Manchester United winning the 2012 – 2013 Premier League Title. Photo:premierleague.com
Manchester United , Man U or the “Red Devils”, is the biggest and perhaps the most well known football club not only in England but across the globe. It has the largest fan base in the world,
with an estimation tabulation of over 50 million supporters. The club currently holds the record for the greatest average attendance in England for 36 out of the last 40 years. Their old Traffold stadium located in the heart of greater Manchester is always packed, consistently full to the maximum capacity for every single home game which amounts to 76,000 spectators. Without a doubt, Manchester United is one of the most successful football clubs over the last 20 years, breaking and setting records that almost seem impossible to break. Not to be mistaken by its brother club, Manchester City, in fact both clubs stand toe to toe with one another, both in terms of popularity and performance. However, the glory of the club did not come easy, and they were not as successful as wealthy as it is today.
Origin of Manchester United
Old picture of the Newton Health LYR Football Club in 1878.
Back in 1878, Manchester United went by a different name, as Newton Heath LYR Football Club
was founded by the Carriage and Wagon department of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway
(LYR) depot. The team back then usually just played games against the other departments of the company or companies beyond. However, the team went ahead to compete in their ever recorded match, only to be crushed by the opposing team 6-0 by the Bolton Wanderers’ reserve team. Despite all that, the team still managed to enter the First Division of the Football League in 1892, only to be relegated just after 2 seasons.
It then came when the team was suffering a huge debt amounting to £260,000 of today’s currency. Team captain, Harry Stafford managed to find 4 local investors to save the club and with that,
they officially changed their name to Manchester United and proceeded to fight their way back to the First Division. Subsequently, they were announced winners of the league in 1908. The following season then came victory in the first ever Charity Shield and lasted till the club’s first Football Association (FA) Cup title. They then achieved their second win in 1911 but it all went shaky from then on.
Records over the years
Manchester United during the 1930s. Photo: manutdupdates.com
Manchester United then went onto a rollercoaster of relegation , along with a series of ups and downs.
- In 1931, the club hit all time low at 20th place in the Second Division in 1934.
- Death of principal benefactor , John Henry Davies in October 1927, causing the company on the brink of bankruptcy if not for James W. Gibson.
- Manchester United to finish 14th in the First Division in the 1938 – 1939 season.
- Matt Busby was appointed manager in October 1945, leading the team to a series of victories, from 2nd place league finish in 1947,1948 and 1949 with a FA Cup victory in 1948.
- Manchester United finally won its first league title in 1952, 41 years after the team formation.
- In 1957, Manchester United became the first English team to compete in the European Cup.
- The team broke a record in terms of the biggest victory with a score of 10-0 against Belgian Champions Anderlecht.
- In 1958, during the Munich Air Disaster, claimed 23 lives of the players, including 8 players namely – Geoff Bent, Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Duncan Edwards, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Tommy Taylor and Billy Whelan – and injured several more. Although it took quite awhile, Busby managed to acquire new talents and led them to win the FA Cup in 1963.
Photo of Alex Ferguson waving to fans. Photo: telegraph.co.uk
However, it wasn’t until 1986 when Alex Ferguson took over as Manchester United Manager that things started to take off for the club. Although it was a shaky one from the start, from a 2nd place finish in the league in the 1986- 1987 season to a 11th place finish in the following season. Rumoured to be on the verge of being fired, the club attained victory over Crystal Palace in the 1990 FA Cup final which ended up saving Ferguson’s career.
In the following season, Manchester United then claimed their very first Cup Winners’ Cup title, while beating down on European Cup holders Red Star Belgrade during the 1991 European Super Cup. The club then won its first Premier League title ever since 1967 and again in the following years, winning a second consecutive title together with the FA Cup. Thus, completing the first “Double” in the club’s entire history. The Red Devils then became the first English club to do the Double twice when they went on to claim the titles again in the 1995-1996 season before preserving the title once more in the 1996 – 1997 season, even with an extra game to spare. In the 1998-99 season, they became the first ever team to achieve “the treble” where a win in all 3 leagues (English Premier League, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League) is needed within the same season. The club then won the Intercontinental Cup defeating Palmeiras with a score of 1-0 in Tokyo where Ferguson was subsequently knighted for his services to his passion of football.
The club then proceeded to carry on the streak, breaking records and winning leagues several times over. Although in the midst of it all, they like any other clubs will suffer a hiccup along the way which in this case for example, failing to qualify for the knockout phase of the UEFA Champions League during the 2005 – 2006 season for the first time in over a decade. Manchester United is also known to have produced numerous top talents such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Pogba and more recently Marcus Rashford. Manchester United broke the world football transfer record back in 2009 when their star player, Cristiano Ronaldo moved to Real Madrid for a colossal amount of £80 million.
Present Day Manchester United
Manchester United Lineup for season 2019 – 2020 . Photo: worldfootball.net
It was on 8 May 2013 when Ferguson made the decision and announced that he was to retire as manager and assume the position of the club as both director and club ambassador. From then on, there has been a series of coaches and managers switching in and out. For example, upon Ferguson’s departure, Ryan Giggs stepped in as interim manager to replace David Moyes when
he failed to defend their Premier League title and to qualify for the UEFA Champions League for the very first time ever since the 1995 – 1996 season.
On 19 May 2014, Louis van Gaal was then appointed as the new team manager of Manchester United under a 3 year long contract. Louis van Gaal has always been managing top level European Football for the past 20 years and have helped teams in winning leagues and championships. However, it was in 2016 when he was fired as manager despite churning out positive results in winning the FA Cup for the 12th time within the same year. José Mourinho then took over his spot
on 27 May while producing mediocre results. However, the club still managed to qualify for the Champions League through their Europa League victory which still led to United’s all time top scorer, Wayne Rooney to leave the club, seeking greener pasture at Everton. And once again, Mourinho was sacked due to poor performance and results and next that came in line was a former Manchester United player, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Picture of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer . Photo: skysports.com
Reflecting the same kind of results in recent times, Manchester United looks unstoppable but at some times, look shaky. With that said, no one will be able to replicate the kind of success and progress that Ferguson did during his days of service.
Till present day, Manchester United still continue to stand high in terms of both performance and
popularity among all fans from across the world. Follow this space for the latest match highlights, transfer news and updates on Manchester United.