Manchester United F.C.

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Manchester United
Image:Manchester United FC.png
Full name Manchester United Football Club
Nickname(s) The Red Devils
Founded 1878, as Newton Heath L&YR F.C.
Ground Old Trafford
Greater Manchester
( Capacity 76,212)
Chairman Flag of the United States Joel & Avram Glazer
Manager Flag of Scotland Sir Alex Ferguson
League Premier League
2006–07 Premier League, 1st
Team colours Team colours Team colours
Team colours
Team colours
Home colours
Team colours Team colours Team colours
Team colours
Team colours
Away colours
Current season

Manchester United Football Club is an English football club, based at the Old Trafford stadium in Trafford, Greater Manchester, and is arguably the most popular football club in the world, with over 330 million supporters worldwide; 5% of the world's population. The club was a founding member of the Premier League in 1992, and has played in the top division of English football since 1975. Average attendances at the club have been higher than any other team in English football for all but six seasons since 1964–65.

The club is one of the most successful in English football; for over twenty years, since the 1986–87 season, they have won 18 major honours, which is more than any other Premier League club. They are the Premier League's reigning champions, and have won the Premier League/ Football League 16 times. In 1968, they became the first English club to win the European Cup, beating S.L. Benfica 4–1, and they won a second European Cup in 1999. They also hold the record for the most FA Cup titles with 11.

Since the late 1990s, the club has been one of the richest in the world with the highest revenue of any football club,, and is currently the second richest club in the world, based on revenue. Manchester United, which remains the most valuable club in the world, was a founding member of the now-defunct G-14 group of Europe's leading football clubs and its replacement, the European Club Association.

Sir Alex Ferguson has been manager of the club since 6 November 1986. The current club captain is Gary Neville, who succeeded Roy Keane in November 2005.


Early years (1878–1945)

The Manchester United team at the start of the 1905–06 season in which they were runners up in Division 2 and promoted
The Manchester United team at the start of the 1905–06 season in which they were runners up in Division 2 and promoted

The club was formed as Newton Heath L&YR F.C. in 1878 as the works team of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway depot at Newton Heath. The club's shirts were green and gold halves. They played on a small, dilapidated field on North Road, near the future site of the Manchester Piccadilly railway station for fifteen years, before moving to Bank Street in the nearby town of Clayton in 1893. The club had entered the Football League the previous year and began to sever its links with the rail depot, becoming an independent company, appointing a club secretary and dropping the "L&YR" from their name to become simply Newton Heath F.C.. Not long afterwards, in 1902, the club neared bankruptcy, with debts of over £2500. At one point, their Bank Street ground was even closed by the bailiffs.

Just before having to be shut down for good, the club received a sizeable investment from J. H. Davies, the managing director of Manchester Breweries.. Legend goes that Harry Stafford, the club captain, was showing off his prized St. Bernard dog at a club fund-raiser, when Davies approached him to buy the dog. Stafford declined, but was able to persuade Davies to invest in the club and become club chairman. It was decided at one of the early board meetings that the club required a change of name to reflect the fresh start they had been afforded. Manchester Central and Manchester Celtic were among the names suggested, before Louis Rocca, a young immigrant from Italy, said "Gentlemen, why don't we call ourselves Manchester United?" The name stuck, and Manchester United officially came into existence on 26 April 1902. Davies also decided it would be appropriate to change the club's colours, abandoning the green and gold halves of Newton Heath, and picking red and white to be the colours of Manchester United.

Ernest Mangnall was appointed as club secretary after James West had resigned as manager on 28 September 1902. Mangnall was charged with trying to get the club into the First Division, and fell just short of that target at the first attempt, finishing in 5th in Division Two. Mangnall decided that it was necessary to bring in some fresh faces to the club, and signed players such as Harry Moger in goal, Dick Duckworth at half-back and John Picken up front, but it was another new half-back by the name of Charlie Roberts who made the biggest impact. He cost the club a then-record £750 from Grimsby Town in April 1904, and helped them to a third place finish in the 1903–04 season, just a point short of the second promotion place.

It was not long, however, before the club was at last promoted to the First Division for the first time under their new name, finishing in second place in the 1905–06 Second Division. A season of consolidation followed, with the club finishing in 8th, before they finally won their first league title in 1908. Manchester City had recently been under investigation for paying some of their players a salary over the amount allowed by FA regulations. They were fined £250 and eighteen of their players were banned from playing for them ever again. United were quick to pounce on the situation, picking up Billy Meredith (the Welsh Wizard) and Sandy Turnbull, amongst others. The new boys from across town were ineligible to play until New Year's Day 1907, due to their suspension, so it was left until the 1907–08 season for them to make a proper impact on United's bid for the title. And that they did, getting the campaign off to a storming start, with a 2–1 victory over Sheffield United, beginning a run of ten consecutive victories. Despite a shaky end to the season, United managed to hang on and finished the season nine points ahead of their closest rivals, Aston Villa.

The following season began with United picking up another piece of silverware, the first ever Charity Shield, and ended with another, the club's first FA Cup title, sowing the seeds for what has become a record number of FA Cup titles. Just as they were in the club's first title-winning campaign, Turnbull and Meredith were instrumental in this season, Turnbull scoring the winner in the FA Cup Final. The club had to wait another two years before winning any more silverware, winning the First Division for the second time in the 1910–11 season. In the meantime, United moved to their new ground at Old Trafford. They played their first game there on 19 February 1910 against Liverpool, but lost 4–3 having thrown away a 3–0 lead. They then went trophyless again in the 1911–12 season, which not only proved to be the last with Mangnall in charge (he moved to Manchester City after ten years with United), but also the last time the club won the First Division for 41 years, the longest time they have gone without winning the league in their history.

For the next ten years, the club went into a state of gradual decline before being relegated back down to Division Two in 1922. They were promoted again in 1925, but struggled to get into the top half of the table, and were relegated again in 1931. In the eight years leading up to the Second World War, the club became somewhat of a yo-yo club, reaching their all-time lowest position of 20th in Division Two in 1934. They were promoted and relegated once again before being promoted in the penultimate season before the Second World War. They guaranteed their place in the top flight for after the war by finishing in 14th in the 1938–39 season.

The Busby years (1945–1969)

1945 saw the appointment of Matt Busby to the manager's post at Old Trafford. He took an uncommon approach to his job, insisting that he be allowed to pick his own team, choose which players to sign and direct the team's training sessions himself. He had already missed out on the manager's job at his former club, Liverpool F.C., because the club saw those tasks as jobs for the directors, but United decided to take a chance on Busby's innovative ideas. Busby's first signing was not a player, but a new assistant manager by the name of Jimmy Murphy. The risk the club had taken in appointing Busby paid immediate dividends, with the club finishing second in the league in 1947, 1948 and 1949 and winning the FA Cup in 1948, thanks in part to the locally-born trio of Stan Pearson, Jack Rowley and Charlie Mitten (Rowley and Pearson both scored in the 1948 Cup Final), as well as the centre-half from the North-East, Allenby Chilton.

Charlie Mitten had fled to Colombia in search of a better salary, but the remainder of United's old heads managed to win the First Division title back in 1952. Busby knew, however, that football teams required more than just experience in the side, and so he adopted a policy of bringing in players from the youth team whenever possible. At first, the young players such as Roger Byrne, Bill Foulkes, Mark Jones and Dennis Viollet, took time to bed themselves into the side, sliding to a low of 8th place in 1953, but the team won the league again in 1956 with an average age of only 22, scoring 103 goals in the process. The youth policy set in motion by Busby has now become a hallmark of the most successful periods in the club's history (the mid-1950s, mid-to-late-1960s and 1990s). Busby's original "crop" of youth players was referred to as the Busby Babes, the jewel in the crown of which was a wing-half named Duncan Edwards. The boy from Dudley in the West Midlands made his United début at the age of just 16 back in 1953. It was said that Edwards could play at any position on the field, and many who saw him play said that he was the greatest player ever. The following season, 1956–57, 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, at the behest of the FA, who had denied Chelsea the same opportunity the previous season, and reached the semi-final, only to be knocked out by Real Madrid. En route to the semi-final, United also recorded a win that still stands as their biggest win in all competitions, beating Belgian champions Anderlecht 10–0 at Maine Road.

A plaque at Old Trafford in honour of the players who died in the Munich Air Disaster.
A plaque at Old Trafford in honour of the players who died in the Munich Air Disaster.

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, Germany. The Munich air disaster of 6 February 1958 claimed the lives of eight players - Geoff Bent, Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Duncan Edwards, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Tommy Taylor and Liam "Billy" Whelan - and another fifteen passengers, including United staff members Walter Crickmer, Bert Whalley and Tom Curry. There had already been two attempted take-offs before the fatal third, which was caused by a build-up of slush at the end of the runway slowing the plane down to a speed insufficient for take-off. The plane skidded off the end of the runway, through a fence and into an unoccupied house. United goalkeeper Harry Gregg managed to maintain consciousness after the crash, and through fear of the plane exploding at any second, he grabbed both Bobby Charlton — who had made his United début less than 18 months earlier — and Dennis Viollet by their waistbands and dragged them to safety. Seven United players died at the scene, while Duncan Edwards died a fortnight later in hospital. Right-winger Johnny Berry also survived the accident, but injuries sustained in the accident brought his football career to a premature end. Matt Busby was not given much hope of survival by the Munich doctors, and was even given the Last Rites at one point, but recovered miraculously and was finally let out of hospital after having spent over two months there.

There were rumours of the club folding and withdrawing from competitions, but with Jimmy Murphy taking over as manager while Busby recovered from his injuries, the club continued playing with a makeshift side. Despite the accident, they reached the FA Cup final again, where they lost to Bolton Wanderers. At the end of the season, UEFA offered the FA the opportunity to submit both United and the eventual champions, Wolverhampton Wanderers, for the 1958–59 European Cup as a tribute to the victims, but the FA declined. United managed to push Wolves right to the wire the following season, finishing in a creditable 2nd place; not bad for a team that had lost nine first-team players to the Munich air disaster.

Busby rebuilt the team throughout the early 1960s, signing players such as Denis Law and Pat Crerand, all the while nurturing his new generation of youngsters. Perhaps the most famous of this new batch was a young man from Belfast named George Best. Best had a natural athleticism rarely seen, but his most valuable asset was his close control of a football. His quick feet allowed him to pass through almost any gap in the opposition defence, no matter how small. The team won the FA Cup in 1963, albeit finishing in 19th place in the First Division. The FA Cup triumph seemed to reinvigorate the players, who helped the club to 2nd place in 1964, and then went one better by winning the league in 1965 and 1967. United won the European Cup in 1968, beating Eusébio's SL Benfica 4–1 in the final, becoming the first English club to win the competition. This United team was notable for containing three European Footballers of the Year: Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and George Best. Matt Busby resigned as manager in 1969 and was replaced by the reserve-team coach and former United player, Wilf McGuinness.


United struggled to replace Busby, and the team struggled under Wilf McGuinness in the 1969–70 season, finishing a disappointing 8th, and following a poor start to the 1970–71 season, McGuinness was demoted back to the position of reserve team coach. Busby was coaxed back to the club, albeit only for six months. Results got better with Busby's guidance, but he finally left the club for the last time in the summer of 1971. In the meantime, United had lost a number of high-profile players such as Nobby Stiles and Pat Crerand.

Despite approaching Celtic's European Cup-winning manager, Jock Stein, for the manager's job — Stein had agreed a verbal contract to join United, but pulled out at the last minute — Frank O'Farrell was appointed as Busby's successor. However, like McGuinness, O'Farrell only lasted less than 18 months, the only difference between the two being that O'Farrell reacted to the team's poor form by bringing in some fresh talent, most specifically Martin Buchan from Aberdeen for £125,000. 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, by which time the golden trio of Best, Law and Charlton had left the club. Denis Law had moved to Manchester City in the summer of 1973, and ended up scoring the goal that many people say relegated United, and politely refused to celebrate the goal with his team mates. Players like Lou Macari, Stewart Houston and Brian Greenhoff were brought in to replace Best, Law and Charlton, but none could live up to the stature of the three that came before.

The team won promotion at the first attempt, with a young Steve Coppell making his début towards the end of that season, having joined from Tranmere Rovers, and reached the FA Cup final in 1976, but were beaten by Southampton. They reached the final again in 1977, beating Liverpool 2–1. 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. Major signings under Sexton included Joe Jordan, Gordon McQueen, Gary Bailey and Ray Wilkins, but Sexton's defensive United failed to break out of mid-table obscurity, only once finishing in the top two, and only reached the FA Cup final once, losing to Arsenal. Because of this lack of trophies, Sexton was sacked in 1981, even though he won his last seven games in charge.

He was replaced by the flamboyant Ron Atkinson, whose extrovert attitude was reflected in the clubs he managed. He immediately broke the British record transfer fee to sign Bryan Robson from his old club, West Brom. Robson would come to be touted in the future as United's best midfield player since Duncan Edwards. Atkinson's team featured new signings such as Jesper Olsen, Paul McGrath and Gordon Strachan playing alongside former youth-team players Norman Whiteside and Mark Hughes. United won the FA Cup twice in three years, 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 by the beginning of November 1986, Atkinson was sacked.

Alex Ferguson era, pre-Treble (1986–1998)

Alex Ferguson
Alex Ferguson

Alex Ferguson arrived from Aberdeen to replace 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 throughout the next two seasons, with many of Ferguson's signings not reaching the expectations of the fans. Alex Ferguson was reportedly on the verge of being sacked at the beginning of 1990 but a Mark Robins goal gave United a narrow 1–0 win in the third round of the FA Cup over Nottingham Forest. This kept the season alive, and the team went on to win the competition, beating Crystal Palace in a replay in the final.

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 as a late season slump saw them miss out on the league to rivals Leeds United. Meanwhile in 1991, the club floated on the London Stock Exchange with a valuation of £47 million, bringing its finances into the public eye.

The arrival of Eric Cantona in November 1992 provided the crucial spark for United, and blending with the best of trusted talent in Gary Pallister, Denis Irwin and Paul Ince, as well as budding stars like Ryan Giggs, 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, aided by the capture of Roy Keane, a determined midfielder from Nottingham Forest, who would go on to become the team captain. In the same year, however, the club was plunged into mourning following the death of legendary manager and club president Sir Matt Busby, who died on 20 January 1994.

In 1994–95, Cantona received an eight month suspension for jumping into the crowd and assaulting Crystal Palace supporter Matthew Simmons, who had given Cantona racial abuse as he left the field, in United's game at Selhurst Park. 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, including David Beckham, Gary Neville, Phil Neville and Paul Scholes. The new players, several of whom quickly became regular internationals for England, did surprisingly well and United won the double again in 1995–96. This was the first time any English club had won the double twice, and the feat was nicknamed the "Double Double".

They won the league in 1996–97, and Eric Cantona announced his retirement from football at the age of 30. They started the following season ( 1997–98) well, but they finished in second place, behind the double-winning champions Arsenal.

The Treble (1998–99)

Image:Display in the Manchester United Museum.jpg
Manchester United's European Cup-winning squad in a display at the Manchester United Museum

The 1998–99 season for Manchester United was the most successful season in English club football history as they became the first and only English team to win The Treble — winning the Premiership, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League in the same season. After a very tense Premier League season, Manchester United won the title on the final day beating Tottenham Hotspur 2–1, whilst Arsenal won 1–0 against Aston Villa. Winning the Premiership was the first part of the Treble in place, the one part that manager Alex Ferguson described as the hardest. In the FA Cup Final United faced Newcastle United and won 2–0 with goals from Teddy Sheringham and Paul Scholes. In the final match of that season, the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final they defeated Bayern Munich in what is considered one of the greatest comebacks ever witnessed, losing going into injury time and scoring twice to win 2–1. Ferguson was subsequently knighted for his services to football. Rounding out that record breaking year, Manchester United also won the Intercontinental Cup after beating Palmeiras 1–0 in Tokyo.

After the Treble (1999–present)

United won the league in 2000 and 2001 but the press saw these seasons as failures as they failed to regain the European Cup. In 2000, Manchester United became one of 14 founder members of the G-14 group of leading European football clubs. Ferguson adopted more defensive tactics to make United harder to beat in Europe but it was not a success and United finished the 2001–02 Premiership season in third place. They regained the league the following season ( 2002–03) and started the following season well, but their form dropped significantly when Rio Ferdinand received a controversial eight month suspension for missing a drugs test. They did win the 2004 FA Cup, however, knocking out Arsenal ( that season's eventual champions) on their way to the final in which they beat Millwall.

The 2004–05 season was characterised by a failure to score goals, mainly due to the injury of striker Ruud van Nistelrooy and United finished the season trophyless and in third place in the league. This time, even the FA Cup eluded them as Arsenal beat United on penalties after a goalless draw after 120 minutes. 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 midfielder Roy Keane leaving the club to join Celtic after publicly criticising several of his team-mates, and the club failed to qualify for the knock-out phase of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in over a decade after losing to Portuguese team Benfica. Their season was also dealt cruel blows with injuries to key players such as Gabriel Heinze, Alan Smith, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes. However, they were prevented from being left empty-handed in successive seasons – a disappointment not endured in the last 17 years – by winning the 2006 League Cup, beating newly-promoted neighbours Wigan Athletic in the final 4–0. United also ensured a second-place finish and automatic Champions League qualification on the final day of the season by defeating Charlton Athletic 4–0. At the end of the 2005–06 season, one of United's key strikers, Ruud van Nistelrooy, left the club to join Real Madrid, due to a row with Alex Ferguson.

The 2006–07 season saw United return to the attacking style of football that was the cornerstone of their years of success in the late 1990s, scoring almost 20 more goals in 32 matches than second placed side Chelsea. In January 2007, United signed Henrik Larsson on a two-month loan from Swedish side Helsingborgs, and the striker played an important role in advancing United to the semi-finals of the Champions' League, with hopes for a second Treble; however, upon reaching the semi-finals, United lost to A.C. Milan 3–5 on aggregate.

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Manchester United's entry into European competition, as well as the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, Manchester United played Marcello Lippi's European XI at Old Trafford on 13 March 2007. United won the game 4–3.

Four years after their last title, United claimed back the Premier League title on 6 May 2007, after Chelsea drew away with Arsenal, leaving the Blues seven points behind with two games to go, following United's 1–0 victory in the Manchester derby the previous day, making it their ninth Premiership title in the 15 seasons of its existence. However, an unprecedented fourth Double was not to be, as Chelsea beat United 1–0 in extra time in the first FA Cup Final to be held at the new Wembley Stadium; the first to be held in England since the old stadium was demolished seven years earlier.

The Malcolm Glazer takeover

On 12 May 2005, American businessman Malcolm Glazer acquired a controlling interest in the club through his investment vehicle Red Football Ltd. in a takeover valuing the club at approximately £800 million (approx. $1.5 billion). On 16 May, he increased his share to the 75% necessary to de-list the club from the Stock Exchange, making it private again, and announced his intention to do so within 20 days. On 8 June he appointed his sons to the Manchester United board as non-executive directors.

In July 2006, the club announced a refinancing package. The total amount will be £660 million, on which interest payments will be £62 million a year. This result of this new financing plan will be a 30% reduction of annual payments.

Club crest and colours

During its days as Newton Heath, the club's home jerseys were yellow and green; this strip was revived as an away kit in the early 1990s. In 1902, in conjunction with the name change to Manchester United, the club changed their colours to red jerseys, white shorts and black socks, which has become the standard for most Man Utd home kits ever since. The most notable exception to this is the shirt that the team wore in the 1909 FA Cup Final against Bristol City, which was white with a thin red V-neck. This design was resurrected in the 1920s before United reverted back to the all-red shirts.

Away strips are usually white jerseys with black shorts and white socks, but other colours have been used, including a blue and white striped shirt used on-and-off from 1903 to 1916, an all-black kit in 1994 and 2003 and a navy blue shirt with silver horizontal pinstripes in 2000. One of the most famous, yet short-lived, United away kits, though, was the all grey kit from 1995–96. This kit was dropped after Manchester United failed to win a single game while wearing it. At half-time during a game against Southampton, when United were already 3–0 down, they switched to their blue and white third kit, but eventually lost 3–1. According to the players, the grey kit was not visible enough which led to the poor results. Another famous Man Utd away kit included a reversible shirt that was white with black sleeves and gold trim on one side, and gold with black trim on the other side. This shirt was released as the last kit created by Umbro for the club before the change to Nike, and commemorated 100 years since the club had changed its name from Newton Heath to Manchester United.

The United third kit is traditionally all-blue in homage to the kit that the 1968 European Cup was won in. Exceptions to this rule have included a bright yellow kit worn in the early 1970s, the aforementioned blue and white striped shirt from 1996, which proved to be a firm favourite with the fans, and a white shirt with black and red horizontal pinstripes from 2004. United have also used what were originally used as training shirts as their third kit in the past, having adopted an all-black kit in the 1998–99 season and a dark blue shirt with maroon sides in 2001 for games against Southampton and PSV Eindhoven.

Currently, Manchester United's home jerseys are red with a vertical, white broken stripe with black trim on the reverse. The stripe is adorned with the letters MUFC at the top of the bottom portion, and a silhouette of the devil from the club badge at the top of the top portion. The AIG and Nike logos are also white. A patch with the words "The Red Devils" written in white, over an image of the club badge's devil, is attached to the bottom-left of the shirt. The club crest sits on a red kiss-cut shield on the left breast. The away jerseys are similar in template to the home shirt, but are black. The crest sits in a black shield, also on the left breast. There is a red-coloured piping running from the neck to the armpit and the AIG and Nike logos are white. The shirt also features the broken stripe on the reverse.

The Manchester United crest has been altered on a few occasions, but the basic form remains similar. The badge is derived from the crest of the city of Manchester. The devil on the club badge stems from the club's nickname "The Red Devils", which was adopted in the early 1960s after Matt Busby heard it in reference to the red-shirted Salford rugby league side. By the end of the 1960s, the devil had started to be included on club programmes and scarves, before it was finally incorporated into the club badge in 1970, holding its unmistakable trident. In 1998, the badge was once again redesigned, this time removing the words "Football Club". This move was met with opposition from some supporters, who viewed it as a move away from the club's footballing roots and more into the business side of the game.


First-team squad

As of 21 March 2008, according to combined sources on the official website.

No. Position Player
1 Flag of the Netherlands GK Edwin van der Sar
2 Flag of England DF Gary Neville ( captain)
3 Flag of France DF Patrice Evra
4 Flag of England MF Owen Hargreaves
5 Flag of England DF Rio Ferdinand
6 Flag of England DF Wes Brown
7 Flag of Portugal MF Cristiano Ronaldo
8 Flag of Brazil MF Anderson
9 Flag of France FW Louis Saha
10 Flag of England FW Wayne Rooney
11 Flag of Wales MF Ryan Giggs ( vice-captain)
12 Flag of England GK Ben Foster
13 Flag of South Korea MF Park Ji-Sung
15 Flag of Serbia DF Nemanja Vidić
No. Position Player
16 Flag of England MF Michael Carrick
17 Flag of Portugal MF Nani
18 Flag of England MF Paul Scholes
19 Flag of Spain DF Gerard Piqué
21 Flag of the People's Republic of China FW Dong Fangzhuo
22 Flag of Ireland DF John O'Shea
24 Flag of Scotland MF Darren Fletcher
27 Flag of France DF Mikaël Silvestre
29 Flag of Poland GK Tomasz Kuszczak
32 Flag of Argentina FW Carlos Tévez
33 Flag of England MF Chris Eagles
38 Flag of England GK Tom Heaton
47 Flag of England FW Danny Welbeck

On loan

No. Position Player
23 Flag of Northern Ireland DF Jonny Evans (at Sunderland until 30 June 2008)
25 Flag of England MF Danny Simpson (at Ipswich Town until 30 June 2008)
–– Flag of Angola FW Manucho (at Panathinaikos until 30 June 2008)

Reserves and academy

Former players

Club captains

Dates Name Notes
1878–1896 Unknown
1896–1903 Flag of England Harry Stafford Captain of Newton Heath and first captain of Manchester United
1903–1904 Unknown
1904–1907 Flag of Scotland Jack Peddie
1907–1913 Flag of England Charlie Roberts
1913–1919 Flag of England George Stacey
1919–1922 Flag of England George Hunter
1922–1928 Flag of England Frank Barson
1928–1932 Flag of England Jack Wilson
1932–1936 Flag of England Hugh McLenahan
1936–1939 Flag of Scotland Jimmy Brown
1939–1946 None No football was played during the Second World War
1946–1953 Flag of Ireland Johnny Carey First post-war captain, and first from outside the United Kingdom
1953–1954 Flag of England Allenby Chilton Made captain for only one season, after Johnny Carey retired
1954–1958 Flag of England Roger Byrne Died in the 1958 Munich Air Disaster
1958–1962 Flag of England Bill Foulkes
1962-1967 Flag of Ireland Noel Cantwell
1967–1973 Flag of England Bobby Charlton
1973–1979 Flag of Scotland Martin Buchan
1979–1982 Flag of Northern Ireland Sammy McIlroy
1982–1994 Flag of England Bryan Robson Longest-serving captain in United's history
1994–1996 Flag of England Steve Bruce
1996–1997 Flag of France Eric Cantona First United captain from outside the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland
1997–2005 Flag of Ireland Roy Keane Won more trophies than any other United captain
2005–present Flag of England Gary Neville First club captain to be born in Greater Manchester since Roger Byrne

Player records

As of match played 23 March 2008 and according to the official statistics website. Players in bold are still currently playing for Manchester United.

Most appearances

# Name Career Appearances Goals
1 Flag of England Sir Bobby Charlton 1956 – 1973 759 249
2 Flag of Wales Ryan Giggs 1991 – present 748 143
3 Flag of England Bill Foulkes 1952 – 1970 688 9
4 Flag of England Paul Scholes 1994 – present 560 138
5 Flag of England Gary Neville 1992 – present 540 7
6 Flag of England Alex Stepney 1966 – 1978 539 2
7 Flag of Ireland Tony Dunne 1960 – 1973 535 2
8 Flag of Ireland Denis Irwin 1990 – 2002 529 33
9 Flag of England Joe Spence 1919 – 1933 510 168
10 Flag of Scotland Arthur Albiston 1974 – 1988 485 7

Most goals

# Name Career Appearances Goals Goals/Game
1 Flag of England Sir Bobby Charlton 1956 – 1973 759 249 0.328
2 Flag of Scotland Denis Law 1962 – 1973 404 237 0.587
3 Flag of England Jack Rowley 1937 – 1955 424 211 0.498
4= Flag of England Dennis Viollet 1953 – 1962 293 179 0.611
4= Flag of Northern Ireland George Best 1963 – 1974 470 179 0.381
6 Flag of England Joe Spence 1919 – 1933 510 168 0.329
7 Flag of Wales Mark Hughes 1983 – 1986
1988 – 1995
467 163 0.349
8 Flag of the Netherlands Ruud van Nistelrooy 2001 – 2006 219 150 0.685
9 Flag of England Stan Pearson 1937 – 1954 343 148 0.431
10 Flag of Scotland David Herd 1961 – 1968 265 145 0.547

European Footballers of the Year (Ballon d'Or)

The following players have won the European Footballer of the Year award (Ballon d'Or) whilst playing for Manchester United:

  • Flag of Scotland Denis Law — 1964
  • Flag of England Bobby Charlton — 1966
  • Flag of Northern Ireland George Best — 1968

Ladies team

Manchester United Ladies FC was founded in 1977, and officially became a part of Manchester United FC at the start of the 2001–02 season. They played in the Northern Combination league (the third tier of women's football in England) until they were controversially disbanded before the start of the 2004–05 season for financial reasons. The decision was met with considerable criticism given the huge profits made by Manchester United and also due to the fact that the teams were withdrawn from all their leagues before the players were even informed of the decision.

Club officials

  • Owner: Malcolm Glazer
  • Honorary Life President: Martin Edwards

Manchester United Limited

  • Joint Chairmen: Joel Glazer & Avram Glazer
  • Directors: Bryan Glazer, Kevin Glazer, Edward Glazer & Darcie Glazer
  • Chief Executive: David Gill
  • Chief Operating Officer: Michael Bolingbroke
  • Commercial Director: Richard Arnold

Manchester United football club

  • Directors: David Gill, Michael Edelson, Sir Bobby Charlton, Maurice Watkins
  • Club Secretary: Ken Ramsden
  • Assistant Club Secretary: Ken Merrett
  • Global Ambassador: Bryan Robson

Coaching and Medical Staff

  • Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson
  • Assistant Manager: Carlos Queiroz
  • First Team Coach: Mike Phelan
  • Technical Skills Development Coach: René Meulensteen
  • First Team Coach (Strikers): Ole Gunnar Solskjær
  • Goalkeeping Coach: Richard Hartis (Acting)
  • Fitness Coach: Tony Strudwick
  • Strength & Conditioning Coach: Mick Clegg
  • Caretaker Reserve Team Coach: Brian McClair
  • Chief Scout: Jim Lawlor
  • Chief European Scout: Martin Ferguson
  • Director of Youth Academy: Brian McClair
  • Director of Youth Football: Jimmy Ryan
  • Club Doctor: Dr. Steve McNally
  • Assistant Club Doctor: Dr. Tony Gill
  • First Team Physiotherapist: Rob Swire

Managerial history

Dates Name Notes
1878–1892 Unknown
1892–1900 Flag of England A. H. Albut
1900–1903 Flag of England James West
1903–1912 Flag of England J. Ernest Mangnall
1912–1914 Flag of England John Bentley
1914–1922 Flag of England Jack Robson
1922–1926 Flag of England John Chapman
1926–1927 Flag of England Lal Hilditch
1927–1931 Flag of England Herbert Bamlett
1931–1932 Flag of England Walter Crickmer
1932–1937 Flag of Scotland Scott Duncan First manager from outside of England
1937–1945 Flag of England Walter Crickmer
1945–1969 Flag of Scotland Sir Matt Busby First post-Second World War manager and longest serving manager in United's history
1969–1970 Flag of England Wilf McGuinness
1970–1971 Flag of Scotland Sir Matt Busby
1971–1972 Flag of Ireland Frank O'Farrell First manager from outside the United Kingdom
1972–1977 Flag of Scotland Tommy Docherty
1977–1981 Flag of England Dave Sexton
1981–1986 Flag of England Ron Atkinson
1986–present Flag of Scotland Sir Alex Ferguson Most successful manager in terms of trophies


Before the Second World War, few English football supporters travelled to away games because of time, cost, and logistical constraints such as the scarcity of cars amongst the population. As City and United played home matches on alternate Saturdays, many Mancunians would watch United one week and City the next, but after the war, a stronger rivalry developed and it became more common for a supporter to choose to follow one team 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 United for the previous few years. Following the Munich air disaster in 1958, more people began to support United and many started to go to matches. This caused United's support to swell 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.

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) was extremely active in opposing a proposed takeover by Rupert Murdoch in 1998. Another pressure group, Shareholders United Against Murdoch (which became Shareholders United and is now the Manchester United Supporters' Trust) 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 share holder. Many supporters were outraged, and some formed a splinter club called F.C. United of Manchester. Despite the anger of some supporters towards the new owners, attendances have continued to increase.

The atmosphere produced by the fans has, however, been criticised at times. In 2000, the then-club captain, Roy Keane, labelled the Old Trafford crowd the "prawn sandwich brigade", claiming some fans couldn't "spell football, never mind understand it". Alex Ferguson has also made several comments about the crowd, even going as far as claiming the atmosphere on 1 January 2008 was like a "funeral". Afterwards, he commented "I think there have been days like this in the past. It happened some years ago, when we were dominant".


Old Trafford
Theatre of Dreams
Old Trafford after its most recent expansion
Location Sir Matt Busby Way,
Old Trafford,
Greater Manchester,
Broke ground 1909
Opened 1910- 02-19
Owner Manchester United
Operator Manchester United
Construction cost £60m
Architect Archibald Leitch
Manchester United (Premier League)
Old Trafford

When the club was first founded, Newton Heath played their home games on a small field on North Road in Newton Heath, near to where Manchester Piccadilly Station is currently located. However, visiting teams often complained about the state of the pitch, which was "a bog at one end and rocky as a quarry at the other". The changing rooms were also nothing to be proud of, being located ten minutes walk away at the Three Crowns pub on Oldham Road. They were later moved to the Shears Hotel, another pub on Oldham Road, but a change was needed if the club was to continue in the Football League.

The Heathens remained at their North Road ground for fifteen years from 1878 to 1893, a year after entering the Football League, before moving to a new home at Bank Street in nearby Clayton. The new ground was not much better, only a few tufts of grass sticking up through the sandy surface, and clouds of smoke coming down from the factory next door. On one occasion, the Walsall Town Swifts even refused to play, the conditions were so bad. A layer of sand was put down by the groundsman and the visitors were finally persuaded to play, eventually losing 14–0. They protested against the result, citing the poor conditions as the reason for their loss and the match was replayed. The conditions were not much better the second time around, and the Walsall team lost again, although this time they only lost 9–0.

In 1902, the club went close to bankruptcy and the Bank Street ground was closed by bailiffs due to its insolvency. The club was saved at the last minute by captain Harry Stafford, who managed to scrape together enough money to pay for the club's next away game at Bristol City and found a temporary ground at neighbouring Harpurhey for the next home game against Blackpool.

Following investment to get the club back on an even keel, they renamed as Manchester United, though still with a desire for a passable ground. Six weeks before United's first FA Cup title in April 1909, Old Trafford was named as the home of Manchester United, following the purchase of the necessary land for around £60,000. Architect Archibald Leitch was hired by United chairman John Henry Davies, and given a budget of £30,000 for construction. Original plans indicated that the stadium would hold around 100,000, though this was scaled back to 77,000. Despite this, a record attendance of 76,962 was recorded, which is more than even the current stadium officially supports. Construction was carried out by Messrs Brameld and Smith of Manchester. At the opening of the stadium, standing tickets cost sixpence, while the most expensive seats in the grandstand would have set you back five shillings. The inaugural game was played on 19 February 1910 against Liverpool F.C., and resulted in a 4–3 win for the visitors. As it happened, the change of ground could not have come soon enough. Only a few days after the club played their last game at Bank Street, the main stand was blown down in a storm.

Bombing during the Second World War, on 11 March 1941, destroyed much of the stadium, notably the main stand. The central tunnel in the South Stand was all that remained of that quarter of the ground. Though the ground was rebuilt in 1949, it meant that a game had not been played at Old Trafford for nearly 10 years as the team played all their "home" games in that period at Manchester City's ground, Maine Road. Man City charged the club £5000 per year for the use of their stadium, plus a nominal percentage of the gate receipts. United filed a report with the War Damage Commission and received compensation to the value of £22,278 for the reconstruction of the ground.

Subsequent improvements occurred, beginning with the addition of a roof first to the Stretford End and then to the North and East Stands. However, the old-fashioned roof supports obscured the view of many fans, resulting in the upgrading of the roofs to incorporate the cantilevering still seen on the stadium today. The Stretford End was the last stand to receive the upgrade to the cantilevered roof, the work being completed in time for the start of the 1993–94 season.

Floodlights were first installed at the ground in the mid-1950s. Four 180-foot (55 m)-tall pylons were erected, each housing 54 individual floodlights. The whole lighting system cost the club £40,000, and was first used for a match on 25 March 1957. However, the old style floodlights were dismantled in 1987, to be replaced by a new lighting system embedded in the roof of each of the stands, which has survived to this day.

In 1990, following the Hillsborough disaster, a report was issued which demanded all stadia must be all-seater stadia, leading to subsequent renovation, which dropped capacity to around 44,000. However, the club's popularity ensured that further development would occur. In 1995, the North Stand was redeveloped into three tiers, bringing the capacity up to approximately 55,000. This was followed by expansions of first the East and then West Stands to reach a total capacity of 68,000. The most recent expansion was completed in 2006, when the North-East and North-West Quadrants were opened, allowing the current record of 76,098, only 104 short of the stadium's maximum capacity.

It has been estimated that for any further development to be attempted on the stadium, specifically the South Stand which is still only one tier high, development costs would almost equal the £114 million already spent on the stadium in the last fourteen years. This is due to the fact that up to fifty houses would have to be bought out by the club, which would cause a lot of disruption to local residents, and any extension would have to be built over the top of the railway line that runs adjacent to the stadium. Ideally, the expansion would include bringing the South Stand up to at least two tiers and filling in the South-West and South-East quadrants to restore the "bowl" effect of the stadium. Present estimates put the projected capacity of the completed stadium at approximately 96,000, more than the new Wembley Stadium.


On 23 November 2005, Vodafone ended their £36 million, four-year shirt sponsorship deal with Manchester United. On 6 April 2006, chief executive David Gill announced AIG as the new shirt sponsors of Manchester United in a British record shirt sponsorship deal of £56.5 million to be paid over four years (£14.1 million a year). Manchester United now has the most valuable sponsorship deal in the world, due to the renegotiation of the £15 million-a-year deal Juventus had with oil firm Tamoil. The four-year agreement has also been heralded, by extension, as the largest sponsorship deal in British history, eclipsing Chelsea's deal with Samsung.

Companies that Manchester United currently have sponsorship deals with include:

  • AIG — Principal Sponsor
  • Nike — Official Sportswear Partner
  • Audi — Official Car Supplier and Dugout Seat Provider
  • Budweiser — Official Beer
  • Betfred — Official Betting Partner
  • Xfm Manchester — Official Radio Station

The club has only ever had three main shirt sponsors, the longest-running being Sharp Electronics, who sponsored the club from 1982 to 2000, when Vodafone took over in an initial four-year £30 million deal. Similarly, the club has only had four independent kit manufacturers, the first being Admiral. Adidas took over in the mid-1980s, only for local sportswear company Umbro to replace them in 1992. Umbro's sponsorship lasted for ten years, until the club struck a record-breaking £302.9 million deal with Nike. The agreement with Nike will last an initial 13 years, although the American company does have the option to cancel the deal in 2008. Otherwise, the contract will run until at least 2015.


United's number one rival is difficult to determine. Traditionally, the closest rivals have been Liverpool, Manchester City and Leeds, though Arsenal have come into the frame in recent years. Currently, most fans see Liverpool as their biggest rivals, due to the success of both clubs as well as their proximity to each other, while others rate intra-city rivals Manchester City as their biggest rivals. The Liverpool rivalry began during the 1960s when the two clubs were among the strongest in England, and have been competing closely just about every season since. The Manchester City rivalry dates back to the Newton Heath era of the 1890s, and has remained fierce due to both clubs being in the same division for much of their history.

Whilst based in traditional Yorkshire-Lancashire rivalry, the rivalry with Leeds United began during the late 1960s when Leeds emerged as a top side, and continued through the 1970s and 1980s before arguably reaching its apex when Leeds pipped United to the league title in 1992. The rivalry with Arsenal is more recent and based more on battles on the pitch; it has been particularly intense since Arsenal and United have been in direct competition for several trophies since the late-1990s.




  • Premier League (including (Old) First Division) titles: 16
    • 1907–08, 1910–11, 1951–52, 1955–56, 1956–57, 1964–65, 1966–67, 1992–93, 1993–94, 1995–96, 1996–97, 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2000–01, 2002–03, 2006–07
  • (Old) Second Division: 2
    • 1935–36, 1974–75


  • FA Cup: 11
    • 1909, 1948, 1963, 1977, 1983, 1985, 1990, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2004
  • League Cup: 2
    • 1992, 2006
  • FA Charity/Community Shield: 16 (12 outright, 4 shared)
    • 1908, 1911, 1952, 1956, 1957, 1965*, 1967*, 1977*, 1983, 1990*, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2007 (* joint holders)



  • Intercontinental Cup/World Club Championship: 1
    • 1999

The only major honour that Manchester United F.C. has not yet won is the UEFA Cup.

Club records

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