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Old 01-14-2011, 03:54 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Manchester United Fans Corner

Manchester United Football Club is an English professional football club, based in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, that plays in the Premier League. Founded as Newton Heath LYR Football Club in 1878, the club changed its name to Manchester United in 1902 and moved to Old Trafford in 1910.

Manchester United have won many trophies in English football, including a record 20 League titles, a record 11 FA Cups, four League Cups and a record 20 FA Community Shields. The club has also won three European Cups, one UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, one UEFA Super Cup, one Intercontinental Cup and one FIFA Club World Cup. In 199899, the club won a continental treble of the Premier League, the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League, an unprecedented feat for an English club.

Manchester United was the first English football club to win the European Cup

Manchester United is the third-richest football club in the world for 201112 in terms of revenue, with an annual revenue of 395.9 million, and the second most valuable club in 2013, valued at $3.165 billion. It is one of the most widely supported football teams in the world. After being floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1991, the club was purchased by Malcolm Glazer in May 2005 in a deal valuing the club at almost 800 million.In August 2012, Manchester United made an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange.

Manchester United is reputed to be the most popular football club in the world, with one of the highest average home attendance in Europe. The club states that its worldwide fan base includes more than 200 officially recognised branches of the Manchester United Supporters Club (MUSC), in at least 24 countries. The club takes advantage of this support through its worldwide summer tours. Accountancy firm and sports industry consultants Deloitte estimate that Manchester United has 75 million fans worldwide while other estimates put this figure closer to 333 million.
Supporters are represented by two independent bodies; the Independent Manchester United Supporters' Association (IMUSA), which maintains close links to the club through the MUFC Fans Forum, and the Manchester United Supporters' Trust (MUST). After the Glazer family's takeover in 2005, a group of fans formed a splinter club, F.C. United of Manchester. The West Stand of Old Trafford the "Stretford End" is the home end and the traditional source of the club's most vocal support.

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Old 01-14-2011, 07:46 PM   #2 (permalink)
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HISTORY BY DECADE

1878-1909
Manchester United Football Club was first formed in 1878, albeit under a different name - Newton Heath LYR (Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway).

Little suspecting the impact they were about to have on the national, even global game, the workers in the railway yard at Newton Heath indulged their passion for association football with games against other departments of the LYR or other railway companies.

Indeed, when the Football League was formed in 1888, Newton Heath did not consider themselves good enough to become founder members alongside the likes of Blackburn Rovers and Preston North End. They waited instead until 1892 to make their entrance.

Financial problems plagued Newton Heath, and by the start of the twentieth century it seemed they were destined for extinction. The club was saved, however, by a local brewery owner, John Henry Davies. Legend has it that he learned of the club's plight when he found a dog belonging to Newton Heath captain Harry Stafford.

Davies decided to invest in Newton Heath, in return for some interest in running it. This led to a change of name and, after several alternatives including Manchester Central and Manchester Celtic were rejected, Manchester United was born in April/May 1902.

The next influential figure to arrive at United was Ernest Mangnall, who was appointed secretary in September 1903 but is widely acknowledged as being the club's first manager. His side, including new signings like goalkeeper Harry Moger and forward Charlie Sagar, finished third in the Second Division in 1903/04 and again in 1904/05.

The following season, 1905/06, was to prove one of the greatest in the early life of Manchester United. The half-back line of Dick Duckworth, Alex Bell and captain Charlie Roberts were instrumental in the side which reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, but more importantly finished as runners-up in the Second Division. Twelve years after being relegated, United reclaimed their place in the top flight.

To celebrate, Mangnall signed Billy Meredith from rivals Manchester City. Nicknamed the Welsh Wizard, Meredith had been implicated in a bribery scandal at City, and was due to be auctioned along with 17 other players. Mangnall made his move early, and acquired Meredith's signature before the bidding began.

The winger's arrival proved to be inspirational - Meredith set up countless goals for Sandy Turnbull in 1907/08 when United won the Football League Championship for the first time. As champions, United played in the first-ever Charity Shield in 1908. They duly won the trophy, beating Southern League champions QPR 4-0 thanks to a hat-trick from Sandy's namesake, Jimmy Turnbull.

The third trophy to be added to the club's honours board was the FA Cup, at the end of a tremendous run in 1909. United beat Bristol City 1-0 in the final, thanks to Sandy Turnbull's goal.

1910-1919
The words Old Trafford entered football folklore for the first time during the 1909/10 season. The land on which the stadium was built was bought by the Manchester Brewery Company (John Henry Davies) and leased to the club. Davies himself paid for the building work, which commenced in 1908 under the supervision of architect Archibald Leitch. By 1910, the club had moved lock, stock and barrel from their old home of Bank Street.

United's first fixture at Old Trafford was played on 19 February 1910. The new hosts lost 4-3 to their first visitors Liverpool, but the stadium was successful in accommodating an 80,000 capacity crowd. Two days previously, the old wooden stand at Bank Street had been blown down by strong winds - further evidence, perhaps, that United were suited to and needed their new home.

Indeed, United were crowned League Champions for the second time at the end of their first full season at Old Trafford - 1910/1911. They clinched the title at home on the final day of the season, beating Sunderland 5-1 with Harold Halse grabbing two of the goals. Halse also scored six goals as United beat Swindon Town 8-4 to clinch the Charity Shield.

Despite such feats, United could not keep up their winning run and in 1911/12, the defending champions finished disappointingly in thirteenth place. Secretary-manager Ernest Mangnall bore the brunt of the criticism, and resigned to join United's neighbours and rivals Manchester City. The search for Mangnall's successor finished at the door of JJ Bentley, the president of the Football League. Under his guidance the Reds claimed fourth place in the League at the end of the 1912/13 season.

The 1913/14 season was a period of transition, while the following campaign was notable for a change of management - in December 1914, the roles of secretary and team manager were separated for the first time. Bentley became full-time secretary and John Robson was appointed to look after and select the team.

Robson's team was a shadow of the one which had performed so well in the previous decade, as only George Stacey, Billy Meredith, Sandy Turnbull and George Wall remained from the 1909 FA Cup-winning side. Not surprisingly, the club struggled, only escaping relegation by a single point.

Before United could form a plan for recovery, the outbreak of the First World War put football firmly to the back of people's minds. The Football League was suspended, and clubs resorted to playing in regional competitions.

United played in the Lancashire Prinicipal and Subsidiary Tournaments for four seasons, but this was a less than successful diversion, the misery compounded by the fact that two of the club's players were found guilty of match fixing. Enoch West was banned for life as was Sandy Turnbull, who joined the Footballers' Battalion to help Britain's war effort.

Tragically Turnbull was killed during a battle in France in May 1917, to leave United without another of their early century heroes for their return to league football in 1919/20.

1920-1929
Manchester United returned to League football on 30 August 1919, following a four-year gap caused by the First World War. The team for that first match back against Derby County included many new faces - in fact only two of the men on duty had played in United's previous league game at the end of the 1914/15 season.

Billy Meredith was still at Old Trafford, but reaching the end of his illustrious Old Trafford career. He made only 19 appearances in 1919/20 when United finished 12th in the First Division. The new hero of the terraces, Joe Spence, finished the season as the team's top scorer with 14 League goals. He was joint top scorer again in 1920/21, but this time with half the tally as United again under-achieved to finish in 13th place.

Manager John Robson then left the club, to be replaced by John Chapman, who reverted to the dual role of secretary/manager last held by JJ Bentley. Meanwhile, former manager Ernest Mangnall continued to make the local headlines with City, as they moved into a new stadium at Maine Road.

Mangnall also re-signed Meredith for City and despite his advancing years, it was perhaps no coincidence that United were relegated in their first season without him, winning only 8 of their 42 matches in 1921/22. Chapman's team that played in the Second Division until the third attempt, when the on-field leadership of Frank Barson resulted in promotion at the end of 1924/25. United finished second to Leicester City, after losing only eight games.

United's top flight status was cemented with a ninth-place finish in 1925/26. Chapman's team also went on a great run in the FA Cup, but this came to a halt in the semi-finals when Manchester City beat them 3-0 at Bramall Lane. City's luck then ran out, as they lost both the final (to Bolton) and their place in the First Division.

Not that United supporters could afford to laugh at City. Two months into the 1926/27 season, they had troubles of their own when the FA suspended manager John Chapman with immediate effect, the reasons for which never became public. Wing-half Clarence Hilditch took over as player-manager while the club looked for a more permanent replacement, but 'Lal' was reluctant to pick himself, and the team suffered.

Chapman's permanent successor, Herbert Bamlett, arrived later that season. He was already known to United fans as the referee who called off the club's FA Cup quarter-final tie at Burnley in 1909, when their team was trailing 1-0 in the midst of a blizzard. Bamlett, though, was too cold to blow the final whistle, so Charlie Roberts did the job and United went on to win the Cup that season!

Sadly Bamlett had no further impact on United's success as their manager. The team slowly slipped down the First Division, finishing 15th in 1926/27 and 18th in 1927/28, only to recover slightly to 12th in 1928/29. Joe Spence continued to score goals by the bucketload but not even he could stop United's steady decline...
1930-1939
The decline that had started in the 1920's continued at the outset of the 1930's. United finished 17th in 1929/30, to fill their fans with dread. Their fears were realised in the next season, when United made the worst start in their history by losing their first twelve league matches in a row. The dozen defeats included back-to-back thrashings at Old Trafford, 6-0 by Huddersfield Town and then 7-4 by Newcastle United.

United eventually lost 27 of their 42 league matches in 1930/31, conceding 115 goals. Their relegation led to manager Herbert Bamlett bowing out, and secretary Walter Crickmer taking charge of team affairs. The patience of the supporters was being severely tested, and many of them did not hang around - only 3,507 turned up for the opening match of the following season. As the season went on, the situation deteriorated. By December, there was no money to pay the players wages. Bankruptcy was a real threat.

The club's saviour came in the shape of James Gibson, a manufacturer of army uniforms. He invested 30,000, paid the players and got the club back on track. He appointed a new manager, Scott Duncan, who was given money to spend. However, he did not make the most of it.

A dreadful run under Duncan in 1933/34 took United to the brink of being relegated into the Third Division for the first time in the club’s history. Survival was only secured on the last day of the season, when they won 2-0 with goals from Tom Manley and Jack Cape to send their opponents, Millwall, down instead. In that same week, Manchester City had won the FA Cup, with a man named Matt Busby in their side.

United finished the 1934/35 season in fifth place, and then in 1935/36 claimed their first silverware of the decade. Unbeaten during the last 19 games of the campaign, they secured the Second Division Championship with a 3-2 win over Bury at Gigg Lane, thanks to goals from Manley and George Mutch.

Their end-of-season form in the Second Division suggested United would do well on their return to the First, but by Christmas they had only won four matches, including one on Christmas Day itself! Only ten wins in the whole season meant relegation, with City again providing stark contrast as the League Champions. The relegated United team included Walter Winterbottom, who would later be knighted after managing England for 16 years.

The yo-yoing continued as United were promoted again the next season, 1937/38, as runners-up to Aston Villa. Scott Duncan could only claim some of the credit, as he left the club in November 1937 to become manager of Ipswich Town. Walter Crickmer again stepped into the breach as United's caretaker manager.

The highlight of Duncan and Crickmer's season was the discovery of Johnny Carey, who would later be recognised as one of the greatest full-backs in football history. Playing 32 games and scoring six goals, Carey helped United to stay up this time, finishing 14th, while City took their turn to be relegated! There was no time to gloat, however - the outbreak of war put the Football League on hold again, for several years.

1940-1949
The outbreak of the Second World War forced football to the very back of people's minds between 1939 and 1946. But even in the absence of League football, Old Trafford was still the focus of attention.

On 11 March 1941 the stadium was bombed during a German air raid. The attack destroyed the main stand, dressing rooms and offices. It was a devastating blow, but within a few years, there would be optimism again around the famous old ground.

It came with a man named Matt Busby, who would prove to be the most important figure in the history of Manchester United. A former Manchester City and Liverpool player, Busby served in the Ninth Battalion of the King's Liverpool Regiment where his leadership qualities shone through. These qualities did not go unnoticed by United.

Busby joined the Reds in 1945, initially on a five-year contract. Little did he know he would still be managing the club 25 years later!

Busby didn't waste any time in making his mark, altering the positions of several key players. He also founded the "Famous Five" forwards when he brought together Jimmy Delaney, Stan Pearson, Jack Rowley, Charlie Mitten and Johnny Morris.

Perhaps the most important signing Busby made, however, was on the coaching staff. Matt had met Jimmy Murphy during the war, and identified him as his perfect right-hand man. The pair formed a partnership that would see United become a power in world football.

Busby and Murphy's first step on the road to glory was to build a team that was capable of challenging for domestic honours. They succeeded almost at the first attempt, as United finished second to Liverpool in the first Football League campaign after the war, 1946/47. It was the club's highest placing for 36 years, and there was extra cause for optimism when the Reserves won their (Central) League Championship in the same season.

Busby's mix of young local lads and established players won their first trophy the following year, when they beat the Blackpool side of Stanley Matthews, Stan Mortensen and Harry Johnston in the 1948 FA Cup Final. It was 39 years to the day that United had previously won the Cup, in 1909.

The FA Cup was also the club's first major honour since winning the League Championship in 1911, and recapturing the title would now become the number one target for Matt Busby's men. During the first five seasons of his post-war reign, United finished second on four occasions, and fourth on the other (1949/50).

The thrill of the chase for honours brought the fans flooding back – more than one million of them passed through the turnstiles in the 1947/48 season, dragging the club out of debt. Surely these fans wouldn't have to wait long to be rewarded with the prize they all craved…

1950-1959
The 1950's dawned with the break-up of Matt Busby’s first successful United side - the 1948 FA Cup-winning team. Dressing room dissent led to Johnny Morris departing for Derby and Charlie Mitten exporting his wing wizardry to Colombia. Fans worried by the duo's departure were soon placated.

The great Scot’s plan was to promote the youngsters he’d been recruiting and grooming in the late 1940’s. Jackie Blanchflower and Roger Byrne were the first to emerge and be labelled ‘Babes’ by the newspapers; in their debut season 1951/52, United won the League Championship for the first time since 1911.

In 1955/56 and 1956/57, Byrne lifted the Championship trophy as skipper of a great young side that included several more products of Busby’s youth academy. Eddie Colman, Mark Jones and David Pegg were all first team regulars, having cut their teeth in the FA Youth Cup, which United won five years in a row from its inception in 1953.

Not all the young talent was home-grown, however. The United manager was equally happy to plunge into the transfer market, as shown by the big money signings of proven internationals Tommy Taylor and goalkeeper Harry Gregg.

Another young man who excelled for club and country was Duncan Edwards. So powerful, talented and mature was the Dudley teenager that Matt Busby could not hold him back from United’s first team. In April 1953, he became the First Division’s youngest-ever player at the age of 16 years and 185 days.

One match that epitomised the new Busby Babes era was against Arsenal at Highbury on 1 February 1958. In front of a crowd of 63,578 the Reds beat the Gunners in a nine-goal thriller with goals from Edwards, Taylor (2), Bobby Charlton and Dennis Viollet.

Sadly, what was perhaps their greatest game on English soil was certainly to be the last for that particular Manchester United team. From Highbury, the Babes headed off into Europe to play the second leg of a tie against Red Star Belgrade. Again they won 5-4, this time on aggregate, but on the way home their celebrations were cut short by tragedy.

After refuelling in Munich on 6 February 1958, the United aeroplane crashed, killing twenty-two people, including seven players – Byrne, Colman, Jones, Pegg, Taylor, Geoff Bent and Liam Whelan. Duncan Edwards died of his injuries fifteen days later in a German hospital. The club, the city of Manchester and the English game entered a long period of mourning. It seemed inconceivable that United could recover from such an appalling loss.

But as Busby defied the medics to recover from his crash wounds, the team bounced back and, patched up by Jimmy Murphy, they reached the FA Cup Final in May 1958. They lost at Wembley to Bolton Wanderers, twelve months after losing the final to Aston Villa.

To continue the theme of finishing a close second, the Reds were also runners-up in the League Championship of 1958/59.

After building one of the greatest teams seen in England, Matt Busby had to start all over again at the start of the 1960's. The Munich air disaster had robbed him, and football, of some of the era's greatest players. But once the great manager had recovered from his own injuries, he set about building another side to take the world by storm.

Dennis Viollet was one of the leading names within this team. In 1959/60, the Munich survivor broke Jack Rowley's club record by scoring 32 goals in one league season. The team in total scored 102, but they conceded 80 and finished in seventh place.

Viollet wasn't the only Munich survivor to enjoy a great Old Trafford career; others included Bill Foulkes, and Bobby Charlton, who came through the club's youth ranks to break goalscoring records for club and country. Nobby Stiles also rose through the ranks, while Denis Law came via a record 115,000 transfer from Torino.

United's form was erratic at the start of the decade, while new names settled in, but then everything came together with a run to Wembley for the 1962/63 FA Cup Final. Busby's new-look team beat Leicester 3-1, with two goals from David Herd and one by Law.

The next season saw United build on the foundations of FA Cup success to challenge for the title – finishing second, only four points behind the champions Liverpool, to whom they lost both at home and away. The 1962/63 season was also notable for the signing and debut of George Best, the young man from Belfast who would become football's first superstar. His incredible skill, pace and control left opponents in knots, making him a hit with the fans, while his filmstar looks made him a hit with the ladies.

In 1964/65, the famous trio of Best, Law and Charlton took United to new heights. They won the League Championship, pipping Leeds on goal difference, and reached the semi-finals of the European Fairs Cup and the FA Cup. Law plundered goals galore and was named the European Footballer of the Year.

The title-winning team seemed to be the finished article, but they finished a disappinting fourth the following season, and exited both the FA and European Cups in the semi-finals. The season's highlight had been the 5-1 away thrashing of Benfica in the European Cup quarter-finals, when Best had been in blistering form.

In 1966/67 United were crowned League Champions again and another season of European Cup football was guaranteed. This time, United would go all the way, beating Benfica in the final at Wembley. Jaime Graca equalised Charlton's headed goal to take the game into extra-time, but further goals from Best, Brian Kidd and Charlton gave United their first European Cup. Just 10 years after Sir Matt had seen his dream team destroyed, he had performed the impossible. He was knighted soon afterwards.

1970-1979
With memories of the European Cup triumph beginning to fade, Manchester United's attentions turned to their managerial vacancy. Sir Matt Busby had led the club to the promised land but had now retired, leaving the board with a problem.

Their first solution was to appoint from within, by promoting one of Busby's coaches and former players Wilf McGuinness to the senior position. A combination of ageing players and the lack of overall control in team affairs meant that McGuinness struggled with Sir Matt looking over his shoulder. Putting players like Denis Law and Shay Brennan on the transfer list didn't help matters, neither did George Best's off-field antics.

Wilf wasn't allowed to struggle for too long. On Boxing Day 1970 he was relieved of his duties and Sir Matt was put back in temporary charge. Frank O'Farrell was the next man to take charge in June 1971 but, despite a promising start, United's 5-0 defeat by Crystal Palace on 16 December 1972 was the Irishman's last match in charge.

Although O'Farrell's reign was short, he still left his mark by signing Martin Buchan for a record fee of 125,000. The former Aberdeen captain was to become a key player for O'Farrell's successor, Tommy Docherty, who was appointed at Christmas in 1972.

The Doc's first challenge was to keep the team up while gradually replacing the legends of the 1960's. Sir Bobby Charlton had announced he would retire at the end of the 1972/73 season, George Best was veering off the rails once again and Denis Law had passed his peak. Law, in fact, was given a free transfer in July 1973, a move which later came back to haunt Docherty. The striker joined Manchester City and scored at Old Trafford in April 1974, on a day when United's relegation to the Second Division was confirmed.

To Docherty's credit, the Reds bounced back very quickly. They won the Second Division Championship in 1974/75, with top scorer Stuart 'Pancho' Pearson scoring 17 league goals. Lou Macari scored the goal that clinched promotion, at Southampton on 5 April 1975.

United then reached successive FA Cup finals, losing to Southampton in 1976, but beating Liverpool 2-1 a year later. The Doc's men rose perfectly to the challenge of destroying Liverpool's Treble hopes – the Merseyside club won the League Championship and the European Cup on either side of United's triumph. The joy of that win didn't last very long for the Doc, however. Just 44 days later, he was sacked when it emerged he had set up home with his lover Mary, the wife of the club physiotherapist Laurie Brown.

QPR manager Dave Sexton stepped into the breach, and although he finished no higher than tenth in the table in his first two seasons 1977/78 and 1978/79, he again guided the side to Wembley in 1979. Unfortunately the Reds lost there, 3-2 to Arsenal in one of the most memorable finishes to an FA Cup Final. Gordon McQueen and then Sammy McIlroy scored in the last five minutes to bring United back from 2-0 down, only

United made a poor start to the 1980's. Following an early FA Cup exit to Spurs and a First Division hammering at Ipswich, however, Dave Sexton and his team recovered to win eight of their last ten league games, and finish just two points behind Liverpool in the title race.

United produced another blistering finish at the end of the following season, 1980/81, when they won their last seven league games in a row. This time, however, they could only finish eighth in the table – a position which the club's board could not tolerate. Sexton was sacked on 30 April 1981, after four seasons in the hotseat.

Sexton’s replacement Ron Atkinson brought in Mick Brown as assistant manager and Eric Harrison as youth coach. But it was his on-the-field acquisitions that really excited the fans. He broke the British transfer record to recruit Bryan Robson from his old club West Bromwich Albion for 1.5m and he spent around a third of that again to add another ex-Albion man, Remi Moses, to the United squad.

In midfield the new arrivals wonderfully complemented the finesse of Ray Wilkins, the ball-playing England star. But still there was something missing. United needed a forward who could match the strike rate of Ian Rush at Liverpool, who again won the Championship in 1982, 1983 and 1984. Atkinson’s men were never far behind, finishing third or fourth in every season of his reign. But they were never that close either.

The domestic cups offered United their best chances of silverware, and in 1983, they reached Wembley in both competitions. Liverpool beat them 2-1 after extra-time to win the Milk (League) Cup, while little-fancied Brighton and Hove Albion were beaten in two attempts in the FA Cup final. A shock 2-2 draw was followed up by a thumping 4-0 win for United through goals from Robson (2), Arnold Muhren and Norman Whiteside.

Whiteside’s habit of rising to the big occasion was never more gratefully received than in 1985, when he curled in the only goal of the FA Cup Final to beat Everton 1-0. United had earlier been reduced to ten men by the dismissal of Kevin Moran, who formed a great defensive partnership in the 1980’s with Paul McGrath.

It was Atkinson’s second FA Cup success in three seasons, but eighteen months later he was sacked for his inability to break Merseyside’s monopoly of the League Championship. Not even ten straight wins at the start of 1985/86 could lead him to the Holy Grail.

In November 1986, United at last appointed a proven winner. At Aberdeen, Alex Ferguson had claimed every prize that Scotland had to offer, not to mention the added bonus of the European Cup Winners Cup when his team defied the odds to beat Real Madrid!

1990-1999
The dawn of the 1990's saw Alex Ferguson collecting his first silverware as Manchester United manager, and Liverpool winning their last League Championship with an ageing team. The tide was turning…

Fergie's first FA Cup, achieved after a replay against Crystal Palace, seemed at the time to be a stand-alone success, one that possibly saved his job after another poor season in the League. But nine years later, it seemed that Lee Martin's winning goal against Palace lit the fuse for an explosion of unprecedented success.

First and foremost, winning the FA Cup in 1990 allowed United to make their return to European competition after an absence of five years. Far from being rusty, they went all the way to the final of the European Cup Winners Cup in Rotterdam where their opponents were Barcelona, the former club of United striker Mark Hughes. Two goals by Hughes sealed the match 2-1 in Fergie's favour in May 1991, 23 years after the club's previous triumph in Europe.

The other long wait, for that elusive League Championship, very nearly ended in April 1992. The Reds had already won Fergie's third trophy in March, the League Cup, and were in a two-horse race with Leeds. Liverpool were out of the running, but they still had a say in the destiny of the title, beating United 2-0 at Anfield to ruin their challenge.

The 1991/92 title would be remembered in Manchester as the title that United lost, rather than the one that Leeds actually won. Leeds, after all, were not the greatest of football powers in the 1990's and their star quality was further reduced when they allowed one of their best players to join Manchester United in December 1992.

In selling Eric Cantona to Old Trafford, the Yorkshire club practically handed over the keys to the League Championship. The Frenchman brought that little extra bit of magic that had been missing from United's previous campaigns and was an instant hit with the Mancunian faithful, scoring nine goals to help the Reds win their first title in 26 years.

In the following season 1993/94, the team virtually picked itself en route to an historic League and FA Cup Double, with Cantona sporting the number seven shirt that had been Bryan Robson’s property for so long. The number one, meanwhile, was undoubtedly Peter Schmeichel, arguably the best goalkeeper ever seen at Old Trafford.

Cantona’s eight-month absence from January 1995, following his clash with a fan at Crystal Palace, proved to be United’s undoing as they tried to defend their Double. They lost the title by one point to Blackburn Rovers and then lost the FA Cup final by one goal to Everton. The former champions were hampered at Wembley by an injury to Steve Bruce, the brave captain who was a defensive rock in the early 1990’s.

2000-2009
United started the new decade, century and millennium in typical pioneering fashion. They entered a brand new competition – the FIFA Club World Championship in Brazil – but at the expense of their participation in the FA Cup, of which they were the holders.

The January jaunt to South America didn't result in any silverware but it gave the Reds valuable relaxation time in the sun. Rejuvenated by this, they raced ahead of their rivals in the title race when they returned to England. They achieved their sixth Premiership title early, in April, and still without a convincing replacement for Peter Schmeichel.

Several goalkeepers including Mark Bosnich tried and failed to establish themselves during the 1999/2000 season. So it was hardly surprising when World Cup and European Championship winner Fabien Barthez joined United in July 2000.

The eccentric but brilliant French goalkeeper helped United to win their third successive title in 2000/01, a feat that had previously been achieved by only a handful of clubs in England. Liverpool had been the last team to do it, in 1982, 1983 and 1984, but this was under the supervision of two different managers - Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan.

Sir Alex Ferguson had been at the helm for all three of United's back-to-back titles, and was the first manager in English football to achieve the hat-trick. On the back of this latest trophy, he announced his impending retirement, only to backtrack and decide to stay.

Ferguson's major signing in the summer of 2002 was Rio Ferdinand, one of England's best performers at the World Cup Finals in Japan and Korea. The 30m acquisition from Leeds added the steel that had arguably been missing from United's defence since the departure of Jaap Stam to Lazio.

Ferdinand helped the Reds to recapture their Premiership title in May 2003 but the calendar year ended on a low note for the defender - he was punished by the FA for failing to attend a mandatory drugs test at Carrington and was suspended for eight months.

In the period without Rio, the Reds lost their title - to Arsenal again - but won the FA Cup for a record eleventh time, beating Millwall 3-0 in the 2004 final at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. A year later United were back in Wales to face Arsenal for the trophy. Chelsea had taken the Premiership and Carling Cup, and it was the Gunners who triumphed on penalties despite a dominant display from United - for whom Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo were outstanding. The following season brought maiden silverware for the pair as the Reds beat Wigan Athletic in the Carling Cup final.

2010-
Despite a solid start to the campaign, United’s 2009/10 contained a sting in the tail as Chelsea’s late surge for the line curtailed the Reds’ chances of winning a fourth successive title by a single point in a race which ran until the final day of the season.

There was some solace to be found in the retention of the Carling Cup, achieved at Aston Villa’s expense and secured by a late winner from Wayne Rooney, whose individual excellence was rewarded with both the PFA Player’s Player of the Year and Football Writers’ Player of the Year awards.

Despite that single piece of silverware, the 2009/10 campaign was most notable for the heightened stakes of the Manchester derby, with mind-boggling investment inflating the ambition of Manchester City and putting them in the frame for honours. United’s local authority was exerted, however, with home and away Premier League wins and a Carling Cup semi-final triumph, with each victory dramatically procured in injury-time.

Both Manchester clubs were intent on bringing the Premier League trophy back to the North-West as the 2010/11 season began, and United’s squad was bolstered by the low-key captures of promising youngsters Javier Hernandez and Chris Smalling.

Though largely unknown, the duo quickly gelled with the squad and, despite a season of largely poor away form, United reclaimed the title for a record 19th domestic rule. While Rooney had powered the 2009/10 campaign with his prolific form in front of goal, 2010/11 was notably more of a squad success.

From the goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar – in his last season at the club – through to the ageless influence of Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, up to a revitalised Rooney, who put a poor spell of form and dramatic transfer U-turn well behind him, all hands were at the pump as Chelsea were dethroned.

A remarkable home record was the cornerstone of the success but, in Europe, it was miserly away form that helped propel the Reds into another Champions League final against Barcelona, this time at Wembley. For the second time in three years, Lionel Messi and co were ultimately too strong for United on the night, but it was that record 19th league title that made it another season to remember at Old Trafford.

The bid to quickly usher number 20 into the record books looked strong in the early stages of 2011/12. Sir Alex Ferguson strengthened his squad with the signings of David De Gea, Phil Jones and Ashley Young, while homegrown talents Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck made the step up to senior regularity.
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Old 01-14-2011, 08:54 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Old 01-14-2011, 10:49 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Old 01-15-2011, 11:57 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Old 01-15-2011, 05:55 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Old 01-18-2011, 11:28 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Old 01-19-2011, 02:36 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Old 01-20-2011, 06:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Premier League History


1992/93 - Inaugural members of the Premier League
1992/93 - Eric Cantona signs from Leeds United for 1.2m
1992/93 - Win FA Carling Premiership
1993/94 - Win FA Carling Premiership and FA Cup
1995/96 - Win FA Carling Premiership and FA Cup
1996/97 - Win FA Carling Premiership
1998/99 - Win FA Carling Premiership, European Cup, and FA Cup
1999/00 - Win FA Carling Premiership
2000/01 - Win FA Carling Premiership
2001/02 - Juan Sebastian Veron breaks the British transfer record with a 28m move from Lazio
2002/03 - Win Barclaycard Premiership
2003/04 - Win FA Cup
2005/06 - American Malcolm Glazer takes control of club
2005/06 - Win League Cup
2006/07 - Win Barclays Premiership
2007/08 - Win Barclays Premier League, win European Cup
2008/09 - Buy Dimitar Berbatov for club record 30.75m. Win Barclays Premier League, Carling Cup, World Club Championship.
2009/10 - Sell Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid for 80m. Win Carling Cup.
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Old 01-21-2011, 12:07 PM   #10 (permalink)
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