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Why Clive Tyldesley's 1999 Treble Commentary Was So Much Better Than BT Sport On Man City

By James Fenton Updated
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There are many comparisons to be made between Manchester City's Treble triumph of 2023, and that of Manchester United in 1999.

Most are pretty tedious at this stage - combined XIs, which team had the more difficult task, whose achievement will stand out in years to come.

It's fair to say that both treble successes were remarkable, but we weren't the only ones who felt a little underwhelmed on Saturday night, when final whistle blew at the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul.

Man City's Treble underwhelms

Man City's 1-0 victory over Inter Milan will be remembered fondly by the club's fans who were in attendance, as well as those watching at home.


For the neutrals watching on BT Sport though, it's hard to imagine the scenes will stand the test of time in the way that ITV's coverage of Man United's stunning comeback against Bayern Munich did.

On a night of multiple cringey moments brought to you by BT, the full-time monologue by commentator Darren Fletcher was clearly pre-prepared, with the line about Man City's journey being "greatest story in club history" feeling particularly jarring, when you consider the 115 charges against them for breaches of financial fair play.

There was also a weird mention of Noel Gallagher, and if you missed it, here's how Fletch decided to call Man City's moment of glory:


They've done it! Manchester City have done it! Once, twice, three times a champion, champions of Europe finally!

History made in Istanbul! The treble complete! The greatest story in club history has an ending and what a final chapter...

I asked Noel Gallagher, the iconic song writer and Man City fan, to sum up what this moments feels like to him.

He said 'there had been so many nights when these fans travelled home from Europe battered, bruised, beaten, and conquered, but not tonight, tonight the Manchester rain will taste like champagne.

For one thing, the weather in Manchester was actually quite good on Saturday, so that line about the rain made little sense.

Clive Tyldesley and his use of silence

Compare that with Clive Tyldesley for ITV back in 1999, and it really is chalk and cheese.


Granted, Tyldesley had a more dramatic climax to deal with, with United trailing 1-0 to Bayern Munich as the clock ticked towards injury time, with Alex Ferguson's Treble dream well and truly on the ropes.

"Can Manchester United score? They always score," pondered Tyldesley aloud, as David Beckham prepared to take a corner, while goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel ran forward to join his teammates in the opposing box.

"Beckham, in towards Schmeichel, it's come for Dwight Yorke, cleared... Giggs with the shot... SHERINGHAM!"


Cue eight seconds of perfect silence from Tyldesley, as viewers took in the euphoria pouring from the United section of the Nou Camp.

"Name on the trophy," he eventually continued. "Teddy Sheringham, with 30 seconds of added time played, has equalised for Manchester United, they are STILL in the European Cup!"


[Watch Video]

Clive Tyldesley's commentary has become iconic

The cadence and rhythm of that line is such that United fans still recite it 24 years later, with the emphasis on the word 'still' reflecting the sheer determination of the players, who weren't going to give up their dream so easily.

At this point, Tyldesley and co-commentator Ron Atkinson were no doubt preparing for another 30 minutes of extra-time, but United had other ideas as they poured forward once again.

"Is this their moment?" asked Tyldesley, less than two minutes later, as Beckham placed the ball down for another of his trademark deliveries.

"Beckham... into Sheringham... AND SOLSKJAER HAS WON IT!"

The promised land

It was at this point that Tyldesley went from respected media figure to iconic commentator in the hearts of millions of Red Devils supporters, and again silence was used to paint the picture.

This time, Tyldesley paused for a full 10 seconds, once again allowing the pictures to speak for themselves.

"Manchester United have reached the promised land," were the seven words chosen to break that golden silence, followed by:

"Ole Solskjaer... The two substitutes have scored the two goals in stoppage time... and the Treble looms large."


"It's the gaps... the pauses after the two goals."

When it comes to capturing a moment - or two moments in this case - it's hard to imagine anyone could have called it better than Tyldesley.

Since that night in Barcelona, Tyldesley has relived his iconic words on multiple occasions, stating in a 2020 interview that its was the words he didn't say that he was most proud of.

"If there’s anything about my commentary that I’m particularly proud of, it’s the gaps… the pauses after the two goals," he told the Evening Standard, adding:

"Without being too dramatic about it, if I’d messed up those three minutes, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation now… it was an important night for me and therefore probably the most important game in my career.”

Whatever your allegiances, it's hard to argue that Man City's is the greatest story in the history of Manchester, let alone club football.

And without being too harsh on Darren Fletcher, who didn't have as much to work with, it's Tyldesley's Treble commentary that is more likely to be remembered for years to come.

See Also: Rio Ferdinand Angers Man United Fans With Guardiola "Greatest" Comment

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