May 25, 2024

Manchester United

Manchester United – Introduction

Manchester United is one of the most famous football clubs in the World. Based in the City of Manchester in the North-west of England the football club has a rich, colourful and, at times, a tragic history. Manchester United can trace it’s roots all the way back to 1878 when the club was formerly called Newton Heath but it was in the last decade of the twentieth century that the club firmly established itself as a truly global sporting phenomenon.

Manchester United History

Manchester United began life in 1878 in the guise of Newton Heath L & Y R Football Club. It was the works team of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway depot and played home games on a small dilapidated pitch on the North Road in Manchester.

Newton Heath played in jerseys that were half green and half gold – colours that were adopted by groups supporting the campaign for the removal of the American Glazer family as owners of Manchester United early in the 21st century. In 1893 the club switched it’s home venue to Bank Street in Clayton.

In the first few years of the club’s existence the Heathens, the nickname for Newton Heath, tasted success reaching the final of the Manchester and District Cup on five separate occasions in the 1880’s. By 1892 the club had joined The Football League’s Second Division and had become independent from the rail depot and was now known as Newton Heath FC. In 1885 the club turned professional.

Having had a brief two year stint in the First Division, by 1902 the Newton Heath was languishing in the shadow of near neighbours Manchester City and was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Action was needed to save the club from extinction. Through a bizarre twist of fate, that involved a St Bernard dog owned by Heathens captain, Henry Stafford, going missing and somehow finding it’s way into the hands of a successful Manchester business man John Henry Davies, Stafford had a fateful meeting with Davies.

Manchester United – Born on 28 April 1902

This chance meeting led to John Henry Davies and a group of business men investing £2,000 into the club. Davies became club president and decided to change the name of the club to broaden it’s appeal. Before Manchester United was decided upon other names including Manchester Celtic were considered. An immigrant from Italy called Louis Rocca came up with the ultimate name and on the 28th of April 1902 Manchester United football club came into existence. At this time the club also decided to adopt the red and white strip that we recognise today.

Manchester United – The Early Years

In it’s first season playing as Manchester United the club finished in fifth place in the Second Division in the 1902/03 season. After this former Burnley manager, Earnest Magnall, was appointed as team manager and he led United to third place in the following season. Magnall signed a number of players to boost the quality of player at the club and in the 1905/06 season Manchester United won promotion to the First Division.

Manchester United Win the League for the First Time

In October 1906 Magnall signed the legendary Billy Meredith form Manchester City. This proved to be an inspired signing. Despite finishing in a disappointing eight place in the league Meredith had begun to find some good form in the latter half of the season with his new playing colleagues. He started the 1907/08 season as he had finished the last – by scoring in a winning performance. Manchester United won it’s first league title that season a full nine points clear of second placed Aston Villa. United followed this up by winning the FA Cup for the first time in 1909 beating Bristol City 1-0 in the final at Crystal Palace. Inside forward Sandy Turnbull scored the winning goal after a shot by Harold Halse rebounded off the crossbar.

Manchester United Move to Old Trafford

In 1908 John Henry Davies, through the Manchester Brewery Company, bought the land on which Old Trafford would be built. The purchase price was £60,000. The brewery leased the land to the club and work commenced on building the stadium under architect Archibald Leith. By the year 1910 Manchester United had moved to Old Trafford and had said goodbye to Bank Street. This was just as well as two days before the first match at Old Trafford a wooden stand at the old ground had blown down in high winds. In front of a capacity 80,000 fans on 19 February 1910 Manchester United played it’s first match at Old Trafford against North-west rivals Liverpool FC. It was a fitting and exciting match to grace the new stadium but unfortunately for United, Liverpool won the tie 3 – 4. Manchester United won the First Division title for the second time in the 1910/1911 season, the first full season at Old Trafford.

Manchester United Go Over 40 Years Without Winning the League Again

Disappointingly Manchester United finished in thirteenth position in the league in the next season having lost more matches than won. Manager Ernest Bagnall came under a lot of criticism. Having delivered two league titles for United such criticism didn’t sit easy with him and he did the unthinkable – he left Old Trafford to go to manage close rivals Manchester City. To this day Ernest Bagnall is the only man to have managed Manchester United and Manchester City.

United appointed former club chairman John Bentley in place of Magnall. Bentley in turn was replaced by Jack Robson whose managerial term was interrupted by the First World War. Robson died of pneumonia in January 1922 and United were relegated to the Second Division.

John Chapman took up the reins at Old Trafford and it took him three seasons to win promotion to the top flight. Chapman helped United to solidify it’s position in the First Division but in October 1926 the English FA suspended John Chapman for improper conduct although the precise reason was never made public.

Manchester United Faces Bankruptcy

Chapman was temporarily replaced by the only player/manager that Manchester United ever had – Clarence ‘Lal’ Hilditch. Chapman’s permanent replacement was Herbert Bamlett. Following relegation to the Second Division in the 1930/31 season – United conceded 115 goals that season – Bamlett was replaced by Walter Crickmer. For the first match the next season a mere 3,500 fans turned up to support the team and things did not improve as the season wore on. Funds were drying up, the players were not getting paid, and Manchester United faced bankruptcy during the 1931/32 season.

Cheshire businessman James Gibson, who made a fortune manufacturing army uniforms, saved the club by investing £30,000 thereby becoming the chairman of Manchester United. Crickmer was replaced by Scotsman Scott Duncan who had money to spend on players. However United were almost relegated to the Third Division in the 1933/34 season only escaping by beating Milwall 2-1 on the last day of the season. Following more promotion/relegation yo-yoing between the First and Second Divisions Duncan was replaced temporarily by Walter Crickmer in November 1937. Crickmer’s main claim to fame on the football field is that he signed the great Irish footballer Johnny Carey.

Old Trafford Bombed During World War II

World War II interrupted English domestic soccer in 1939 and Division One football did not resume until the 1946/47 season. Despite the lack of football, Old Trafford did see some action during the war years when the stadium was badly damaged in a German air raid on 11th March 1941. It would take until 1949 before the stadium was restored and there was a sense of rebirth of Manchester United with the arrival of Scotsman Matt Busby as club manager. The arrival of the great Busby presaged the delivery of the First Division league title for the first time in more than forty years and some of the most momentous occasions in the history of Manchester United Football Club.

Manchester United – The Matt Busby Era

Matt Busby had a relatively successful football career playing for United’s local rivals Manchester City and Liverpool. Chairman James Gibson appointed Matt Busby as manager of Manchester United in 1945 on a five year contract. One of his first decisions was to appoint Johnny Carey as team captain. A position he would hold until Carey retired in 1953. Busby also brought in Welshman Jimmy Murphy as his assistant. In Busby’s first season Manchester United finished second to Liverpool in Division One and went on to beat Blackpool in the FA Cup final in the next season. This was followed by two second place and one fourth place finishes in the First Division.

This was a level of consistency never before enjoyed by Manchester United and delivery of a Division One title seemed inevitable. In the 1951/52 season Manchester United won the First Division title for the first time in the Busby era – forty-one years since the last time the club had won the title. United went on to win the title again in 1955/56 and 1956/57. Allied to these high profile successes by the senior team Matt Busby was building for the future at underage levels. Manchester United won the FA Youth Cup on five successive years from 1953. Some notable players that came through the underage set up included Jackie Blanchflower, Duncan Edwards, Liam Whelan and Bobby Charlton. The Busby Babes era had arrived.

Matt Busby’s European Ambitions

Despite some scepticism within the English League and amongst other clubs Matt Busby set his sites on European domination. UEFA had held the inaugural European Champions Cup competition in the 1955/56 season which had been won by Real Madrid. Chelsea had been denied the opportunity to enter the competition by the Football League secretary Alan Hardaker. Busby recognised the promise of such a competition and insisted that United would enter the 1956/57 competition.

England’s first foray into the European Cup ended up in a 5 -3 loss by Manchester United to eventual winners, and existing holders, Real Madrid. Nevertheless United and Busby had made their mark on Europe by scoring 21 goals in eight matches. Busby’s appetite had been really whetted for European football and having retained the First Division title he relished the prospect of having another go at the competition in that fateful 1957/58 season.

Munich Air Disaster for Busby Babes

In 1957 the Busby Babes began their European Cup campaign in a preliminary round two-legged match against Shamrock Rovers of Ireland. On his return to his native Dublin Liam Whelan score two goals in a 0-6 victory for United. Busby guided his young team through the next rounds of the competition right through to the quarter finals against Red Star Belgrade in the former Yugoslavia. United won the first leg 2-1 at Old Trafford and successfully made it through to the semi-finals of the European Cup by virtue of a 3-3 draw in Belgrade. Only AC Milan stood in the way of a first European Cup final meeting with Real Madrid.

On the 6th February 1958 BEA flight 609 took off from Belgrade with Matt Busby and his young Manchester United team on board. The average age of the Busby Babes on board was just 24. The aircraft had to stop off in Munich’s Riem airport to refuel for the final leg to Manchester. In wintery conditions including falling snow and slush on the airport runway the pilot had made two failed attempts to get airborne. On the third attempt the aircraft overshot the runway, hit a house, then struck another building at which point the plane burst into flames.


The Munich air crash claimed the lives of 23 people including two passengers, eight journalists, three United staff – former manager Walter Crickmer, chief coach Bert Whalley, and trainer Tom Curry.

The Manchester United players that lost their lives as a consequence of the Munich air disaster were, Geoff Bent, Roger Byrne, Eddie Coleman, Duncan Edwards, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Tommy Taylor, and Ireland’s Billy Whelan.

The Munich air crash was a real tragedy for those killed and injured, and for their families and friends. It was also a tragedy for Manchester United, a club that looked set fair to dominate English and European football for years to come. Matt Busby who was in the process of establishing a football empire now lay seriously injured in a hospital bed and the heart of his young team had been ripped from the club. Busby’s assistant Jimmy Murphy took charge of United until the manager’s return. United’s first match after the Munich air disaster was a fifth round FA Cup match against Sheffield Wednesday less than two weeks after the crash. Surprisingly United won that match 3-0 and went on to reach the final only to lose 2-0 to Bolton Wanderers. Unsurprisingly United succumbed 5-2 on aggregate to AC Milan in the semi-final of the European Cup although United did win the first leg 2-1 at Old Trafford. United finished the First division campaign in ninth position having won just two of the remaining 14 matches after the crash.

Manchester United Rebuilds – The Next Busby Era

Despite finishing in second place behind Wolverhampton Wanderers in the next season, and then second to Burnley in 1960/61, Busby knew that Manchester United needed very significant rebuilding. No club, not even United, could withstand the kind of losses experienced in Munich without undergoing a period of rehabilitation. Busby began the rebuilding from within in an attempt to generate a new crop of young talent. He supplemented this by buying in established talents also, including Cork’s Noel Cantwell from West Ham David Herd from Arsenal. Belfast’s George Best was emerging through the ranks and Matt Busby also signed Scotsman Denis Law from Italy’s Torino in 1962 for a record signing-on fee of £115,000. Success wasn’t long coming as Manchester United won the FA Cup final in 1963 beating Leicester City 3-1 at Wembley. United had a very poor league campaign finishing in 19th position and losing 20 out of 42 matches.

The next season the Red Devils made it to the semi-finals of the Inter-City Fairs Cup losing out 2-1 to Hungary’s Ferencvárosi in a play-off match. More importantly United reclaimed the First Division title season on goal difference from Leeds United. And so Manchester United and Matt Busby renewed their European Cup challenge in 1965. United lost out to Partizan 2-0 in a poignant return to Belgrade in the first leg of the European Cup semi-final. Despite a 1-0 win at Old Trafford once again United exited a European competition at the semi-final stage. Manchester United qualified for the European Cup competition for the 1967/68 season by virtue of winning the league ahead of second-placed Nottingham Forest. The 1968 European Cup Final was scheduled to be played at Wembley Stadium in London.

Manchester United Win the European Cup

While Busby was making progress on the pitch the club had been developing in other ways as new owner Louis Edwards redeveloped the north and east stands in preparation for the 1966 World Cup. The redevelopment included the first private boxes at any English football ground. Despite domestic league and cup success so quickly after the tragedy that was Munich, and the enhanced facilities, Matt Busby still craved success at European level. The 1967/68 European Cup began with a routine, if uninspired, 4-0 victory over Hibernians of Malta. In the second round United beat Sarajevo 2-1 on aggregate. In the quarter-finals the Reds met Polish side Górnik Zabrze and despite losing the second leg in Chorzów 1-0 United had done enough in the first leg at Old Trafford to make it to the next round. It was a somewhat fortunate 2-0 victory that came courtesy of an own goal and a last minute goal from Brian Kidd.

In the semi-final Manchester United gained sweet revenge over Real Madrid when they beat the Spanish side 4-3 on aggregate. Carrying a slender 1-0 lead from the first leg at Old Trafford United looked to be heading out of the competition at half time as they trailed 3-1 on the night and 3-2 on aggregate. In front of a crowd of 120,000 at the Bernabeu United achieved the first part of Matt Busby’s dream by scoring two goals without reply and so made it to the European Cup final for the first time in the club’s history. Just a decade after the club had been sundered by those tragic events in Munich.

1968 European Cup Final at Wembley Stadium

On the 28th May 1968 at Wembley Stadium the second great team created by Matt Busby lined up to take on Portuguese champions Benfica. Portugal’s standard bearers had made it to the final largely courtesy of six goals from the great Eusebio and posed a significant obstacle to the fulfilment of Busby’s European dream. Following a 0-0 stalemate in the first half United legend Bobby Charlton grabbed the lead for the Red Devils after 53 minutes through a rare headed goal from the United captain. Benfica remained undeterred and just over twenty minutes later had achieved parity through a Jaime Graca goal. The 90 minutes ended with the teams all square at 1-1. Extra time in the European Cup final loomed and so it boiled down to 30 minutes of football to secure Manchester United’s Holy Grail.

Two minutes into extra time and as the Benfica central defender struggled to control a punt from United goalkeeper, Alex Stepney, the mercurial George Best pounced. Best broke clear and rounded Jorge Henrique in Benfica’s goal and coolly slotted home. Two further quick goals from Brian Kidd and Charlton ensured that there was no way back for Benfica. Matt Busby and Manchester United were complete. The journey from a small dilapidated pitch on the North Road in Manchester, right across Europe, and finally to Wembley Stadium in London Manchester had climbed and conquered the peaks of English and European football. It had taken 90 years but at last Manchester United had reached the pinnacle of European football. A truly fitting tribute to those that had died and been injured in Munich just ten years earlier.

Somewhat predictably the next season was something of an anticlimax for the club and after 24 years at the helm Matt Busby resigned as manager of Manchester United in 1969. He remained on as a director of the club.

The Post-Busby Era at Manchester United

Frank O’Farrell Appointed Manchester United Manager

The ‘Old Man’ as Bobby Charlton affectionately calls him had left an amazing legacy but also a long shadow behind him – especially for any manager taking up the reins at Manchester United. Former Red Wilf McGuinness assumed control but was sacked in December 1970 following some indifferent performances. Busby returned briefly but resumed his role as director upon the appointment in 1971 of the only Irishman to ever manage Manchester United – Frank O’Farrell.

Busby hand-picked the Corkman based upon his performances as manager of Leicester City. O’Farrell was handed a five year contract but only lasted in the job for eighteen months. His task was made particularly difficult because he inherited an ageing team that was in decline and he found it difficult to effectively manage an increasingly wayward George Best. Despite a very encouraging start to his managerial career with United O’Farrell could not escape the Busby influence with some of the older players. Within 15 months of Busby describing Frank O’Farrell as his “best ever signing” the former manager drew a close to O’Farrell’s Manchester United career. O’Farrell was quoted as saying “…Busby obviously felt that he could have done a better job; if that was the case then he should have stayed on as manager himself instead of appointing me.”

Tommy Docherty Appointed Manchester United Manager

Following Frank O’Farrell’s dismissal in December 1972 Scotsman Tommy Docherty was appointed manager of Manchester United. Despite avoiding relegation in the 1972/73 season, without the now-departed Denis Law and Bobby Charlton Docherty could not repeat the feat in the next season. Following one season in the Second Division came roaring back into the First Division with a swashbuckling style of play that saw United finish third in the league. Despite beating arch-rivals Liverpool in the 1977 FA Cup final Tommy Docherty was fired from the position of Manchester United manager due to an extramarital affair with United physio Laurie Brown’s, wife Mary.

Dave Sexton Appointed Manchester United Manager

QPR’s Dave Sexton was appointed manager of Manchester United for the 1977/78 season. Results did not improve and First Division tenth and ninth place finishes were the best that Sexton could manage in his first two seasons. A losing FA Cup final appearance against Arsenal in 1979 and a runners-up position to Liverpool in the 1979/80 season could do nothing to mask the fact that United were not likely to make the breakthrough required by the fans. This was borne out by an eight place finish in the 1981/82 season and Dave Sexton was sacked from his position as Manchester United manager on 30th April 1981 after four seasons.

Off the field chairman Louis Edwards died of a heart attack in 1980 to be replaced by his son Martin Edwards.

Ron Atkinson Appointed Manchester United Manager

Following on from Sexton Manchester United appointed the brash and colourful Ron Atkinson as manager of the club. ‘Big Ron’ made major waves in the transfer market by signing Bryan Robson for a British transfer record of £1.5m. He also signed Frank Stapleton to add to existing pool of Irish players at Old Trafford that also included Norman Whiteside, Kevin Moran, and Paul McGrath. Despite some very impressive form in the cup competitions, including victories in the FA Cup in 1983 and 1985 (when Kevin Moran became the first player ever sent off in an FA Cup final), the Red Devils simply could not seem to break the Merseyside hold on the League title. Despite going 15 league matches unbeaten, including 13 wins, in the 1985/86 season Ron Atkinson was dismissed as Manchester United manager.

Alex Ferguson Appointed Manager of Manchester United

Following his hugely impressive success in Scotland with Aberdeen in breaking the Rangers / Celtic domination and by beating Real Madrid in the European Cup Winners Cup final, Alex Ferguson was an obvious choice to manage United. Having tried five different managers following the hugely successful Busby era Manchester United had failed to win the league title since 1967. The appointment of another Scotsman in 1986 was widely welcomed. Especially as the league had come to be dominated by bitter North-west rivals Liverpool.

In his first season Ferguson did not make any sweeping changes or any major signings but rather concentrated on ensuring United avoided relegation with existing resources. Following that Ferguson imposed his stamp on the club, getting rid of some players and signing others, and applying his own tactics. Results improved and Manchester United finished in second place in the league in the 1987/88 season. Over the next couple of seasons Ferguson failed to provide the League title that the United fans craved. It is widely accepted that it was Ferguson’s success in the FA Cup in 1990 that save him from the sack. Because of his significant expenditure in the transfer market and his decision to let the popular Irishmen Norman Whiteside and Paul McGrath leave the club Ferguson was under intense pressure from the fans and the media. Speculation was rife that if United had lost to Nottingham Forest in the third round of the FA Cup on 7 January 1990 the Alex Ferguson would have been sacked by the Manchester United board. In a less than convincing United performance Mark Robins scored the goal that is widely accepted to have saved Alex Ferguson’s job as Manchester United manager.

Alex Ferguson Wins First Trophy with Manchester United

United went on to win the FA Cup in 1990 beating Crystal Palace 1-0 in a replay. Lee Martin scored the winning goal thus buying Ferguson more time. The FA Cup victory meant that United were back in European competition in the Cup Winners Cup in the 1990/1991 season. Despite yet another lacklustre league performance United’s thrilling victory over Barcelona in that European competition meant that Ferguson could claim that his Manchester United team was making progress. The following season United finished second in the League behind Howard Wilkinson’s Leeds United. Manchester United also won the League Cup for the first time ever that season. Ferguson had now won silverware in that last three seasons and he was making progress in the League. The progress curve was arcing upwards and his youth policy was also beginning to bear fruit as a teenager called Ryan Giggs burst on to the scene at Old Trafford.

Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United Wins the League for the First Time

Ferguson’s and United’s big breakthrough occurred in the 1992/1993 season – the inaugural season of the newly formed Premier League. United were competing strongly in the League but Ferguson caught a real break when, unbelievably, Leeds United agreed to sell Eric Cantona to the Reds in December 1992. This injection of Gaulic flair was the last piece of the jigsaw that Ferguson required to turn United from nearly-men into League winners. After 26 years another Scotsman, Alex Ferguson, delivered the League title for United – the first since the Matt Busby era.

Manchester United Dominate the Premier League in the Nineties

Once the League had been won once the floodgates opened for Ferguson and his team. With his crop of home-grown talent supplemented by some fantastic signings Ferguson’s Manchester United went on to dominate English domestic football in the 1990’s. During that decade United won the League five times, the FA Cup four times, and the League Cup once. Following on from his early domestic success Ferguson set his sights on emulating Matt Busby by delivering Champions League success. With this in mind he signed young Irishman Roy Keane from Nottingham Forest as a natural successor to Bryan Robson. Ferguson paid a then British record fee of £3.75m for Keane.

Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United Win the Champions League

Manchester United’s first foray into the top flight European competition since the late 1960’s ended in disappointment as the Red Devils crashed out in the second round losing on the away goals rule to Turkey’s Galatasary. It wasn’t until the 1996/97 Champions League that United made any significant progress in the competition. Ferguson’s charges lost 2-0 in the semi-finals to eventual winners Borussia Dortmund. In 1999 Alex Ferguson finally equalled Matt Busby’s European achievement. It was a season that United also won the Premier League and the FA Cup. United had arrived in Barcelona for the final courtesy of an unbelievable and selfless performance in the semi-final by Roy Keane against Juventus.

In one of the most amazing comebacks in European football history United scored two late, late goals by Teddy Sherringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, to snatch a 2-1 victory from the jaws of defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich. Famously Ferguson quipped immediately after the match “Football – bloody hell!” to sum up the momentous events of the last minutes of the final. At last Ferguson had matched the achievements of his legendary predecessor Matt Busby.

Alex Ferguson and Manchester United in the 21st Century

Ferguson and Manchester United began the new millennium as they had ended the last – by winning the 1999/2000 and 2000/ 2001 Premier League titles. Despite the emergence of Chelsea, funded by billionaire Roman Abramovich, as a force in the League Manchester United won a further four League titles, the FA Cup in 2004, the League Cup in 2006 and 2009, and the Champions League again in 2008. The latter final was held in Moscow and Manchester United defeated arch-rivals Chelsea 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out following a 1-1 draw.

In the latter stages of Ferguson’s career as manager of United Manchester City emerged as title contenders, as billionaire Sheikh Mansour bankrolled “the noisy neighbours”. City’s challenge peaked, during the Ferguson era, as the blue half of Manchester claimed the 2011/12 Premier League title on goal difference courtesy of a last minute goal by City striker Sergio Kun Aguerro in the last match of the season against QPR.

This loss on goal difference really hurt Ferguson and he vowed that it wouldn’t happen again. To ensure this he signed Dutch striker Robin van Persie from rivals Arsenal in the Summer of 2012. On cue van Persie delivered 25 goals as United reclaimed the Premier League title by a wide points margin from Manchester City. Yet another example of Ferguson’s determination and insatiable appetite for success.

In the program notes for United’s second last home match of the 2012/13 season Ferguson declared his intention to remain on as manager for the foreseeable future. Three days later Alex Ferguson announced his retirement as manager of Manchester United on Wednesday 8th May 2013. Despite the fact that Ferguson was 71 and had spent almost 27 years managing United this still came as a great surprise and began an intense, but brief, period of speculation about who would succeed Alex Ferguson.

During his time as manager of Manchester United Alex Ferguson won 13 Premier League titles, two Champions Leagues, five FA Cups, four League Cups, one European Cup Winners Cup, one UEFA Super Cup, one Intercontinental cup, one Club World Cup, as well as several Charity/Community Shields.

David Moyes Appointed Manager of Manchester United

Late in the afternoon of Thursday 9th May 2013 Everton manager David Moyes was announced as the successor to Sir Alex Ferguson as the manager of Manchester United. The 50 year old Scot, and former Celtic FC player, was given a six year contract beginning on the 1st July 2013. As had been speculated it emerged that Ferguson had been instrumental in the selection of Moyes as his successor.

David Moyes Wins his First Trophy as Manchester United Manager

Moyes won his first trophy as the United manager on Sunday 11th August 2013 when the Reds beat Championship team Wigan athletic in the Community Shield at Wembley. Two goals by Dutch striker Robin van Persie were enough to secure the first trophy for Moyes.

Moyes Loses His Job as Manager of Manchester United

Ferguson’s selection proved to be an ill-advised choice as United performed very poorly under the new manager. On the 22nd of April 2014 the Board terminated his contract as United languished in 7th position with no chance of qualifying for Champions League football in the following season. This was despite spending almost £65m on two high profile transfers of Marouane Fellaini from Everton and Juan Mata from Chelsea. The final nail in Moyes’ coffin was a 2-0 loss against his former club Everton. This meant that three of United’s North-West rivals, Manchester City, Liverpool, and Everton had beaten United home and away in the one season. At the time that Moyes lost his job United had lost an unprecedented 11 Premier League matches in the one season. With no obvious sign of any improvement in results or performance the club’s owners felt compelled to act.

Ryan Giggs Appointed as Interim Manager of Manchester United

In a populist move 40 year old Ryan Giggs was appointed as interim manager of United for the last four matches of the season. His short reign began with a 4-0 win over Norwich City at Old Trafford.

Louis Van Gaal Appointed Manager of Manchester United

On the 19th May 2013 Manchester United announce that Dutch national team manager, Louis Van Gaal, would take up role of manager of the club following Holland’s participation in the 2014 World Cup finals. Van Gaal was the first manager of United from outside of Britain and Ireland. Ryan Giggs, English football’s most decorated player and the United player with most appearances in the club’s history, was appointed assistant manager to Van Gaal.

List of Honours Won by Manchester United

It is interesting that that only five Manchester United managers have ever won major honours with the club and only three Manchester United managers have ever won the English League title. This is largely due to the fact that two managers, Matt Busby and Alex Ferguson, have managed the United for over 50 years in total.

Competition Years Won – Manager
League Titles (a) 1907/08; 1910/11 – Ernest Magnall
1951/52; 1955/56; 1956/57; 1964/65; 1966/67 – Matt Busby
1992/93; 1993/94; 1995/96; 1996/97; 1998/99; 1999/00; 2000/01; 2002/03; 2006/07; 2007/08; 2008/09; 2010/11; 2012/13 – Alex Ferguson
FA Cup 1908/09- Ernest Magnall
1947/48; 1962/63 – Matt Busby
1976/77 – Tommy Docherty
1982/83; 1984/85 – Ron Atkinson
1989/90; 1993/94/ 1995/96; 1998/99; 2003/04 – Alex Ferguson
League Cup 1991/92; 2005/06; 2008/09; 2009/10 – Alex Ferguson
European Cup (b) 1967/68 – Matt Busby
1998/99; 2007/08 – Alex Ferguson
Cup Winners Cup 1990/91 – Alex Ferguson
UEFA Super Cup 1991 – Alex Ferguson
Intercontinental Cup 1999 – Alex Ferguson
Club World Cup 2008 – Alex Ferguson
Second Division 1935/36; 1974/75
Charity / Community
1908; 1911; 1952; 1956; 1957; 1965*; 1967*; 1977*; 1983; 1990*; 1993; 1994; 1996; 1997; 2003; 2007; 2008; 2010; 2011 (*= shared); 2013.

(a) First Division / Premier League (b) European Cup / Champions League

List of Manchester United Managers

The following is a complete list all Manchester United managers and the major football honours that they won.

United Manager
Major Honours Won
James West
1900 – 1903
Ernest Magnall
Oct 1903 – Sep 1912
2 Lgs; 1 FA Cup
John Bentley
Oct 1912 – Dec 1914
Jack Robson
Dec 1914 – Oct 1921
John Chapman
Oct 1921 – Oct 1926
Clarence ‘Lal’ Hilditch
Oct 1926 – Apr 1927
Herbert Bamlett
Apr 1927 – Nov 1931
Walter Crickmer
Nov 1931 – Jul 1932
Scott Duncan
Jul 1932 – Nov 1937
Walter Crickmer
Nov 1937 – Feb 1945
Matt Busby (1)
Feb 1945 – Aug 1969
5 Lgs; 2 FA Cups; 1 Euro Cup
Wilf McGuinness
Aug 1969 – Dec 1970
Matt Busby
Dec 1970 – Jun 1971
Frank O’Farrell
Jun 1971 – Dec 1972
Tommy Docherty
Dec 1972 – Jul 1977
1 FA Cup
Dave Sexton
July 1977 – Apr 1981
Ron Atkinson
9 Jun 1981 – Nov 1986
2 FA Cups
Alex Ferguson
Nov 1986 – May 2013
13 Lgs; 5 FA Cups; 4 Lg Cups; 2 Euro Cups; 1 Cup Wn Cups; 1 Spr Cup; 1 Inter Cup;
1 Club WC
David Moyes
July 2013 – April 2014
Ryan Giggs (2)
April 2014 – May 2014
Louis Van Gaal
2014 –

(1) Jimmy Murphy managed Manchester United from Feb to Jun 1958 while Matt Busby recuperated following the Munich air disaster

(2) Ryan Giggs managed Manchester United on an interim basis for four matches following the departure of David Moyes and before the arrival of Louis Van Gaal.


Manchester United History – Irish Man Utd Players

Trevor Anderson – Harry Baird – Billy Behan – George Best – Jackie Blanchflower – Robbie Brady
Derek Brazil Tommy Breen – Shay Brennan – Ronnie Briggs – David Byrne – Noel Cantwell
Johnny Carey Joe Carolan – Roy Carroll – Tom Connell – Gerry Daly – Bernard Donaghy – Mal Donaghy
Tony Dunne Pat Dunne – Jonny Evans – Sonny Feehan – Darron Gibson – John Giles – Keith Gillespie
Don Givens Harry Gregg – Ashley Grimes – Mickey Hamill – David Healy – Denis Irwin
Tommy Jackson Michael Keane – Roy Keane – Paddy Kennedy – Davy Lyner – Mick Martin
David McCreery Noel McFarlane – Pat McGibbon – Chris McGrath – Paul McGrath – Sammy McIlroy
Sammy McMillan Walter McMillen – Liam Miller – Kevin Moran – Tommy Morrison – Phil Mulryne
Jimmy Nicholl Jimmy Nicholson – Liam O’Brien – John O’Shea – Patrick O’Connell – John Peden
James Robinson Paddy Roche – Jackie Scott – Tom Sloan – Frank Stapleton – Billy Toms
Anthony Whelan Liam Whelan – Norman Whiteside

Manchester United Blog – Manchester United Supporters Clubs


Liverpool History – Liverpool Irish Players – Liverpool Supporters Clubs
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Irish Footballers
Liam Brady – Damien Duff – Eamon Dunphy – Robbie Keane – Niall Quinn