Mind games can make or break a match, and former Manchester United goalkeeper Fabien Barthez used to look trying out out-psych an opponent, but Paolo Di Canio was a different kettle of fish.
United had cruised to a 3-1 win over the Hammers once already in January 2001, as the London club headed north for a fourth-round FA Cup clash.
What’s more, Sir Alex Ferguson’s men had lost just two of their 24 Premier League fixtures, and already a 13-point lead over surprise second-placed Sunderland.
But despite endless chances, the all-conquering Red Devils came unstuck against the Hammers, as Paolo Di Canio won the war of mind-games with Fabien Barthez.
15 years after that famous victory, we’re taking a look back at a West Ham team that had bags of potential…
The Trinidad & Tobago stopper got in the way of pretty much everything United threw at him.
Signed by West Ham 1998, Hislop was a star for the East London side before the club signed David James from Aston Villa in 2001.
The Finnish defender only played 10 games for the Hammers during a loan-spell from Viking, but he dug his heels to stop wave after wave of Man United attacks.
After well over 400 appearances for Arsenal, Nigel Winterburn was still playing at the top aged 37 when the Hammers went to Old Trafford.
Psycho was in the final months of his two-year spell at West Ham, but his and Winterburn’s experience proved crucial in keeping United at bay.
Dailly had only joined the Hammers earlier in the month after falling out with Graeme Sounness at Blackburn, but again kept his calm to keep West Ham in the game.
Once regarded by Metz President Carlo Molinari as ‘phemonenally unstable’ Harry Redknapp took a gamble by bringing Sebastian Schemmel to Upton Park in 2001.
It paid off, for a season at least, with the Frenchman another excellent performance at Old Trafford, and was named West Ham’s Player of the Year in his first-full season.
Lampard had been a regular for the Hammers for nearly three seasons by this point, and speculation was building over his future. Struggled to make an impact in this one-sided contest, and would leave for Chelsea that summer in a £10m move.
Trying to keep West Ham flowing against his future club, Carrick struggled to keep up against a classic United midfield of Giggs – Keane – Butt – Beckham, but the 19-year-old held his own.
Another of West Ham’s golden generation, Cole nearly handed his side the winner with a long-range effort which Barthez spilled.
While everyone heads down memory lane to remember Di Canio’s goal, it’s often over-looked how brilliant Kanoute’s through-ball is.
Di Canio makes Barthez look like a fool, but Kanoute did that to the entire United defence.
Paolo Di Canio
The talisman of this youthful and exciting side, Di Canio only ever did what Di Canio wanted to do.
Had any other striker been up against Barthez and his baffling raised arm, perhaps the game would have gone differently, but it wasn’t, and the Italian made Barthez look rather sheepish as he caused a memorable FA Cup upset.
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