MANCHESTER UNITED FIRST TEAM SQUAD
01. Edwin van der Sar
02. Gary Neville
03. Patrice Evra
04. Owen Hargreaves
05. Rio Ferdinand
06. Wes Brown
07. Cristiano Ronaldo
09. Dimitar Berbatov
10. Wayne Rooney
11. Ryan Giggs
12. Ben Foster
13. Ji Sung Park
15. Nemanja Vidic
16. Michael Carrick
17. Luis Nani
18. Paul Scholes
22. John O'Shea
24. Darren Fletcher
29. Tomasz Kuszczak
32. Carlos Tevez
34. Rodrigo Possebon
MANCHESTER UNITED - A BRIEF HISTORY
Manchester United were founded in 1878, when a group of railway carriage and wagon workers formed a team in the north-east of Manchester. In those days, the team wore green and yellow coloured shirts, and went by the name of "Newton Heath" (The team officially adopted "Manchester United FC" in 1902). The amateur players at Newton Heath managed to draw as many as two-thousand spectators a game, and competed in the Lancashire and Manchester leagues with limited success.
When the leagues were formed in 1888, Newton Heath were not elected into the top division in England. Instead, they played in the "Football alliance". The team eventually earned entry to the first division but only due to the fact that they were extending the number of teams in the league.
Gaining top flight football didn't help the fortunes of Newton Heath - they simply lost even more games now that they were playing higher class opposition and the team struggled against relegation in the 1890's. Since the introduction of professional football in England in 1885, Newton Heath had been losing money steadily, and by 1902, when they were close to Â£3000 in debt, the creditors moved in.
Luckily for the club, they found a rich benefactor just in time, who saw fit to pay the debts, invest in the team, and help the reformed and renamed "Manchester United" move to a new home. John H Davies overlooked the design and development of Old Trafford as an 80,000 capacity arena, though it was the inspirational Billy Meredith who was the mastermind on the pitch, it was Davies' money that led United to their first honours the league title in 1907, and the FA Cup in 1908.
In 1910, the club moved to Old Trafford, and won the league in their second season at the stadium. Unfortunately, this was to be one of the last honours for several decades, as the club entered a barren spell, and the league was interrupted by the First World War. 1927 was the next significant year for Manchester United: They switched to playing in their famous red shirts permanently, and their benefactor, JH Davies, died. Without Davies' money, and the lack of a decent team, the club became unable to pay the bills, and faced liquidation for a second time in 1931.
This time James Gibson stepped forward with his wallet open. He and club secretary Walter Crinkmer took the club several brave steps forward. Between them they gained Manchester United promotion back to the first division, and set up the first ever youth academy at a league club. Manchester United Junior Athlete Club has since gone on to produce players like Best, Charlton, Beckham, Giggs and Scholes to name but a few of the graduates of the scheme. Perhaps Gibson's best move was getting trains to stop outside Old Trafford on match-days (Previously the fans had to walk miles to the ground).
The Second World War interrupted the development of United. Old Trafford was bombed by the Luftwaffe in 1941, and was not rebuilt until 1949. In the meantime, local rivals Manchester City let United share their stadium. Gibson set about rebuilding the team after the war, but died before he had the chance to see the fruits of his labour when they won the League again in 1951.
When the team of 1952 began to age, new chairman Harold Hardman had a difficult choice to make: He could either spend money to get new players, or he could promote some players from the clubs youth side. Surprisingly, Hardman chose to give youth a chance. It was an inspired decision. The youth players had played together for years and took the first division by storm. Indeed, they could have gained an inaugural League and Cup double in 1957 had their goalkeeper, Ray Wood, not been injured in the FA Cup final. Duncan Edwards was the shining light in a sparkling team which had been dubbed "The Busby Babes" (After manager Matt Busby) due to the teams youthfulness.
The following year, they were again challenging for honours in both the league and cup. They were also in their first ever European Cup. After beating Red Star Belgrade in the quarter finals of the competition, and securing their place in the semi-finals, tragedy struck.
On the way home from Belgrade on February 6th 1958 the plane stopped in Munich for refuelling. On an icy run-way the plane tried and failed to take off twice. On its third attempt, the plane finally went up, but came back down again just a few miles past the end of the run-way, crashing through a house, and bursting into a ball of flames. 23 people died in total, including club captain Roger Byrne and many other players and staff. Some survived the crash but were never able to play football again. Duncan Edwards, who died after fighting for his life in a hospital, was perhaps the most tragic loss. He was arguably the greatest player of his generation, and was destined for greatness for both England and Manchester United. United legend Sir Bobby Charlton, who survived the crash, described Edwards as "The greatest player I ever played with or against".
The whole football world mourned the loss of one of the best teams, and tributes and condolences were sent to Old Trafford from around the globe. Manchester United pulled together to finish the season heroically, with even traditional rivals Liverpool offering United the use of some of their players.
The manager, Matt Busby, who was another survivor of that crash, looked again to youth, and found a squad of able players but not championship winners. He bought a few new names in over the years, and also promoted Bobby Charlton and George Best from the youth team, and, within a decade, United were winning things again.
George Best was able to mesmerise any defence in the world with his ball play, and was named by Pele as one of the greatest players in the history of football. Unfortunately, he also had an ability to drink an astonishing amount of alcohol. He was the first superstar footballer, and introduced a new way of life to the profession, with girls swooning in his arms, designer clothing, and a high media profile. He played his best years at United, but quit at the age of 26, when things got too much for him.
With the triumvirate of Best, Law and Charlton, United were almost invincible. They won various league titles and domestic cups, but, most importantly, the European Cup in 1968. Best scored the winner in extra-time at Wembley as United won 3-1 in their most important game in their 90 year history.
When Matt Busby, who was later knighted, retired in 1968, United were in a promising position. They failed to capitalise on that, as manager after manager came into the club, struggled to get the right results, and got sacked by an over-zealous board desperate for more European glory.
The years rolled by, with United even getting relegated in 1977. In 1986 Alex Ferguson got hired as manager by then-chairman Martin Edwards. Ferguson had a rough start to his Old Trafford career, but was given time to work his magic at building a match-winning team. His team won the FA Cup in 1990, and, 26 years after they had last won it, the League championship in 1993 in its first year as "The FA Premier League".
United have since gone on to win eight of the last eleven League championships a phenomenal record as well as various cup successes. Ferguson built his early teams around the United legends of Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona and goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel. Ferguson was also busy reinvigorating the youth training system, so that, for years to come, United would be a successful club.
Slowly bringing them up to the first team, "Fergie's Fledglings" showed that youthfulness and skill can be more than enough to beat experienced players. The youngsters such as Beckham, Scholes, Giggs, Butt and the Neville brothers fitted seamlessly into the first team, and continued the clubs winning ways in the League. They were also gaining experience in European competition particularly in the European Cup, or, as it was re-branded, the European Champions League.
In 1999, Ferguson's team made it into the final of the Champions League with an enthralling victory over mighty Juventus. They played against German team Bayern Munich in the final. They were a goal down with minutes to go when they received a corner. Ferguson took his chance to substitute two strikers on for defenders in the hope of scoring to take the game to extra-time. Sheringham scored the equaliser as hoped, and then Solskjaer struck to make it 2-1 with only 30 seconds left. Winning the Champions League completed an extraordinary treble, with the Premier League title the FA Cup also being taken by United in 1999.
Ferguson has since over-seen the sale of several prize assets as he looks to introduce yet another generation of youngsters, (including Tim Howard, Cristiano Ronaldo and Eric Djemba-Djemba), into the first team in the hope of building another team capable of lifting the Champions League trophy.
When Peter Kenyon was chosen to lead the revolution at Chelsea, and he accepted, Manchester United were left looking for another business mided individual to take the club even further. David Gill, Kenyon's understudy, fitted the bill, and took the job. Kenyon was lauded by fans because he had always claimed that he was a loyal Man United fan and his support had been so easily bought. Assistant manager Carlos Queiroz was also poached - by Real Madrid.
Without Kenyon and Carlos, United struggled to win a trophy. Kenyon took with him his knowledge of the clubs transfer targets, and Arjen Robben was snatched from under United's noses.
Carlos Queiroz has since returned to the club after a disasterous season with Real, and United have bought wisely - Alan Smith will be yet another superstar in a red shirt, whilst Wayne Rooney arrived for a record-breaking Â£27m.
United's season got off to a bad start, with Rio still suspended for missing his drug-test, and the campaign finally got going in January, with a massive win over Arsenal, only for United to return to their stuttering ways.
The FA Cup Final brought hope of a trophy, but that was ruined by far-from clinical finishing, with United dominating but failing to capitalise. The lucky gunners won on penalties.
2005 was dominated by takeover talks. With United listed on the stock-exchange anyonecould buy a piece of the,. First Magnier and McManus (scum) bought up a 30% share to spite Fergie, then they sold out to American Malcolm Glazer - a man only keen to make money out of the club.
Hopefully United's legacy will continue under their reign.
|Record Attendance||76,962 Wolves v Grimsby T, FA Cup Semi-Final, 25 March 1939 67,603 Man Utd v West Ham, Premiership record, 1 Jan 2001|
|Year Formed||1878 as Newton Heath, 1902 Manchester United|
|Club Nickname||Red Devils|
|Record League Victory||9 - 0 v Ipswich Town, FA Premiership, 4 March 1995|
|Record European Cup Victory||10 - 0 v RSC Anderlecht, European Cup, 26 September 1956|
|Record Defeat||0 - 7 v Blackburn Rovers, Division 1, 10 April 1926
0 - 7 v Aston Villa, Division 1, 27 December, 1930
0 - 7 v Wolverhampton Wanderers, Division 2, 26 December 1931
|Most League Points||(2 for a win) 64, Division 1, 1956-57
(3 for a win) 92, FA Premier League, 1993-94
|Most League Goals in a season||103, Division 1, 1956-57 and 1958-59|
|Most League Appearances||Bobby Charlton, 606, 1956-73|
|Premiership Champions||1992-93, 1993-94, 1995-96, 1996-97, 1998-99, 1999-00, 2000-01, 2002-03, 2006-07, 2007-08|
|Premiership Runners-Up||1994-5, 1997-8, 2001-02, 2004-05, 2005-06|
|League Div 1 Champions||1907-08, 1910-11, 1951-52, 1955,56, 1956-57, 1964-65, 1966-67|
|League Div 1 Runners-Up||1946-47, 1947-48, 1948-49, 1950-51, 1958-59, 1963-64, 1967-68, 1979-80, 1987-88, 1991-92|
|FA Cup Winners:||1909, 1948, 1963, 1977, 1983, 1985, 1990, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2004|
|FA Cup Runners-Up||1957, 1958, 1976, 1979, 1995, 2006|
|League Cup Winners||1992, 2006|
|League Cup Runners-Up||1983, 1991, 1994, 1997|
|European Cup Winners||1967-68, 1998-99, 2007-08|
|European Cup-Winners' Cup Winners:||1990-91|
|European Super Cup Winners||1991|
|Intercontinental Cup Winners||1999|
|World Club Championship Champions||1999|
|League Cup Winners||1992, 2006|