Manchester United Football Club history
Although Manchester United Football Club only came into being in 1902 after Newton Heath FC went bankrupt the club is recognised as dating back to 1878 when the Newton Heath LYR Cricket & Football Club was formed.
As Newton Heath the club were elected to the first division in 1892. They finished bottom in their first season but retained their station after defeating Small Heath 5-2 in a Test Match play off.
The following season saw the club again finish bottom of the first division and this time they did go down after a 2-0 defeat in the Test Match to Liverpool.
The club had two opportunities to win promotion back to Division One while the Test Match system was still in operation but failed on both occasions and it was not until 1906 that, as Manchester United, they regained a first division place.
Manchester United History: Early Success
In 1908 United stormed to their first league championship, followed this up by winning the inaugral Charity Shield and then won the FA Cup for the first time in 1909, beating Bristol City 1-0 in the final.
After claiming another league title in 1911, however, the club stopped challenging for honours and spent three spells in the second division before the outbreak of World War II. It was only when football started up again after the war that United began their inexorable journey to become the countries, perhaps the worlds, biggest and best known club.
Much of the credit for the clubs rise to international prominence belongs to Matt Busby who took over as manager of United following the war and remained in control for 24 years. Busby produced a succession of stylish sides which have become a benchmark for subsequent Old Trafford teams, not just in terms of success but in how the game is played.
Manchester United History: The Busby Era
Busby’s first trophy as United manager was the 1948 FA Cup which they claimed after a 4-2 win over Blackpool. This game, in which the Red Devils roared back from 2-1 down late in the game, is considered by many experienced analysts as the greatest cup final of them all.
In 1953 United won the league championship and the increasing number of home grown youngsters being introduced into the side led to the team being christened “The Busby Babes.”
This team became without question the finest side in England, winning successive league titles in 1956 and 57, being denied a probable double on the second occasion when an early injury to their goalkeeper was a massive factor in their 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa.
Busby had complete faith in his young charges and the club looked certain to dominate English football for a decade or more with star players like Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Duncan Edwards, Bobby Charlton and Tommy Taylor in their ranks.
Busby, indeed, had his sights set on glory further afield and defied the Football League by taking his side into Europe to compete in the European Cup.
With the team on the verge of perhaps fulfilling all of Busby’s dreams in one go disaster struck the club in February 1958 when a plane crash in Munich as United returned home from a tie in Belgrade decimated their squad. Eight players died in the crash and several others found their careers over. From the rubble United staged an astonishingly rapid recovery.
They made the 1958 FA Cup final on a wave of emotion only to lose to Bolton Wanderers, but within four years Busby had constructed another side capable of challenging for honours.
United reached the FA Cup semi finals in 1962 and would do so again in each of the next four years, winning the trophy in 1963 with a 3-1 victory over Leicester City.
Manchester United History: The 1960′s
Still Busby craved European success. In 1968 he fulfilled his last remaining ambition as United beat Benfica 4-1 to become the first English winners of the European Cup.
Busby had realised his dream just in time, however. As his side began to age and Best began to implode the club suffered a sharp decline which became still more severe when the great man eventually stepped aside.
Under Docherty United reached successive FA Cup finals, losing surprisingly 1-0 to Southampton in 1976 before turning the tables in 1977 with a fine 2-1 win over Liverpool.
The club continued to be a major player in the cup competitions but became increasingly frustrated at lack of success in the league, especially as their major rivals Liverpool were monopolising the first division title during this period.
United won the FA Cup in 1983 and 1985 with victories over Brighton & Hove Albion and Everton but the league continued to prove elusive.
Manchester United History: Beginning of the new Era
Two Mark Hughes goals gave United a splendid Cup Winners Cup success over Barcelona in 1992 but still the league title refused to come back to Old Trafford.
United missed out on capturing the old Division One trophy for the final time in 1992 after a late surrender allowed Leeds United to take the crown but the newly formed Premier League proved much more to their liking.
United won the first Premier League title in 1993 and then carried on winning it with regularity, claiming 8 titles out of 11 up to 2003.
They also won the League Cup in 1992 and the FA Cup in 1994, 96, 99 and 2004, a remarkable run of success.
The pinacle of Ferguson’s reign came in 1999 when the club staged an amazing recovery to beat Bayern Munich 2-1 in the European Cup final. Injury time goals by Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer gave United their second European crown and also completed a unique treble of league, FA Cup and European Cup.
Latterly the clubs domestic dominance has been halted by the millionaires at Stamford Bridge and with concern among United’s huge fan base at the takeover by American tycoon Malcolm Glazer yet to be subdued the next few years in the life of the country’s most charismatic club could well prove to be the most dramatic in Manchester United History.
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