RAGING Sir Alex Ferguson ‘battered’ Gary Pallister after scoring twice against Liverpool – for accidentally leaking state secrets.
During the 1996-97 season, Manchester United started to take their set-piece tactics more seriously after some advice from the ARMY.
In the week ahead of a top-of-the-table clash with Liverpool, Fergie kept his players late after training to work on corners and free-kicks, with David Beckham’s right foot given an almighty workout.
And United reaped the rewards, with Pallister scoring two goals – the only time he ever managed the feat in a single game – in a 3-1 win at Anfield.
But Pallister has told SunSport he took a blow to the head for his troubles, for revealing United’s secret ahead of a huge Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund.
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In an interview with Dream Team, Pallister revealed: “[Man Utd vs Liverpool was] the only time I ever scored two goals in a game.
“We very rarely did set pieces. The manager had a letter from an ex-army major, talking about decoys, saying we should incorporate them into our set pieces.
“So we spent the week before we played Liverpool after training doing set pieces.
“Becks was taking the corners, he put it on a sixpence.
“We go to Liverpool, I think we were first and second, and we scored two from set pieces and it was probably the game that decided the title that season.”
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Despite his heroics, Pallister got a ‘rollicking’ from Fergie for giving away their secret weapon in the run-up to their massive Champions League semi-final second-leg with Borussia Dortmund.
Pallister added: “We were playing Borussia Dortmund in the semi-finals of the Champions League on the Wednesday.
“So I’m in the dressing room celebrating, the gaffer’s gone out to do an interview, where unbeknown to me they ask him about the set pieces.
“He said it was just something off the cuff, so I’m oblivious to all this.
“The next thing I get the knock to go out and have a chat with the cameras and talk about the game.
“I’m thinking too right I will, so I’m going out there full of beans and it’s ‘yeah Palli, talk us through the goals’.”
Pallister – who’s tipping Sunday’s game to be a 1-1 draw – continued: “So I’ve said it’s something we’ve been working on all week.
“I’ve done that and I’ve come back in the dressing room and the manager’s battered me across the back of the head, going apoplectic with rage.
“He was like ‘what are you doing telling Borussia Dortmund we’ve been working on set pieces all week’.
“You can’t do right for doing wrong…. I scored two goals at Anfield to help us win the league, and still got a rollicking.”
United would go on to lose 1-0 to Dortmund in Germany, crashing out of the Champions League in the semi-final stage 2-0 on aggregate.
Liverpool host Man Utd in Sunday’s monumental Premier League six-pointer, with kick-off 4.30pm.
The Reds then head to Old Trafford a week later to fight for a spot in the fifth round of the FA Cup.