09 September 2008

History of Manchester United FC

Manchester Utd are probably England's most famous club; they were formed in 1878 as Newton Heath and elected to Division 1 in 1892. The pre-war years saw the league championship at Old Trafford twice whilst the FA Cup was won in 1909 but since the second World War, they have been far more successful under two different managers.

The first was Sir Matt Busby who arrived in 1945 and won 5 league championships and 2 FA Cups. Tragedy befell Utd in 1958 when their young team known as the 'Busby Babes' was decimated in an air crash in Munich while returning from a European Cup tie in Belgrade. Busby himself was almost klled in the disaster, and his team, which had looked like dominating English football for years to come, was no more.

However, 10 years later, he led a new team including greats like Bobby Charlton and George Best became the first ever English team to lift the European Cup, beating Benfica 4-1 in the final. Flamboyant managers such as Tommy Docherty and Ron Atkinson followed but none could bring the championship back to Old Trafford.

Scot Alex Ferguson was appointed in 1986 and to begin with, it looked as though he would go the same way as his predecessors. However, the FA Cup win of 1990 heralded the start of good times which were continued with the European Cup Winners Cup success a year later. In 1992, Utd grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory as their late slip-up handed Leeds Utd the title but the advent of the Premier League finally saw them triumph 26 years after their previous title win.

The following season saw Utd better this by winning the double (beating Chelsea 4-0 in the FA Cup final).They were the first club to achieve the 'double double' in 1996 as Ferguson continued to bring trophies galore back to Old Trafford. As if that were not enough, the 98/99 season saw them achieve the unthinkable - the treble of league, FA Cup and European Cup.

That earned Ferguson a knighthood and he followed it up with two more back-to-back league titles. When he announced his plan to retire at the end of the 2002/03 season, it looked like an illustrious era in English football was coming to a close, and the uncertainty about the future contributed to United's worst-ever finish in the Barclaycard Premiership - third. However, by then, Ferguson had changed his mind and was on hand to mastermind their return to the top a year later.

The rise of big-spending Chelsea and the controversial arrival of new owner Malcolm Glazer brought some dark times for fans in the next few years, but back-to-back titles in 2007 and 2008 (plus another Champions League triumph) put United back on top.

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