Manchester United continued into the 1910s much in the same manner in which they had finished the previous decade. More silverware awaited the club at the turn of the decade, but struggles were just around the corner, especially with the chaos going on beyond the realm of football.
Early in this period, United took another step toward becoming more recognizable as what we all know today, moving from Bank Street to Old Trafford on February 19, 1910. Feeling the club had outgrown their Bank Street home, John Henry Davies invested approximately £60,000 in the development of a new ground in 1909, a significant sum of money for that era.
With Old Trafford completed in the early days of 1910, United christened their new home with a fixture against Liverpool in the First Division. Liverpool ultimately spoiled the day, as they won the match, 4-3, but United finally had a ground suitable for their growing stature.
While their new home gave supporters reason to be excited, United could only manage a fifth-place finish in the First Division and failed to defend the FA Cup triumph of the previous season, being knocked out by Burnley in the first round.
The next season, manager Ernest Mangnall would lead his team to victory once again, claiming another First Division title in 1910-11. United secured the league on the final day of the season, finishing just one point ahead of Aston Villa.
The club then went on to win the FA Charity Shield once again, this time beating Swindon Town, 8-4, with Harold Halse scoring six goals. While the season started with silverware, United slumped to a 13th-place finish in the league.
Following a disappointing league campaign, United were soon thrown into disarray when manager Ernest Mangnall left the club in September 1912 to join local rivals Manchester City. His departure would signal the beginning of a long barren spell for the club.
United failed to find a suitable replacement, but still managed to finish fourth in the league for the 1912-13 season, only to plummet again to a 14th-place finish in the 1913-14 season.
United were dealt yet another blow in the 1914-15 season, after three United players—Enoch West, Sandy Turnbull and Arthur Whalley—were found guilty of fixing a match against Liverpool. It is believed that those involved were doing it for financial reasons.
However, with the game fixed in United's favor, the club picked up two crucial points from the 2-0 win over Liverpool that proved vital in avoiding relegation by a solitary point.
All three players involved were given life bans, effectively crippling United. The club finished 18th that season, just above the two relegation spots occupied by Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur. This would prove to be the final competitive season of the decade.
Those familiar with world history will know that the First World War began in July 1914, and with the conflict escalating, the Football League was canceled for the duration of the war. United continued to play in the War Leagues, but these matches were deemed non-competitive and remain unrecognized as official matches by the Football League.
The club did manage one success during this period, finishing first in Lancashire Section Subsidiary Tournament Group D in 1917. Three familiar clubs were involved in that competition, including Manchester City, Stoke and Port Vale.
Some former United players lost their lives during the First World War, the most famous of which was Turnbull. The man who scored the winning goal of the 1909 FA Cup Final was killed in action while serving with the British Army. His life ban was rescinded in 1919 after the war.
Former United players Oscar Linkson and Arthur Beadsworth also never returned from the war. Linkson was missing and presumed dead in 1916, while Beadsworth was killed in action during 1917.
The war finally concluded in November 1918, although the Football League would not resume until the 1919-20 season. War and scandal had torn United apart throughout the course of the decade, and it would be many more decades before the club would fully recover.
From the brand new Old Trafford and a second league title, to match-fixing disgrace and the outbreak of war, United finished the decade far from where they had begun. There would be many more years of struggle and hardship before glory would find its way back to the club.
The man to do it just so happened to be plying his trade as a footballer at Manchester City in the coming decade.
First Division: 1910-11
FA Charity Shield: 1911
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