Manchester United are arguably the biggest club in world football, and continue to grow since their formation in 1878. United have won the most top-flight league titles in English football with 20, alongside 12 domestic trophies and three Champions Leagues, making them the most successful English club in football. Their fan base is from everywhere around the world and they are also probably the most well-known club in the game. The Red Devils also became the first ever English team to win a treble of trophies in 1999. They have developed some of the biggest names in the game such as Cristiano Ronaldo, and still have a fantastic squad fit to challenge any team they face up against. Jose Mourinho is the manager of United and has earned the title as the ‘Special One’ after his previous successes at Inter and Chelsea. He has got the Red Devils back challenging for the league title and has done so strongly with his mass spending spree in all departments making United one of the most exciting teams to watch.
The Red Devils were formed originally formed as Newton Health LYR Football Club. They originally started up by playing against other departments and railway companies. United play at the world famous, Old Trafford, since 1910, and is the second biggest stadium in England after Wembley stadium with a capacity of 75,000. The Red Devils first recorded game took place in 1880, and despite the legendary red kits, used to play in green and gold, which represented the colours of the railway. As a founding member of the Football League, by playing in the Football Alliance who merged into the league, the club started the 1892-93 season in the top flight, but were relegated after just two seasons.
Only a few years later, in 1902, the club was served with a winding-up order due to financial difficulties and debts of over £2500 but captain Harry Stafford did all he could to save his beloved team. Stafford found some local businessmen who he persuaded to invest in the club in return for a direct interest in running the club which was when the name was changed and Manchester United was officially born. They were promoted back to the top flight in 1907 and won the title for the first time in 1908, this was the clubs first league title out of a record 20 to date. The following season, United won the Charity Shield and FA Cup, but it wasn’t until 1911 that the club won the league title again. Relegation from the First Division occurred again in 1922 it only took three years for a top flight return to take place.
In between the First and Second World Wars, British businessman James W. Gibson saved Manchester United from bankruptcy by investing £2,000 to take control of the club – an act which is still commemorated today with a plaque in his honour on Sir Matt Busby Way. 1945 marked the end of the Second World War and football could resume as English manager Matt Busby was given his big break and brought in. He instantly demanded exceptional control over player transfers, training sessions and team selection that had never been seen before. People realised he was different straight away. This led to a very successful period in the club’s prized history, started by winning the FA Cup in 1948 and after knocking on the door in the league by finishing second in 1947, ’48 and ’49, United broke through the barrier and won their first title in 41 years at the end of the 1951-52 campaign.
Busby’s young, exciting side managed back-to-back titles in 1955 and ’56, leading to the nickname “the Busby Babes” because of how much faith he was putting into his youth players. Manchester United became the first English outfit to take part in the European Cup the season afterwards, despite the Football League disagreeing with the concept. United performed brilliantly throughout, defeating Anderlecht 10-0 on the way to the semi-finals, their biggest winning margin on record, before losing to old foes Real Madrid.
Disaster struck the following season, the Munich Air Crash – to be precise. On the 6th February 1958, the aircraft carrying “the Busby Babes” on the way home from European Cup quarter-final victory at Red Star Belgrade crashed after a failed take off in Munich. Manchester United players, match officials and journalists were on the flight, and the disaster took the lives of 23, including eight first team players – Tommy Taylor, Eddie Coleman, Geoff Bent, Roger Byrne, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Billy Whelen and most notably one of the most promising youngsters to ever put on the famous red shirt, Duncan Edwards. Several passengers were lucky enough to survive, including manager Matt Busby and star striker Bobby Charlton, while Johnny Berry and Jackie Blanchflower were never to take to the field again.
In the 1960s, United were like a revitalised club after the disaster, producing talent left, right and centre including iconic, club legend, George Best. They won the FA Cup, two division titles in 1965 and 1967, before becoming the first ever English team to win the European Cup in 1968 at Wembley, after beating S.L. Benfica.
The 1970s were a complete contrast to the recent decade, swapping between managers and eventually suffering relegation in the 1973-74 season after losing star players such as Best, Dennis Law and Bobby Charlton. United’s fortunes turned in 1977 when Dave Sexton took charge, adding Ray Wilkins and Gordon McQueen to their ranks. Sexton made way for one of the clubs greatest Gaffers in Ron Atkinson, who won two FA Cups in three years.
1986 led to United appointing arguably the greatest manager in footballing history, although at the time unknown Aberdeen manager, Alex Ferguson. However, he did not start great in Manchester, with a FA Cup triumph in 1990 saving his status at the club, after three disappointing seasons. His fortunes as manager and the club’s performance quickly changed, as throughout the 90s he won two league titles and the FA Cup. Players eventually adapted to the way ‘Fergie’ wanted to play, which is a way to be admired with a philosophy of always playing to win, passing the ball and to show an aggressive and resilient attitude, regardless of the situation.
The 1998-99 campaign alone was arguably the strongest in the club’s history, as Manchester United became the first English club to complete the ‘Treble’. After winning the league on the final day, albeit at Arsenals expense, an FA Cup final victory against Newcastle United quickly followed. But the most historic night in the club’s history happened arrived on May 26th, 1999, as they trailed Bayern Munich 1-0 at Camp Nou going into stoppage time until the man of big moments Sheringham stroked Ferguson’s side level. The momentum was all behind the Reds before the commentator shrieked “and Solskjær has won it” as the Norwegian ‘baby-faced assassin’ prodded the club to UEFA Champions League glory. Shortly after the momentous occasion, Alex Ferguson became Sir Alex Ferguson as he was knighted for his brilliant services to football.
United continued to dominate the Premier League in the 2000s, winning titles in 2001 and 2003. Their most recent Champions League triumph was achieved in 2008, after a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory against league rivals, Chelsea. United boasted quality throughout their ranks such as Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo eventually left the club in 2009 for a then world-record fee of £80m. The Red Devils continued to win trophies, eventually overtaking Liverpool when it comes to silverware as they won their 19th crown in 2010-11.
Sir Alex Fergusons reign ended in triumph, but also with the 2012-13 Premier League title, with former Arsenal striker, Robin Van Persie scoring goals for fun. The Scot chose himself who his successor at United would be, and he believed Everton Manager, David Moyes, would be fit to fill in his boots, signing a six-year contract on July 1st.
However, for once, Sir Alex was wrong as Moyes never lived up to expectations, eventually losing his job less than a year into his six-year deal. Louis van Gaal took over in the summer of 2014 after he managed a strong display from the Netherlands in the World Cup and in his first season in charge spent big on the likes of Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid for around £60m. he would however be a flop at United, despite scoring one of the goals of the season against Leicester City. Van Gaal guided United back to the Champions League places in his first season.
This was the best he could do as the following season, a 5th placed finish wasn’t enough to keep his job after dull United performances and a lack of threat in cup competitions. He was eventually replaced by one of the best managers in football in Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese brought a new lease of life to United, and won the Community Shield, League cup and Europa league, alongside bringing in world class talent in the form of Arsenal forward Alexis Sánchez on a free and Paul Pogba, for a then world record fee of £89m. The following season, Mourinho went big again, signing Everton’s Romelu Lukaku for £75m as well as Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic from Chelsea, who he signed when he was manager at the Bridge. Old Trafford is a sell out for nearly every game they play, showing how big the club is and how their football entertains everyone. Football fans love coming here to see some of the best players ever to grace the field, and will for the foreseeable future.