Laughter was banned and nobody dared speak on the bus heading back to Aberdeen from Liverpool in 1980 for fear of Sir Alex Ferguson’s wrath.
The manager was not happy and was threatening to hit his Dons’ players in their pockets if anyone tried lightening the mood.
Before embarking on success at Old Trafford, Ferguson interrupted Celtic and Rangers’ dominance north of the border with AberdeenGetty Images – Getty
A second round European Cup clash had ended in a 5-0 aggregate win for Liverpool, with a 4-0 loss coming at Anfield in what was Fergie’s first visit to the stadium – it has been suggested this is where his eagerness to knock them off their perch came from.
So angry was the manager that he kept looking back, trying to catch someone out.
It was no shame to be beaten by Liverpool, who in Kenny Dalglish, Alan Hansen and Graeme Souness, had a strong Scottish edge. They were the best in the country.
And after winning at Pittodrie, all-conquering Liverpool welcomed Aberdeen to Anfield where they had not lost for 76 matches and they extended that record with a 4-0 win.
Fergie, serving a touchline ban, could only watch on and pray for a quick and painless end.
Writing in his book, A Light in the North, he said: “Towards the end of the game I told Willie Garner – I was still banned from the bench and Willie was acting as a runner for me – that we might as well put on young Neale Cooper for the experience. ‘And’, I said, ‘while you’re down there, tell the referee to blow the bloody whistle!’
“That summed up how I felt. I was never so glad to get a game out of the way in my whole life.”
Still, the loss helped him propel Aberdeen to the heights fans haven’t seen since.
Ferguson bounced back from losing to Liverpool with Aberdeen and eventually usurped them at the top with his Man United teamGetty Images – Getty
He made notes and those tough lessons later saw the Dons beat Bayern Munich and then Real Madrid to win the Cup Winners Cup in 1983.
Three years later he had the Man United job and set about usurping Liverpool as Britain’s most dominant side to become the team of the 90s and noughties.
The tables have turned, though, and it’s Liverpool who are the team to beat once again.
And Fergie even predicted as much when he saw Jurgen Klopp take the reigns in 2015.
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher told the Daily Telegraph: “Outside Anfield, there was only one high-profile figure in the game who tried to convince me Klopp could bring the title to Anfield.
“I should have listened to Sir Alex Ferguson. I will never forget meeting Sir Alex when I played in Michael Carrick’s testimonial in June, 2017. ‘You’ve got yourself a manager, there,’ Fergie told me.
“It was the look he gave me which was most revealing, as he explained how impressed he had been with Klopp during Champions League coaching seminars.
“He felt, and exhibited, no inferiority complex, and Ferguson intuitively knew he was perfect for Liverpool.”
All eyes will be on Anfield this Sunday now as United look to go six points ahead of Liverpool, who moved an eye-watering 30 points clear of Solskjaer’s side with a 2-0 victory when they last met in January 2020.