After helping Manchester United achieve the treble during the 1998-99 campaign, long-serving goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel made the decision to depart Old Trafford, leaving Sir Alex Ferguson with the unenviable job of attempting to find a replacement for the legendary Dane. That resulted in Ferguson swooping for both Mark Bosnich, who had been at Aston Villa, and Massimo Taibi, who had spent the previous campaign at Venezia, to create competition in the shot-stopping ranks at the club.
Neither acquisition was greeted with wholehearted approval from the club's supporters and their lack of optimism was justified on this day 16 years ago. Ahead of their clash with Southampton, while United had not conceded a goal in the Champions League against both Dinamo Zagreb and Sturm Graz, they had gone five successive games without keeping a clean sheet in the Premier League in what had otherwise been an unbeaten start to the campaign.
Taibi had only been in between the posts for two of those games, but it took just five minutes for Southampton to ensure that he would be without a shutout on his third appearance. After receiving the ball 30 yards from goal, Marian Pahars was allowed to turn before nut-megging Jaap Stam, creating space for himself to advance towards goal and wrong-foot Taibi from inside the penalty area.
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It was a goal that rocked Old Trafford. Not only had Southampton suffered defeat in four of their seven Premier League fixtures since the start of the season, they had also lost on their previous 10 visits to the Theatre of Dreams. It took United time to find their feet, but on 34 minutes the equaliser came from Teddy Sheringham, who got ahead of his marker at the near post to convert David Beckham's cross into the bottom corner.
Three minutes later, normal service was resumed as United completed the comeback. Southampton goalkeeper Paul Jones had twice pulled off terrific saves to deny Sheringham, but at the third time of asking, the England international whipped a pin-point pass towards the edge of the six-yard box, where Dwight Yorke was on hand to head the ball into the far corner.
United supporters may have had sympathy for Jones, who had made two interventions in front of the East Stand that would have only brought back memories of Schmeichel. However, Old Trafford were unable to reminisce for long as shortly after half time, Taibi made the clanger that would haunt him for the rest of his short-lived spell in the North-West.
After former United favourite Mark Hughes had progressed towards the penalty area, he turned to lay off the ball to Matt Le Tissier, who decided to try his luck from 30 yards. His scuffed attempt should have been easy work for the goalkeeper, but after diving forward to collect the shot, the ball squirmed through Taibi's arms and legs and trickled over the line, much to the shock and disgust of the fans behind the goal.
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The home side soon made amends, with Yorke driving the ball into the top corner from 12 yards to restore United's advantage, but Taibi would be picking the ball out of his net for the third time with 15 minutes remaining. This time, the mistake came from Mikael Silvestre, who was dispossessed by Pahars, who crossed for Le Tissier to provide the calm finish into the corner with Taibi well beaten.
United would push for a winner that didn't materialise, and Taibi would go a small way to redeeming himself by sticking out a leg to deny James Beattie in the final minute. However, as far as his career at the Premier League champions was concerned, the writing was on the wall.
Despite his glaring error, Taibi would retain his place for the following game away at Chelsea, but the occasion proved to be another day to forget for the Italian. United had gone 29 games without a league defeat - a run stretching back to the previous year - but a mistake from Taibi after just 27 seconds allowed Gus Poyet to score the opening goal and put the Blues on their way to a resounding 5-0 triumph at Stamford Bridge.
Manchester United: Taibi, Irwin, Stam, Berg, Silvestre, Beckham, Butt, Scholes, Solskjaer, Yorke, Sheringham
Subs: Bosnich, Wilson, Cruyff, Neville, Fortune
Southampton: Jones, Dodd, Lundekvam, Richards, Benali, Ripley, Soltvedt, Oakley, Kachloul, Pahars, Hughes
Subs: Moss, Beattie, Marsden, Colleter, Le Tissier