biggest sympathy must go to Hammers goalkeeper Craig Forrest who was on the receiving end of the heaviest Premiership defeat in history when Ipswich went down 9-0 to United five years earlier.
Manchester United 7 v West Ham 1
From PA Sport – 1st April 2000
So, Harry, Manchester United aren’t playing as well as they did last season? Harry Redknapp’s claim that United have not been hitting the heights they scaled 12 months ago looks rather foolish after this demolition job. The West Ham manager’s assessment of United’s form rebounded on him in spectacular fashion as the Treble winners racked up their biggest win of the season. They are now 10 points clear in the championship race and strolling towards their sixth Premiership title in eight years.
Paul Scholes inflicted most of the damage on the sorry Hammers as the England midfielder notched up his first hat-trick for United, including a sweet backheel for his second. Heavens knows what Real Madrid will make of this result and if they were slightly apprehensive about facing United in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday, they will be downright terrified after this.
Ferguson, whose testimonial dinner was being held in Manchester after the game, had fielded a formidable side despite Tuesday’s game. Quinton Fortune replaced Ryan Giggs and Mickael Silvestre kept his place, but back came Denis Irwin and Jaap Stam while Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke continued in attack.
West Ham, who have still not beaten United in the Premiership, could not afford any such luxuries and they were without the likes of Neil Ruddock, Javier Margas and Igor Stimac. Also missing with a hip injury was Paolo di Canio, who scored that goal against Wimbledon last Sunday, and Paulo Wanchope took over in his place.
Wanchope has still to win over the majority of the Hammers fans in his first season with the club, but his popularity rating must have risen after he gave the visitors a surprise lead after just 11 minutes with his 11th goal of the campaign. Frederic Kanoute flicked the ball on and the leggy Costa Rican held off Silvestre before hitting a left-foot shot which trickled in at the far post, even though Mark Bosnich got a hand to it.
Most people must have thought that scoreline was some kind of April Fool’s Day joke as it flashed across the land, but United were not laughing. The goal only seemed to make United angry and they piled forward in search of an equaliser. It duly came on 24 minutes courtesy of Scholes. It was not quite in the same league as his strike against Bradford, but his 20-yard drive was still impressive nonetheless.
Two minutes later United were 2-1 in front. Steve Potts brought down Roy Keane for a penalty and Irwin scored from the rebound after Craig Forrest had parried his spot-kick. United were rampant and Fortune set up Scholes for another piledriver only for Forrest, who was in goal for Ipswich when United thumped them 9-0 five years ago, to pull off a great flying save.
It was all United now although Bosnich almost gifted West Ham an equaliser. He came and missed Scott Minto’s right wing free kick and fortunately for the Australian Kanoute’s header sailed just wide of the goal. United then survived a penalty appeal when Minto bounced off Keane before the home side scored again in stoppage time.
David Beckham sent over a terrific cross from the right and Cole rose to head home goal number 21 for the season. United were not finished yet and Forrest did well to smother Fortune’s right-foot effort. But the Canadian was totally fooled 60 seconds later when Scholes netted number four for United with an impudent goal on 51 minutes. Once again Beckham was the provider and when he crossed into the middle, Scholes flicked the ball into the far corner of the net with the back of his heel.
Still United kept going and Scholes completed his first hat-trick for the club from the penalty spot on 62 minutes after Rio Ferdinand had brought down substitute Nicky Butt, who had replaced Keane five minutes earlier. The noise inside Old Trafford went up another few decibels four minutes later when East Ender Beckham scored for the third match in succession with a 20-yard trademark free-kick to rub further salt in West Ham’s wounds.
United refused to show West Ham any mercy and in the 73rd minute Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who had only been on the pitch for five minutes as a replacement for Scholes, netted number seven. It might even have been more and Butt hit the post in one of the few breaks West Ham got all afternoon.
Manchester United – Bosnich, G. Neville, Stam, Silvestre, Irwin, Beckham, Keane (Butt 57), Scholes (Solskjaer 69), Fortune, Cole (Sheringham 68), Yorke Goals – Scholes 3, Irwin, Cole, Beckham, Solskjaer
West Ham – Forrest, Lomas, Ferdinand, Potts, Minto, Sinclair, Foe, Lampard, Moncur, Wanchope, Kanoute Goal – Wanchope
Does anyone have memories of Rio Ferdinand playing for West Ham that afternoon?