Manchester United Football Club is an English football club, based at Old Trafford Football Ground, Manchester. The club is one of the most successful English football clubs, having won the FA Premier League/Football League fifteen times, FA Cup eleven times, the League Cup twice, the European Cup twice and the UEFA Cup Winners Cup once. The club has had the highest average attendance in English football for the majority of the past fifty seasons. In 2005/06, their average attendance was 68,765. 
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. After nearing bankruptcy in 1902, the club was taken over by J.H. Davies who changed its name to Manchester United. United appointed Sir Matt Busby as manager after the Second World War, and his then-unheard-of policy of producing most of the players through the club's youth team brought great success, with the club winning the Football League in 1956 and 1957. This success was halted by the Munich air disaster of 1958, in which eight of the club's players died. It was thought that the club might fold, but instead went on to win the football league in 1965 and 1967, and the European Cup in 1968.
The club did not see success again until the 1990s and early 2000s when Alex Ferguson guided it to eight league championships in eleven years, most recently in the 2002-3 season. In 1999, Manchester United became the only team to win the UEFA Champions League, FA Premier League and the FA Cup in the same season. The club had been run as a Public Limited Company since 1991, and an attempted takeover by Rupert Murdoch had been blocked by the British Government in 1999, but in 2005 Malcolm Glazer completed a hostile takeover of the club which plunged the club into massive debt as his bid was based on borrowing most of the money.
Manchester United Old Trafford Football Stadium
Early years (1878-1945)
The club was formed as Newton Heath (Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway) (Newton Heath (L&YR) for short) by a group of Manchester railway workers in 1878. The name was soon shortened to Newton Heath, and became known locally as 'the Heathens'. They were founder members of the Football Alliance in 1889 and joined the Football League in 1892 when it merged with the Football Alliance.
The earliest known film of Manchester United is the 2–0 victory at Burnley on 6 December 1902, filmed by Mitchell and Kenyon.
The club faced bankruptcy in 1902 and was rescued by J.H. Davies who paid off the club's debts and changed the name to Manchester United, changing the team's colours from gold and green. With their new name, they won the league in 1908 and the FA Cup on April 26, 1909 against Bristol City at Crystal Palace. Then with financial assistance from Davies, United moved from Bank Street to a new stadium at Old Trafford in 1910. They won the Championship for the second time in 1911.
The Busby years (1945-1969)
Matt Busby was appointed manager in 1945 and took a then-unheard of approach to his job, joining the players for training as well as performing administrative tasks. He was immediately successful, with the club finishing second in the league in 1947 and winning the FA Cup in 1948.
He adopted a policy of bringing in players from the youth team whenever possible, and the team won the league in 1956 with an average age of only 22.This youth policy has now become instrumental in the clubs success. The following season, they won the league again and reached the FA Cup final, losing to Aston Villa. They also became the first English team to compete in the European Cup, and reached the semi-final.
Tragedy struck the following season, when the plane carrying the team home from a European Cup match crashed on take off at a refueling stop in Munich. The Munich air disaster of 6 February 1958 claimed the lives of eight players and another fifteen passengers. There was talk of the club folding but, with Jimmy Murphy taking over as manager while Matt Busby recovered from his injuries, the club continued playing with a makeshift side. Despite this, they reached the FA Cup final again, where they lost to Bolton.
Busby rebuilt the team throughout the early 1960s, signing players such as Denis Law and Pat Crerand. The team won the FA Cup in 1963, then won the league in 1965 and 1967 and the European Cup in 1968, the first English Club to do so. This team was notable for containing three European Footballers of the Year: Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and George Best. Busby resigned as manager in 1969 and was replaced by the reserve-team coach and former United player Wilf McGuinness.
The Carling Cup final 2006
United struggled to replace Busby, and the team struggled under Wilf McGuinness and Frank O'Farrell before Tommy Docherty became manager at the end of 1972. Docherty, or 'the Doc', saved United from relegation that season but United were relegated in 1974. The team won promotion at the first attempt and reached the FA Cup final in 1976, but were beaten by Southampton. They reached the final again in 1977, beating Liverpool. In spite of this success, and his popularity with the supporters, Docherty was sacked soon after the final when he was found to have had an affair with the physiotherapist's wife.
Dave Sexton replaced Docherty as manager in the summer of 1977, and made the team play in a more defensive formation. This style was unpopular with supporters, who were used to the attacking football preferred by Docherty and Busby, and after failing to win a trophy Sexton was sacked in 1981, despite winning his last seven games in charge.
He was replaced by the flamboyant Ron Atkinson who immediately broke the British record transfer fee to sign Bryan Robson from West Brom. Atkinson's team featured new signings such as Jesper Olsen and Gordon Strachan playing alongside the former youth-team players Norman Whiteside and Mark Hughes. United won the FA Cup in 1983 and 1985 and were overwhelming favourites to win the league in the 1985-86 season after winning their first ten league games, opening a ten-point gap over their rivals as early as October. The team's form collapsed, however, and United finished the season in fourth place. The poor form continued into the following season, and with United on the edge of the First Division's relegation zone, Atkinson was sacked.
Christiano Ronaldo and Sir Alex
The Alex Ferguson era, pre-Treble (1986-1998)
Alex Ferguson arrived from Aberdeen FC to replace Atkinson and guided the club to an 11th place finish. The following season (1987-88), United finished second, with Brian McClair becoming the first United player since George Best to score twenty league goals in a season.
However, United struggled badly throughout 1989 and were nearly relegated, with many of Ferguson's signings not reaching the expectations of the fans. There was hope that Ferguson would be sacked at the beginning of 1990 but a win in the third round of the FA Cup over Nottingham Forest kept the season alive and United went on to win the competition, beating Crystal Palace on a replay in the final.
United won the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1990-91, beating that season's Spanish champions Barcelona in the final, but the following season was a disappointment for United as a late season slump saw them miss out on the league to rivals Leeds United. Meanwhile in 1991 the club had floated on the London Stock Exchange with a valuation of £18 million, thus bringing its finances into the public eye as never before.
The arrival of Eric Cantona in November 1992 provided the crucial spark for United, and blending with the best of trusted talent in Gary Pallister, Denis Irwin and Paul Ince, as well as budding stars like Ryan Giggs, they finished the 1992-93 season as Champions for the first time since 1967. They won the double (the league and the FA Cup) for the first time the following season, but legendary manager and club president Matt Busby died that year, on 20 January 1994.
In 1994-95, Cantona received an eight month suspension for jumping into the crowd and assaulting Crystal Palace supporter Matthew Simmons, in United's game at Selhurst Park. Drawing their last league match and losing to Everton in the FA Cup final left United as runners-up in both the league and FA Cup. Ferguson then outraged the supporters by selling key players and replacing them with players from the club's youth team, including David Beckham, Gary Neville, Phil Neville and Paul Scholes. The new players, several of whom quickly became regular internationals for England, did surprisingly well and United won the double again in 1995-96 this was the first time any English club had won the double twice.
They won the league in 1997, and Eric Cantona, announced his retirement from football at the age of 30. They started the following season (1997-98) well, but they finished the season in second place, behind the double winning champions Arsenal.
Manchester United team photo
The Treble (1998-99)
1998-99 was when Manchester United had the most successful season in English club football history as they became the first and only English team to win The Treble - UEFA Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup in the same season. In the final match of that season they defeated Bayern Munich in the Champions League Final 2-1, with both goals being scored in injury time by late substitutes Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer respectively. Ferguson was subsequently knighted for his services to football.
After The Treble (1999-present)
United won the league in 2000 and 2001 but the press saw these seasons as failures as they failed to regain the European Cup. Ferguson adopted more defensive tactics to make United harder to beat in Europe but it was not a success and United finished the season in third place in 2002. They regained the league the following season (2002-03) and started the following season well, but their form dropped significantly when Rio Ferdinand received an eight month suspension for missing a drugs test. They did win the 2004 F.A. Cup, however, knocking out Arsenal (that season's eventual champions) on their way to the final in which they beat Millwall.
The 2004-05 season was characterised by a failure to score goals, mainly due to the injury of striker Ruud van Nistelrooy and United finished the season trophyless and in third place in the league. This time, even the "consolation prize" of the F.A. Cup eluded them as Arsenal beat United on penalties after a goalless match. Off the pitch, the main story was the possibility of the club being taken over and at the end of the season, Tampa businessman Malcolm Glazer, [who already owns the American Football team Tampa Bay Buccaneers), acquired a controlling interest in the club. United made a poor start to the 2005-06 season, with midfielder Roy Keane leaving the club to join his boyhood heroes Celtic after publicly criticising several of his teammates, and the club failed to qualify for the knock-out phase of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in over a decade. Their season was also dealt cruel blows with injuries to key players such as Gabriel Heinze, Alan Smith and Paul Scholes. However, they were prevented from being left empty handed in successive seasons - a disappointment not endured in the last 17 years - by winning the 2006 League Cup beating newly promoted Wigan in the final 4-0. United also ensured a second-place finish and automatic Champions League qualification on the final day of the season by defeating Charlton Athletic 4-0.
Manchester United Airbus - Malasia Aitlines
The Malcolm Glazer takeover
On May 13, 2005, businessman Malcolm Glazer acquired a controlling interest in the club through his investment vehicle Red Football Ltd. in a takeover valuing it at approximately £800 million ($1.47 billion). On May 16, he increased his share to the 75% necessary to delist the club from the Stock Exchange, taking it private again, and announced his intention to do so within 20 days. On 7 June he appointed his sons Joel, Avram, and Bryan to the P.L.C. board of Manchester United. With Joel, Avram and Bryan appointed as a non-executive directors. It was for a while expected that Joel would be installed as the new Chairman, however that never happened. At the same time Sir Roy Gardner resigned his position as Chairman of the P.L.C. board, along with non-executive directors Jim O'Neill and Ian Much. Malcolm Glazer also re-appointed Andy Anson as Commercial Director after voting him off the Board at the previous AGM. He also retained Chief Executive David Gill and Finance Director Nick Humby in their current positions in spite of their pre-takeover descriptions of the Glazer's business plan as being "aggressive and unworkable".
On November 23, 2005, Vodafone ended their £36 million, four year shirt sponsorship deal with Manchester United. On April 6, 2006, chief executive David Gill announced American International Group (AIG) as the new shirt sponsors of Manchester United in a British record shirt sponsorship deal of £56.5 million (£14.1 million a year) over four years. Manchester United will have the second largest sponsor in the world behind Italian giants Juventus, who have a £15 million a year sponsorship with Tamoil . The four-year agreement has been heralded as beating the previous highest British sponsorship deal, held by Chelsea FC but may in actuality amount to little more than a loan reduction in view of AIG's interest in the hedge funds that lent the Glazers part of the $1 Billion they borrowed to buy the club.
Manchester United trophies
Manchester United - Teddy Sherringham
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