Manchester United Football Club is an English football club, based at Old Trafford in Trafford, Greater Manchester, and is one of the most popular football clubs in the world,with over 330 million supporters worldwide almost 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 1938, with the exception of the 1974–75 season. Average attendances at the club have been higher than any other team in English football for all but six seasons since 1964–65.
Manchester United are the reigning English, European, and World Champions having won the 2007–08 Premier League, the 2007–08 UEFA Champions League, and the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup. The club is the second most successful in the history of English football and by far the most successful of recent times, having won 21 major honours since the start of Alex Ferguson's reign as manager in November 1986. In 1968, they became the first English club to win the European Cup, beating Benfica 4–1. They won a second European Cup as part of a Treble in 1999, before winning their third in 2008, 40 years almost to the day after their first. The club also holds 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 ranked as the richest and most valuable club in any sport, with an estimated value of £897 million (€1.333 billion / $1.8 billion) as of September 2008. Manchester United was a founding member of the now defunct G-14 group of Europe's leading football clubs,and its replacement, the European Club Association.
Alex Ferguson has been manager of the club since 6 November 1986, joining from Aberdeen after the sacking of Ron Atkinson.The current club captain is Gary Neville, who succeeded Roy Keane in November 2005.
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 for fifteen years, before moving to Bank Street in the nearby town of Clayton in 1893. The club had entered The Football LeagueNewton Heath F.C.. Not long afterwards, in 1902, the club neared bankruptcy, with debts of over £2,500. At one point, their Bank Street ground was even closed by the bailiffs. 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
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 fifth 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 eighth, 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 Day1907–08 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. 1907, due to their suspension, so it was left until the
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 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.
Alex Ferguson arrived from Aberdeen to replace Atkinson on the very day that Atkinson was sacked, bringing with him his assistant manager, Archie Knox. Although his first match in charge, against Oxford United on 8 November 1986, resulted in a 2–0 defeat, Ferguson guided the club to an 11th place finish in the league. A second place finish in 1987–88, with Brian McClair becoming the first United player since George Best to score twenty league goals in a season, may have given fans a tiny glimpse of the future, but they soon returned to mediocrity with another 11th-place finish in 1989.
Many of Ferguson's signings did not reach the expectations of the fans, and the manager was reportedly on the verge of being sacked at the beginning of 1990, with many believing that defeat to Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup Third Round would seal his fate. A 56th-minute goal from Mark Robins won the match for United and started them on a cup run that would take them all the way to the final at Wembley, where they beat Crystal Palace 1–0 in a replay after a 3–3 draw in the original match. The following year, United reached the final of the League Cup, but lost 1–0 to former manager Ron Atkinson's Sheffield Wednesday team. However, the season was capped by the club's first Cup Winners' Cup title, beating Barcelona 2–1 in the final in Rotterdam. The Cup Winners' Cup triumph allowed the team to play in the 1991 UEFA Super Cup, in which they beat European Cup holders Red Star Belgrade 1–0 at Old Trafford. The match should have been played over two legs, but, due to political unrest in Yugoslavia at the time, UEFA decided that only the Old Trafford leg would be played. A second consecutive League Cup final appearance followed in 1992, with United this time beating Nottingham Forest 1–0 at Wembley.The 1998–99 season for Manchester United was the most successful season in English club football history as they became the 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, going into injury time a goal behind and then 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.
2007–08 saw United successfully complete the European double despite a poor start to the season, finding themselves in 17th place in the Premier League after three matches. However, on 11 May 2008, United retained the Premier League title with a win over Wigan Athletic. With title rivals Chelsea only able to draw with Bolton Wanderers, United finished the season two points clear. The club also reached the European Cup final for the third time in their history, having knocked out such clubs as Barcelona and Roma en-route to the final. They beat Chelsea 6–5 on penalties in the final in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, after a 1–1 draw in normal time on 21 May 2008. With this win, they earned their third European Cup title and kept up their record of never having lost a major European final. Coincidentally, this season marked the 100th year since Manchester United won their first League title, 50 years after the Munich air disaster and 40 years after Manchester United became the first ever English side to win the European Cup. The European Cup final also saw Ryan Giggs make his 759th appearance for the club, overtaking Bobby Charlton as the club's record appearance maker.
Before the start of the 2008–09 season, United competed in and won the 2008 FA Community Shield. United beat 2007-08 FA Cup winners Portsmouth 3-1 on penalties, after the match finished 0–0 after 90 minutes. On 21 December 2008, United added more silverware to their trophy cabinet with a win in the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup Final, defeating the Ecuadorian side LDU Quito 1–0 in Japan, Wayne Rooney scoring the winning goal. Two months later, they added the 2009 League Cup to their trophy cabinet, after defeating Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 on penalties.
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 AIG1968 European Cup Final.The away and third shirts are worn with blue shorts. 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 shield of the same shape on the left breast. The away kit is white with blue piping around the side and back of the neck and down the sides of the body. The trim on the front of the neck is red. The letters "MUFC" are on the back of the collar and the club badge is located on a white shield over the left breast. The third shirt is royal blue, with sponsors' logos in white. Around the club badge, which sits on a blue shield, the words "May 29th 1968 40th Anniversary" are embroidered. Like the away shirt, the letters "MUFC" are on the back of the collar, while the inside of the collar is adorned with the coat of arms of the City of Manchester, in a design inspired by the tickets used for the
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".