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Manchester United FC
Manchester United FC

Manchester United is an English professional football club from Old Trafford in the Stretford area of Greater Manchester.

The club competes in the Premier League, the top-tier of league-football in the country. It enjoys one of the biggest global fan-bases with over 200 official supporters clubs in 24 countries.

One of the elite clubs in Europe, Manchester United has won 20 league-titles, 12 FA Cups, 5 League Cups and 21 FA Community Shields. It is a 3-time winner of the UEFA Champions League and has lifted the UEFA Europa League, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, the UEFA Super Cup, the Intercontinental Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup as well.

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Identity

Often referred to as Man Utd, the club is nicknamed the Red Devils. The team uses red shirts with white shorts and black socks for its home-kit. The crest was derived from the Manchester City Council coat of arms but all that remains from it is a ship in full sail. The sinister looking devil holding a trident was added to the emblem in 1975.

Man Utd had Newton Heath as its home-ground before moving to Old Trafford in 1910 and has remained there ever since. With a capacity of 74,410, it is the 2nd largest football stadium in the UK behind England’s national stadium Wembley, which makes it the biggest home-venue for any British football club.

The Red Devils share a local rivalry with Manchester City and the two clubs compete in the Manchester derby, which has become a major event in the English football calendar since the latter’s ascension to the top of the Premier League. The club also has a historic rivalry with Leeds United which stems from the War of the Roses.

However, the biggest rival for Man Utd has always been Liverpool which is rooted in the competition between the two cities during the 19th century Industrial Revolution. Man Utd also developed a heated rivalry with Arsenal when the two clubs regularly battled each other for top honors during the first decade and half of the Premier League.

History

Manchester United began in 1878 as Newton Heath LYR Football Club. The initiative was taken by the Carriage & Wagon department of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Company. The club went on to join league-football with the Football Alliance which ran for 3 seasons before merging with the Football League.

The Early Decades

Newton Heath played its first season in the Football League First Division in 1892/93. By this time, it was independent of the railway company and dropped the LYR from its name. It ended at the bottom in the first two seasons and was relegated at the end of 1893/94 after losing the Test match to Liverpool.

In January 1902 Newton Heath received a winding-up order due to overriding debts. Club-captain Harry Stafford then found four local businessmen, each willing to invest £500 in return for a direct interest in running the club. This included John Henry Davies who later became club-president and changed its name to Manchester United.

Manchester United finished as runners-up of the Second Division in 1905/06 and was promoted back to the top-tier after 12 years. After taking 8th place on its return to the First Division, Man Utd was able to secure its piece of major silverware by winning the league-title in 1907/08.

Man Utd started the following 1908/09 season by winning its first Charity Shield and ended the campaign by winning the FA cup for the first time by defeating Bristol City 1-0 in the final. A couple of years later, it picked up the First Division title for the 2nd time at the end of 1910/11.

The club stayed in the First Division but did not earn any more trophies when World War I broke out in Europe which had halted the Football League for 4 years. Following the end of the war, Man Utd were no longer fighting at the top-end and were relegated after ending 1921/22 down in 22nd position.

Man Utd stayed in the 2nd tier for a couple of years before finishing the 1924/25 season as runners-up of the Second Division to return to the top-flight. It occupied a mid-table spot in the First Division for the next few years until it ended the 1930/31 campaign in 22nd position to get relegated once again.

The club barely avoided dropping further down to the 3rd tier after ending the 1933/34 season just a point above the drop-zone in 20th position of the Second Division. Man Utd was able to earn promotion a couple of years later by winning the title in 1935/36. But it was relegated back to the 2nd tier after a single campaign at the top-flight.

Nevertheless, United was able to seal an immediate promotion after finishing as the runners-up of the Second Division in 1937/38. It ended the 1938/39 season in 14th spot of the First Division table and the Football League was suspended for the next 7 years with the start of World War II.

The Post-War Era

Before the 1945/46 season, when the Football League resumed after the end of the war, Matt Busby was named as the manager of Manchester United who demanded extreme control in running the club. The Red Devils finished his maiden campaign as runners-up in the First Division behind Liverpool.

The Red Devils finished in 2nd place once again in 1947/48 after lifting the FA Cup for the 2nd time with a 4-2 victory over Blackpool in the final. Man Utd went on to finish as the runners-up in 1948/49 and 1950/51 as well. The club was finally able to win its 3rd First Division title in 1951/52.

Man Utd ended outside the top-3 positions in the next 3 seasons before winning the First Division in 1955/56 to gain its maiden entry into the European Cup. It reached the semi-finals of the competition before bowing out to Real Madrid. The club was able to defend its league-title in 1956/57 but later lost the FA Cup final to Aston Villa.

On 6th February 1958, while returning from its European Cup quarter-final victory over Red Star Belgrade, the aircraft carrying Manchester United players and officials along with journalists crashed while take-off after refuelling in Munich. The disaster claimed 20 lives which included 8 Man Utd players.

While Matt Busby made a slow recovery, a new makeshift team was assigned under his deputy Jimmy Murphy. It managed to reach the final of the FA Cup in 1957/58 where it went down 2-0 to Bolton Wanderers. Busby returned to the club the following season and led the team to 2nd place in 1958/59.

Over the next few years, Utd went out of title-contention while the team was rebuilt after the Munich air disaster. The club picked up its 3rd FA Cup with a 1-3 win over Leicester City. It went on to finish the next campaign as runners-up behind Liverpool before winning the First Division title in 1964/65.

The Red Devils ended at the top of First Division once again in 1966/67. It then ended the 1967/68 campaign in 2nd place behind local-rivals Manchester City but had secured a passage to the European Cup. Man Utd faced Portuguese side Benfica at Wembley and ran out 4-1 winners in extra-time, becoming the first English club to lift the trophy.

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Gradual Decline

Manchester United started the 1968/69 campaign by losing the intercontinental Cup to Argentinian side Estudiantes. It was also knocked out in the semi-finals of the European Cup AC Milan. It then ended the First Division down in 11th spot and Matt Busby stepped down as the manager with reserve team coach Wilf McGuiness moving into the role.

After finishing 1969/70 in 8th place Matt Busby returned for a short spell in 1970/71 but without making any improvement. Frank O’Farrell was the next manager and lasted just 18 months before being replaced by Tommy Docherty who initially saved the team from the drop in 1972/73 but was relegated at the end of 1973/74.

Man Utd started 1974/75 in the Second Division but managed to pick up the title to earn an immediate promotion to the top-flight. Upon making its return to the First Division, it ended 1975/76 in 3rd position and reached the final of the FA Cup where it was beaten 0-1 by Southampton.

In 1976/77, Man Utd went to the FA Cup final once again. This time it bagged a 1-2 victory over arch-nemesis Liverpool to lift the trophy for the 4th time. The club played its 3rd cup-final in 4 years after going into the final again in 1978/79 where it lost 3-2 against Arsenal.

Meanwhile the First Division title remained elusive as the Red Devils ended as runners-up once more in 1979/80. Man Utd picked up its 5th FA Cup in 1982/83 with a 4-0 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion in a replay of the final. It won the trophy again in 1984/85 by beating Everton 1-0 in the final.

Man Utd was unable to break the dominance of Liverpool and Everton over the First Division during the 1980’s. In the middle of 1986/87, Alex Ferguson was named as the new manager with the club in a severe crisis. After taking the club away from relegation, Ferguson led his side to a distant 2nd place behind Liverpool in 1897/88.

The Contemporary Period

Manchester United won its first trophy of the Ferguson-era with the FA Cup in 1989/90 by defeating Crystal Palace 0-1 in the after a replay. Two years later, it won the League Cup for the first time with a 1-0 victory over Nottingham Forest in the final before ending the 1991/92 campaign as runners-up of the First Division.

Premier League Dominance

For the 1992/93 season, Manchester United became one of the founding members of the Premier League, which became the new top-flight of English football. Its evolution incidentally heralded the most glorious period of the club as the Red Devils won the inaugural season to end a 25-year wait for the top-division title.

Man Utd comfortably retained the Premier League in 1993/94 and defeated Chelsea 4-0 in the final of the FA Cup to complete the first double in the history of the club. But it lost the league-title to Blackburn Rovers in 1994/95 before going down 0-1 to Everton in the final of the FA Cup.

The Red Devils regained the Premier League in 1995/96 and went on to beat Liverpool 1-0 in the FA Cup final to round off yet another double. Man Utd defended the Premier League in 1996/97 but lost the title to Arsenal by a single point in the following season which gave rise to this new-age rivalry in the coming years.

In 1998/99, United beat Arsenal by 1 point to regain the Premier League. It then beat Newcastle Utd 2-0 in the FA Cup final to win the trophy for the 10th time. Man Utd had also reached the UEFA Champions League final where it scored two injury-time goals to defeat Bayern München and complete an unprecedented treble for any English club.

United won the Premier League again in 1999/2000 and secured its 3rd straight league-title in 2000/01. But it dropped down to 3rd spot in 2001/02, the first time the club had ended outside the top-2 in the Premier League. It lost the League Cup final to Liverpool in 2002/03 but managed to win back the league-title.

Man Utd finished in 3rd spot in 2003/04 but was able to win the FA Cup with a 3-0 win over Millwall. It ended in 3rd spot once again in 2004/05, before losing the FA Cup final to Arsenal in a penalty shootout. In 2005/06, the club clinched its 2nd League Cup but ended without the Premier League for the third year in a row.

In 2006/07, Man Utd ended the season at the summit of the Premier League to be crowned champions of England for the 15th occasion. A week later, it was beaten 0-1 in extra-time by Chelsea in the final of the FA Cup which stopped the club from recording yet another double.

The Red Devils successfully defended its Premier League title in 2007/08 and reached the final of the UEFA Champions League once again. In the first all-English final of the history of the competition, United edged past Chelsea in a penalty-shootout to become the champions of Europe for the 3rd time.

Man Utd picked up the FIFA Club World Cup in 2008/09 before adding the League Cup with a penalty-shootout win against Tottenham Hotspur. It then clinched its 3rd consecutive Premier League after reaching the UEFA Champions League final where it lost the title to FC Barcelona following a 0-2 defeat in the final.

United added another League Cup triumph in 2009/10 with a 2-1 victory against Aston Villa. The Red Devils had lost the Premier League crown by a single point to Chelsea but were able to recover it in 2010/11. The club had nearly retained the title in 2011/12 but Manchester City was able to snatch it on the final day.

Despite that heartbreaking loss, Man Utd bounced back quickly and cantered home with the Premier League trophy in 2012/13. However, Alex Ferguson called time on his 26-year reign as manager at the end of the season after leading the club 13 league-titles and overtaking arch-rivals Liverpool as the most successful English club.

Recent Stagnation

David Moyes was unveiled as the new manager of Manchester United with a 6-year contract but he was dismissed just 10 months later with the club dropping out of the top-4 of the Premier League for the first time and eventually finishing the campaign in 7th position.

Louis van Gaal was brought in as the replacement in 2014/15 and he secured a return to the Champions League after finishing the league in 4th position at the end of his first season. In 2015/16, Man Utd beat Crystal Palace 2-1 in the FA Cup final yet van Gaal was dismissed as the club ended outside the top-4.

For the 2016/17 campaign, the highly decorated Jose Mourinho, who was regarded to be a serial-winner arrived as the new manager of Manchester United. The club picked up the EFL Cup with a 3-2 victory over Southampton in the final but only managed a 6th place finish in the Premier League.

In 2017/18, Mourinho guided Man Utd to a 2nd place finish despite finishing a mammoth 19 points behind Manchester City. It reached the FA Cup final as well before losing the game 0-1 to Chelsea. Utd made a sluggish start to 2018/19 and Mourinho was replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on an interim basis who took the club to a 6th place finish.

Solskjaer was handed a permanent deal at the start of 2019/20 and United finished his maiden campaign in 3rd position despite being more than 30 points behind champions Liverpool. The club finished the 2020/21 campaign as runners-up even though it hardly a glove on champions Man City in the title-race.

Man Utd made a strong start to 2021/22 Premier League season before going through a terrible patch which eventually led to the dismissal of Solskjaer last November. Ralf Ragnick came in as the interim-manager but failed to make much of an improvement and Man Utd ended the season in 6th position.

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