Alan Shearer is bearing down on Peter Schmeichel. Schmeichel has wellied the ball so far it is nearer Tim Flowers in the Blackburn goal. Yet Shearer raises his boot and brands Schmeichel's thigh with his studs.
En masse, the Old Trafford denizens chant:
F--k off Shearer,
F--k off Shearer,
F--k off Shearer
Wherever United matchgoers are sat, they stand to chastise Shearer. The referee Keith Burge flourishes yellow when the offence warrants a red. In that era, this era, any era.
It is February 1996 and United are championship challengers and Blackburn also-rans. Shearer has been heckled before at the Stretford End, when he sliced a far post finish in United's 1-0 win in January 1995, the game Eric Cantona scored his final goal before he introduced his own studs to Matthew Simmons at Selhurst Park.
That was the year one of the immortal Old Trafford fan photographs was captured, of the K Stand mercilessly mocking the Manchester City striker Niall Quinn.
There is face paint, denim, curtains hairstyles, shellsuit jackets. Unbridled schadenfreude is etched on Mancunians' faces. A portly man with a 'tache is crouched down and cupping his hand, mimicking a gesture. A similar image depicting the Stretford End's disdain for Shearer does not exist.
The money shot of Shearer in M16 was taken in May 1998, of him revelling in Newcastle's 1-1 draw, the game Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took out Rob Lee and was expelled. United avoided defeat but had all but lost the title to Arsenal. Shearer, chided in Solskjaer's song, celebrated a draw like a win.
"Oh Alan Shearer is f-----g dearer, so please don't take my Solskjaer away," the chant goes. Usually, when United deride a specific player it is a consequence of their allegiance to Liverpool, Leeds or City. Shearer was a Geordie who once played for Blackburn, the 'small town in Burnley'.
Like the kids in the neighbourhood carrying Henry Hill's mother's groceries all the way home, United fans' taunting of Shearer - which continues to this day - is out of respect.
Solskjaer cost United £1.5million and the same digits appeared in Shearer's fee - minus the decimal point. His £15m transfer from Blackburn to Newcastle in 1996 was a world record. Shearer posed on a makeshift stand at St James' Park in front of sea of black and white, looking more like a rock star on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury than a footballer.
Newcastle had squandered a 12-point advantage over United the previous season and their supporters were so delirious at the Shearer coup it seemed to atone for Kevin Keegan cracking. The cover of the Premier League Merlin sticker album for that season was graced by Shearer and Eric Cantona - the partnership Ferguson had dreamt of.
What was so unusual about United's failure to sign Shearer was they were not accustomed to being blown out of the water. Midway through the 1994-95 season, Ferguson resolved to address United's profligacy by buying a top-flight striker, settling on a shortlist of Stan Collymore, Les Ferdinand and Andy Cole. United plumped for the £7m Cole and, in the summer of '95, Collymore joined Liverpool and Ferdinand headed to Newcastle.
Ferguson dismissed Shearer as Blackburn were United's championship competitors. United wanted Shearer in 1992 but dithered over the financing of what would have been a club-record deal. Blackburn's grandstanding owner Jack Walker sanctioned a £3.3m deal.
Once bitten, United were not twice shy on the eve of Euro 96. Blackburn had suffered a drastic drop-off following the 1995 title triumph, finishing seventh in 1995-96. Shearer still ended the campaign as the league's top scorer.
The myth is United only signed Solskjaer after Shearer rejected them for his boyhood club. In actual fact, Solskjaer had already signed for United before Ferguson met Shearer in the summer of 1996.
"Jimmy Ryan saw him (Solskjaer) score twice and came home with the message - just sign him, you can't miss with this one," Ferguson wrote in A Will to Win, his diary for the 1996-97 season. In the same entry, dated Thursday 23 May, Ferguson adds: "I haven't ruled out the possibility of getting Alan Shearer to Old Trafford and that would be a transfer which would certainly need our millions. I'm working on that one."
Ferguson spoke to Shearer's agent, Tony Stephens, to gauge the striker's intentions before the European Championship began. Stephens confirmed Shearer wanted out of Blackburn after four years, emboldening Ferguson. Gary Neville had already informed Ferguson that Shearer had told him on international duty he was keen on United.
The trap Ferguson fell into that summer was to sign two players on the back of the tournament - Jordi Cruyff and Karel Poborsky. Ferguson had admittedly been taken by Cruyff since he started in the Barcelona 'Dream Team's 4-0 dismantling of United in 1994, masterminded by his father, Johan.
Yet Ferguson was only tipped off about Poborsky by an agent before the Czech Republic's first match at Old Trafford against Germany. Three weeks later, he decided to go for him.
Ferguson tasked United's chief scout Les Kershaw with covering all 35 games at the Championship for an 'ambitious newcomer who's looking for a chance at a major club'. Ferguson had sounded out Eric Cantona about Zinedine Zidane with the intention of playing him as a right winger.
Ferguson enjoyed a warm rapport with staff at ITV in the 90s and had agreed to some punditry work during the Euros. Amusingly, he was reunited with Keegan barely a month on from the 'I will luv it' rant on live television at Elland Road. Keegan did not mention his immortal interview and offered Ferguson a drink.
On the eve of the opening match between England and Switzerland, Ferguson and Keegan were interviewed by Jim Rosenthal on Wembley Way and the gregarious Keegan cut the ice by mock-strangling a cackling Ferguson. Shearer scored the tournament's first goal - and his first for England in almost two years.
"Alex is very lucky because 20 years ago, when I watched Donny Rose, I used to have one of these," Keegan said, lifting a rattle. "And they were made of wood, but for safety standards now they're made of plastic." Keegan playfully tapped Ferguson on the head.
The memory of Blackburn gazumping United in 1992 still lingered for Ferguson, fretting he would be burned twice. After a board meeting on July 4, the United chairman Martin Edwards approached Blackburn about Shearer and received a rebuttal.
Walker had somehow got it into his head there was a tribal rivalry between United and Blackburn. Ferguson derided Blackburn's 60s heyday, noting it was a decade when Burnley and Ipswich were English champions.
Ferguson flew to America for a wedding following Germany's 2-1 final victory over the Czechs but was becoming anxious. He returned a week later to discover little had changed with Shearer.
Then came the breakthrough in late July: Blackburn had granted Shearer permission to speak to clubs and Stephens called Ferguson to arrange a meeting the next day.
It was Monday July 22. Ferguson attended a board meeting at Old Trafford and informed the United directors of his rendezvous. They soon became as excited as he was. At a secluded location for the meeting, Ferguson's mood was dampened when Stephens confessed Shearer had appointments scheduled with Newcastle the following day, as well as Arsenal.
Ferguson was disturbed, but undeterred. He talked up a partnership with Cantona, gave Shearer the heads-up on the signings of Cruyff and Poborsky, highlighted the maturity of United's Class of '92, outlined the quest for the European Cup and how United's captivating style was tailor made for the number nine. It was such a stirring sell Ferguson was convinced Shearer cannot resist choosing United.
Shearer's two requests were egomaniacal: he wanted to replace Cantona as United's penalty-taker and wear the number nine, occupied by the ageing Brian McClair. The squad number switch would not be a problem but spotkick responsibility was dependent on Cantona failing. Cantona missed his first penalty for United in the second month of the season at Leeds.
Stephens assured Ferguson he would contact him in three days, so Ferguson flew to Barcelona to negotiate Cruyff's fee down to £500,000. After the meetings with Newcastle and Arsenal, Stephens stressed to Ferguson Shearer's preference was United and they would approach Walker, holed up in his tax retreat in Jersey. Walker reiterated Shearer would not be sold to United.
Ferguson travels to make a presentation at the Milk Cup in Northern Ireland but his mind is elsewhere. His mobile phone is not ringing and when he tries Stephens there is no answer. Suddenly, he becomes overwhelmed with regret.
He tries Stephens again the next day and still no reply. He tries again the day after and still nobody picks up the phone. Back when mobiles were the size of bricks, Ferguson presciently remarks the mobile phone has become the most important part of his life. Eventually, he switches it off in disgust.
When he finally gets hold of Stephens on the Monday, he is told: "I'm sorry, Alan has agreed to join Newcastle."
Ferguson feels sick, then he is white-hot with anger. The faces of John Barnes, Peter Beardsley and Paul Gascogine flash before him. The Hairdryer will blow in Stephens's face again when he represents David Beckham.
The pursuit of Shearer was so public United addressed it on their 1996-97 season review video. "The man at the top of his summer shopping list was, again, heading elsewhere," Clive Tyldesley cautions. "You Know Who was going home to Newcastle."
"His meeting with Jack Walker was crucial to Alan, myself and Newcastle," Ferguson reflected. "But, from what I can gather, Jack Walker says over his dead body: he can't go to Manchester United. He probably broke down crying."
In a voxpop outside Old Trafford, a Brylcreemed Red chirps: "He's going to the wrong club again, isn't he?" Another claims: "Should've come here and he'd have won more things."
Shearer won nothing with Newcastle.