How Sir Alex Ferguson kicked off his Manchester United success story against Norwich City

Norwich City goalkeeper Bryan Gunn jumps to punch clear during a Manchester United attack at Carrow

Norwich City goalkeeper Bryan Gunn jumps to punch clear during a Manchester United attack at Carrow Road in November, 1986. - Credit: Archant

Amid all the tributes to Sir Alex Ferguson after the announcement of his retirement as manager at Old Trafford, few will recall that his first point as Manchester United boss came against Norwich City.

The Carrow Road fixture was Ferguson's second game in charge – and the Division One meeting back in November 1986 produced a goalless but very eventful 90 minutes.

United had been beaten 2-0 at Oxford United a week earlier, but must have fancied their chances of giving their new boss his first victory when the Canaries were reduced to 10 men two minutes into the second half by injuries to Ian Culverhouse and David Hodgson.

They held on thanks partly to an inspired performance by 22-year-old goalkeeper Bryan Gunn, making only his third appearance for the club after who else but Ferguson had sold him to Norwich for £100,000 a month earlier in one of his last acts as Aberdeen manager.

Ferguson, just nine days into his reign, admitted afterwards: 'This is a rare occasion. I'm not often happy with a draw.'

For Gunn, whose saves from Jesper Olsen, Peter Davenport, Remi Moses and Davenport earned him the man of the match award, it was a memorable afternoon in front of a crowd of 22,684.

'We played nearly the whole of the second half with 10 men,' recalled Gunn. 'I don't remember much about any saves, but I do remember tackling Remi Moses almost on the halfway line as United broke away from a corner. I don't think people expected to see that.

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'As manager of Aberdeen, Alex used to encourage his goalkeepers to play as sweeper on the edge of the box.

'I had a little bit of a reputation as an outfield player so I thought I'd put it to the test.

'I don't think he was best pleased but as I left the field I said something to him like 'You taught me too well'.'

Indeed, when Ferguson, then plain Alex, bumped into his former 'keeper and one-time babysitter clutching the man of the match champagne, he told him: 'I deserve that, you bandit. It was me who sold you to Norwich.'

Speaking in 2011 on Ferguson's 25th anniversary as United boss, Gunn paid his own tribute to his old boss, who overcame a difficult start to his reign to lead United to nearly two decades of dominance in English football.

'I joined a Norwich side that was on the way up and was above United in the first division table at the time,' he said.

'United have been rewarded for their loyalty for sticking with Sir Alex, as he is now, because it wasn't until 1990 that he won a trophy and it was Mark Robins, who later joined Norwich, who probably saved his job with that goal in the FA Cup at Nottingham Forest.

'It is a tremendous achievement, as illustrated by the amount of silverware he has brought to the red side of Manchester and all the plaudits from the other Premier League managers. It has been an amazing career.'