Manchester United F.C.

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Template:Football club infobox Manchester United Football Club is an English football club, based at Old Trafford Football Ground in Trafford, Greater Manchester. The club is one of the most successful clubs in England, having won the FA Premier League/Football League fifteen times, FA Cup eleven times and the European Cup/UEFA Champions League twice and is consequently recognised as one of the biggest brands in sport. The club has had the highest average attendance in English football for the majority of the past fifty seasons and thus is considered the biggest football club in England.

The club was formed as Newton Heath (L & Y.R.) F.C. in 1878 as the works team of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway depot at Newton Heath. After nearing bankuptcy in 1902, the club was taken over by J.H. Davies who changed its name to Manchester United. United appointed Sir Matt Busby as manager after the Second World War, and his then-unheard-of policy of producing most of the players through the club's youth team brought great success, with the club winning the Football League in 1956 and 1957. This success was halted by the Munich air disaster of 1958, in which eight of the club's players died. It was thought that the club might fold, but once Busby had recovered from his injuries he built another great team which went on to win the football league in 1965 and 1967, and became the first English winners of the European Cup in 1968.

The club did not see great success again until the 1990s and early 2000s, when Sir Alex Ferguson guided them to eight league championships in eleven years. In 1999, Manchester United became the first team to win the FA Premier League, the FA Cup and the European Cup in the same season — a record that has still not been equalled. The club had been run as a Public Limited Company since 1991, and a takeover was a real possiblility. An attempted takeover by Rupert Murdoch had been blocked by the British Government in 1999, but in 2005 Malcolm Glazer completed a hostile takeover of the club, despite considerable protests from many of United's supporters.



Early years (1878-1945)

Main article: Manchester United pre-1945

The club were formed as Newton Heath (Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway) (Newton Heath (L&YR) for short) by a group of Manchester railway workers in 1878. The name was soon shortened to Newton Heath. They were founder members of the Football Alliance in 1889 and joined the Football League in 1892 when it merged with the Football Alliance.

The earliest known film of Manchester United is the 2–0 victory at Burnley on 6 December 1902, filmed by Mitchell and Kenyon.

The club faced bankruptcy in 1902 and was rescued by J.H. Davies who paid off the club's debts and changed the name to Manchester United and changed the team's colours from gold and green to red and white. They won the league in 1908 and, with financial assistance from Davies, moved from Bank Street to a new stadium at Old Trafford in 1910.

The team struggled between the first and second world wars, and by time the second world war began they were £70,000 in debt.

The Busby years (1945-1969)

Main article: Manchester United 1945-1969

Matt Busby was appointed manager in 1945 and took a then-unheard of approach to his job, joining the players for training as well as performing administrative tasks. He was immediately successful, with the club finishing second in the league in 1947 and winning the FA Cup in 1948.

He adopted a policy of bringing in players from the youth team whenever possible, and the team won the league in 1956 with an average age of only 22. The following season, they won the league again and reached the FA Cup final, losing to Aston Villa. They also became the first English team to compete in the European Cup, and reached the semi-final.

Tragedy struck the following season, when the plane carrying the team home from a European Cup match crashed on take off at a refuelling stop in Munich. The Munich air disaster of 6 February, 1958 claimed the lives of eight players and another fifteen passengers. There was talk of the club folding but, with Jimmy Murphy taking over as manager while Matt Busby recovered from his injuries, the club continued playing with a makeshift side. They somehow reached the FA Cup final again, where they lost to Bolton.

Busby rebuilt the team throughout the early 1960s, signing players such as Denis Law and Pat Crerand. The team won the FA Cup in 1963, then won the league in 1965 and 1967 and the European Cup in 1968, the first English Club to do so. This team was notable for containing three European Footballers of the Year: Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and George Best. Busby resigned as manager in 1969 and was replaced by the reserve-team coach and former United player Wilf McGuinness.


Main article: Manchester United 1969-1986
Manchester United F.C badge in the 1970's.

United struggled to replace Busby, and the team struggled under Wilf McGuinness and Frank O'Farrell before Tommy Docherty became manager at the end of 1972. Docherty, or 'the Doc', saved United from relegation that season but United were relegated in 1974. The team won promotion at the first attempt and reached the FA Cup final in 1976, but were beaten by Southampton. They reached the final again in 1977, beating Liverpool and preventing their opponents from completing the first ever treble, which United would go on to win in 1999. In spite of this success, and his popularity with the supporters, Docherty was sacked soon after the final when he was found to have had an affair with the physiotherapist's wife.

Dave Sexton replaced Docherty as manager in the summer of 1977, and made the team play in a more defensive formation. This style was unpopular with supporters, who were used to the attacking football preferred by Docherty and Busby, and after failing to win a trophy Sexton was sacked in 1981.

He was replaced by the flamboyant Ron Atkinson who immediately broke the British record transfer fee to sign Bryan Robson from West Brom. Atkinson's team featured new signings such as Jesper Olsen and Gordon Strachan playing alongside the former youth-team players Norman Whiteside and Mark Hughes. United won the FA Cup in 1983 and 1985 and were overwhelming favourites to win the league in the 1985-86 season after winning their first ten league games, opening a ten-point gap over their rivals as early as October. The team's form collapsed, however, and United finished the season in fourth place. The poor form continued into the following season, and with United on the edge of the First Division's relegation zone, Atkinson was sacked.

The Alex Ferguson era (1986-1999)

Main article: Manchester United 1986-1999

Alex Ferguson replaced Atkinson and guided the club to an 11th place finish. The following season (1987-88), United finished second, with Brian McClair becoming the first United player since George Best to score twenty league goals in a season.

However, United struggled badly throughout 1989, with many of Ferguson's signings not reaching the expectations of the fans. There was speculation that Ferguson would be sacked at the beginning of 1990 but a win in the third round of the FA Cup over Nottingham Forest kept the season alive and United went on to win the competition.

United won the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1990-91, beating that season's Spanish champions Barcelona in the final, but the following season was a disappointment for United as a late season slump saw them miss out on the league to rivals Leeds United. Meanwhile in 1991 the club had floated on the London Stock Exchange with a valuation of £18 million, thus bringing its finances into the public eye as never before.

The arrival of Eric Cantona in November 1992 provided the crucial spark for United, and they finished the 1992-93 season as Champions for the first time since 1967. They won the double (the league and the FA Cup) for the first time the following season, but legendary manager and club president Matt Busby died that year, on 20 January, 1994.

In 1994-95, Cantona received an eight month suspension for jumping into the crowd and assulting a Crystal Palace supporter. Drawing their last league match and losing to Everton in the FA Cup final left United as runners-up in both the league and FA Cup. Ferguson then outraged the supporters by selling key players and replacing them with players from the club's youth team, but the new players, several of whom quickly became regular internationals, did surprisingly well and United won the double again in 1995-96.

They won the league in 1997, and Eric Cantona, announced his retirement from football at the age of 30, several years earlier than most players. They started the following season (1997-98) well but their results were affected by a series of injuries and they finished the season in second place, behind the double winning champions Arsenal.

1998-99 was the most successful season in the club's history as United became the first English team to win The Treble - the league, the FA Cup and the Champions League in the same season. (See The Treble for an explanation of different types of "Treble" or Manchester United Treble for a more in-depth look at the 1998-1999 season.) The final of the Champions League was especially exciting as United were trailing 1-0 with one minute to go, but two goals in stoppage time, gave them a win over Bayern Munich. The club's first choice central-midfielders, Roy Keane and Paul Scholes, missed the match through suspension. Ferguson was knighted for his contributions to British football as a result.

After the treble (1999-present)

Main article: Manchester United 1999-present

United won the league by record margins in 2000 and 2001 but the press saw these seasons as failures as they failed to regain the European Cup. Ferguson adopted more defensive tactics to make United harder to beat in Europe but it was not a success and United finished the season in third place in 2002. They regained the league the following season (2002-03) and started the following season well, but their form dropped significantly when Rio Ferdinand received an eight month suspension for missing a drugs test. They did win the 2004 F.A. Cup, however, knocking out Arsenal (that season's eventual champions) on their way to the final.

The 2004-05 season was characterised by a failure to score goals, and United finished the season trophyless and in third place in the league. This time, even the "consolation prize" of the F.A. Cup eluded them — although they completely outplayed Arsenal in the final they were beaten on penalties. Off the pitch, the main story was the possibility of the club being taken over and at the end of the season, Tampa businessman Malcolm Glazer acquired a controlling interest in the club. United made a poor start to the 2005-06 season, with team captain Roy Keane leaving the club after publicly criticising several of his teammates, and the club failed to qualify for the knock-out phase of the UEFA Champion's League for the first time in over a decade.

Manchester United are poised to sign Spartak Moscow defender Nemanja Vidic on the opening of the January 2006 transfer window for a reported fee of 7 million pounds.

The Malcolm Glazer takeover

Main article: Malcolm Glazer takeover of Manchester United

On May 12, 2005, the United States businessman Malcolm Glazer acquired a controlling interest in the club in a takeover valuing it at approximately £800 million ($1.47 billion). On May 16, he increased his share to the 75% necessary to delist the club from the Stock Exchange, taking it private again, and announced his intention to do so within 20 days. On 7 June he appointed his sons Joel, Avram, and Bryan to the board with Joel becoming Exectuive Co Chairman, Avram Non Exective Co Chairman and Bryan a Non Executive Director, at the same time Sir Roy Gardner resigned the chairmanship, and two other non-executive directors resigned.

Some United fans have expressed concern that in the fallout from the Glazer takeover, which left the club £265 million in debt, Manchester United will no longer have the money to compete in the transfer market with the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Chelsea. The Glazers promised that Sir Alex Ferguson would still be able to purchase "big-name" players; however, Ferguson's signings have been uncharacteristically restrained since the takeover.


Before the Second World War, few English football supporters travelled to away games because of the time and cost. As United and City played home matches on alternate Saturdays, many Mancunians would watch United one week and City the next. After the war, a stronger rivalry developed and it became more common for a supporter to choose one team to follow exclusively.

When United won the league in 1956, they had the highest average home attendance in the league, a record that had been held by Newcastle for the previous few years. Following the Munich air disaster in 1958, more people from outside Manchester began to support United and, as travel became quicker and cheaper, many started to go to matches. This swelled United’s support and is one reason why United have had the highest league attendances in English football for almost every season since then, even as a second division side in 1974-75.

Although it is often claimed that few Mancunians support United (similar claims are made about Juventus and Bayern Munich), the Manchester Evening News has conducted several surveys asking Mancunians which team they support and United have topped each poll, on one occasion getting 66% of the vote. A 2002 report, Do You Come From Manchester? indicated that United had a higher number of season ticket holders in the Manchester postcode area than Manchester City, although a higher proportion of City's season ticket holders lived in that area as they sold fewer season tickets overall. The club estimates they have 75 million fans around the world, with 40 million fans in Asia alone.

In the late 1990s and early part of the 2000s, an increasing source of concern for many United supporters was the possibility of the club being taken over. The supporters’ group IMUSA (Independent Manchester United Supporters' Association) were extremely active in opposing a proposed takeover by Rupert Murdoch in 1999. Another pressure group, Shareholders United Against Murdoch (now Shareholders United) was formed at around this time to encourage supporters to buy shares in the club, partly to enable supporters to have a greater say in the issues that concern them, such as ticket prices and allocation, and partly to reduce the risk of an unwanted party buying enough shares to take over the club. However, this scheme failed to prevent Malcolm Glazer from becoming the majority shareholder in the club. Many supporters were outraged, and some formed a new club called F.C. United of Manchester. The new club plays in the North West Counties League Second Division, and attracts an average attendance of over 2500.

Although the full effects of Glazer's takeover on the club's support are not yet known, the club has claimed a record number of season ticket sales, however, given the many empty seats in the ground and lack of freedom of information from the club, this is as yet unverified.

United in the Premiership

United are statistically the most successful team in the history of the Premiership. They have finished in the top three of the league each and every season since its creation, and during the first nine seasons never finished outside the top two.

Before the creation of the Premiership, United had won a fair share of cup competitions but had not been league champions since 1967. But the formation of the new super league has seen United develop a playing side to match its support, which makes it one of the most popular and famous football clubs in the whole world.

Alex Ferguson, who became Sir Alex Ferguson on his knighthood in 1999, is the only manager to have stuck with the same club throughout the history of the Premiership. He has guided them to eight Premiership titles, four F.A Cups and one European Cup since 1992. As an added bonus, they have won the Premiership/F.A Cup double three times and their third double became the treble as they lifted the European Cup.

In the few seasons that United have failed to win a major trophy, it has been considered a crisis by the club's fans who have become more and more hungry for success despite the almost non-stop diet of trophies which they have been used for so many years.

They are currently eleven points behind Chelsea in the race for the Premiership title, and will have to maintain good league form and hope that Chelsea drop a few points to claim the title. They crashed out of the 2005-06 Champions League in the group stages, and their best chance of success is currently the League Cup in which they will face Blackburn Rovers in the Semi-Finals.

Current squad

As of 26 December, 2005:

No. Player Position Year Signed Previous Club
1 Template:Flagicon Tim Howard GK 2003 MetroStars
19 Template:Flagicon Edwin van der Sar GK 2005 Fulham
30 Template:Flagicon Luke Steele GK 2002 Peterborough United / Academy
2 Template:Flagicon Gary Neville RB 1991 Academy
4 Template:Flagicon Gabriel Heinze LB/CB 2004 Paris Saint-Germain
5 Template:Flagicon Rio Ferdinand CB 2002 Leeds United
6 Template:Flagicon Wes Brown CB/RB 1996 Academy
22 Template:Flagicon John O'Shea D/M 1998 Waterford United
25 Template:Flagicon Quinton Fortune LB/LM 1999 Atlético Madrid
26 Template:Flagicon Phil Bardsley RB 2001 Waterford United/Academy
27 Template:Flagicon Mikaël Silvestre CB/LB 1999 Internazionale
28 Template:Flagicon Gerard Piqué LB 2004 Barcelona / Academy
36 Template:Flagicon Mark Howard CB Academy
44 Template:Flagicon Adam Eckersley LB 2002 Academy
7 Template:Flagicon Cristiano Ronaldo RW/LW 2003 Sporting Lisbon
11 Template:Flagicon Ryan Giggs LW 1990 Academy
13 Template:Flagicon Park Ji-Sung LM/RM/AM 2005 PSV Eindhoven
14 Template:Flagicon Alan Smith CM 2004 Leeds United
18 Template:Flagicon Paul Scholes CM/AM 1991 Academy
23 Template:Flagicon Kieran Richardson LW/LB 2001 West Ham United / Academy
24 Template:Flagicon Darren Fletcher CM/RM 2000 Academy
41 Template:Flagicon Floribert N'Galula DM Anderlecht / Academy
46 Template:Flagicon Lee Martin LM 2004 Wimbledon / Academy
49 Template:Flagicon Richie Jones CM Academy
50 Template:Flagicon Darron Gibson CM Academy
8 Template:Flagicon Wayne Rooney CF 2004 Everton
9 Template:Flagicon Louis Saha CF 2004 Fulham
10 Template:Flagicon Ruud van Nistelrooy CF 2001 PSV Eindhoven
20 Template:Flagicon Ole Gunnar Solskjær CF/RW 1996 Molde FK
37 Template:Flagicon Kenny Cooper CF Academy
40 Template:Flagicon Sylvan Ebanks-Blake CF 2004 Academy
42 Template:Flagicon Giuseppe Rossi CF 2004 Parma / Academy
51 Template:Flagicon Fraizer Campbell CF Academy
- Template:Flagicon Sir Alex Ferguson - 1986 Aberdeen

Note: For players who came from the academy of the club, Year Joined Club column represents first appearance for senior team.

Players out on loan

Premier League

League Championship

League One

Norwegian Premier League

Belgian Second Division

Brazilian Série A

Reserve team players

Academy team players

Main article: Manchester United F.C. Academy

Noted players






See Also: List of Manchester United players and Category:Manchester United F.C. players

Managerial history



  • Most Appearances : Bobby Charlton 754
  • Most Goals scored : 247 Bobby Charlton
  • Most League Goals: 199 Bobby Charlton, 1956-73
  • Most League Goals in a Season: 32 Dennis Viollet, Division 1, 1959-60
  • Most Goals scored in a Match: 6 George Best v Northampton Town, 1970
  • Most Capped Player: Bobby Charlton, 106 England
  • Most League Appearances: 606 Bobby Charlton, 1956-73
  • Record League Attendance: Old Trafford 70,504 v Aston Villa, Division 1, 27 December 1920
  • Record 'home' League Attendance: Maine Road 83,250 v Arsenal, Division 1, 7 January 1948
  • Record Attendance Old Trafford: 76,962, Wolves v Grimsby Town, FA Cup, semi-final, 25 March 1939
  • Longest unbeaten Run : (All competitions) 45, 24-12-1998 to 10-3-99
  • Most League Goals in a season; 103 1956/57, 1958/59
  • Most points in a season: 92 1993/94

Performance in the top division

Manchester United have spent 79 seasons in the national top flight (only Everton, Aston Villa, Liverpool, and Arsenal have more seasons at top level), finishing in these positions:

1st 15 12th 2
2nd 12 13th 4
3rd 6 14th 2
4th 7 15th 2
5th 2 16th 2
6th 2 17th 1
7th 2 18th 3
8th 6 19th 1
9th 3 20th 0
10th 1 21st 2
11th 3 22nd 2

United are one of three clubs (the others being Liverpool and Arsenal) that have finished first more often than in any other one table spot in the top division.

See also

Supporters' organisations


External links

Official sites

Independent media sites

General fansites

Specialist sites

Non English-language

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