Manchester United the football club, as well as the brand, is a key figment of English civilisation. Permeating the psyche of even the most ardent football atheists, the club that Sir Alex Ferguson has built rightly sits astride the pantheon of football supremacy.
The club can lay claim to a reported 300 million fans around the world, making them the unofficial most supported club in the world.
From Manchester to China and back again, these individuals who have never met are bound together by their patronage to the Red Devils. A symbol of supremacy, success and history, here’s 10 reasons we, as fans, are proud to worship it.
Manchester United is the most successful club in the history of English football with 19 Premiership titles, after last season’s win helped them usurp Liverpool. In addition, United have won three Champions League titles, a figure that, in English football, is only bettered by Liverpool’s five.
In the Premiership era, however, United’s success has been unparalleled, as they blazed trails, making their mark over the fabric of the game and winning 12 of the 19 contested seasons. Two of the club’s Champions League crowns have also come in this era, with successes in 1999 and 2008.
Manchester United is without a doubt the most stable club in the Premiership era. With a manager who has overseen the club’s growth throughout the period, and a strong, settled nucleus of players, Manchester United have a stable foundation upon which to launch title bid after title bid.
Off the field, the picture hasn’t looked so rosy, however, with the club being over £700 million in debt two years ago. Even that cloud now seems to have a silver lining, though, as the gross debt was reported earlier this month at a still gargantuan £435 million.
Progress is progress, though, and if the astute management of Manchester United continues for the foreseeable future, the financial stability will one day mimic the stability exuded from the playing staff.
From its early days as Newton Heath, in 1878, to its creation as Manchester United, in 1902, and the 109 years that followed, their trials and tribulations have been well documented.
From the darkest days in 1958, when the Munich air crash cruelly ended the lives of half of the team, to the euphoria of 1968, 1999 and 2008, history has shaped the United we see before us today.
Fans today hold dear that history, remember it and salute it, for without it Manchester United would not be here.
The most successful British manager of all time and the totalitarian dictator of the Premiership era, recently celebrated his 25th year as United supremo.
During his tenure, the boss has accrued an unparalleled set of honours, including 12 Premiership crowns, five FA Cups, four League cups, 10 Charity Shields, two Champions Leagues, a World Club cup and a Cup Winners cup.
And to think, that prior to victory over Crystal Palace in an FA Cup replay, Ferguson was reportedly just one game away from losing his job.
England’s largest club ground recently celebrated its 100th year of occupancy, having been built in 1910, to house the recently renamed Manchester United FC.
The famed Stretford end makes the 75,000-capacity stadium one of the most imposing venues in English football, while the Theatre of Dreams, adds to the stadiums aura of grandeur.
Statues of club legends Best, Law and Charlton stand on a plinth outside the ground, surveying their domain, and with a recently commissioned statue of Ferguson set to be completed for the start of the 2012/13 season, Manchester United has a home befitting its team for some years to come.
From George Best and Bobby Charlton, through Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, to Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, Manchester United has rich alumni of world-class talent. As one generation ends, the next is there to pick up the club’s mantle and carry it forward.
One-club men, unfulfilled men and 80 million men, they all made their name within the Theatre of Dreams. As for the next generation—well they are just waiting in the wings.
United’s attacking propensity is almost as recognisable as the red shirt itself. Attacking with width, verve and panache, the indomitable red wave comes and then comes again.
The current squad, built on the bedrock of Nemanja Vidic’s astute defensive-marshalling, provides a perfect foil for the attacking penchants of much of the midfield. Using the ball, and exploiting gaps in the oppositions ragged rear-guard, United, when on form, are hard to match. As Arsenal eighted to find out, back in September.
I think to those Manchester United fans who were alive to see it (I would envisage that most of the ardent supporters are over 11, but you never know), this attitude is encapsulated in one Spanish night back in Spring 1999.
I am, of course talking about the 1999 Champions League final. A final in which Manchester United were trailing 1-0 coming into the last two minutes of normal time, the colours of opposition Bayern Munich were being added to the trophy. It wasn’t United’s night. Or was it?
Where mere mortals would have crumbled United stood, as goals from Teddy Sheringham and the baby-faced assassin spawned a euphoria that to this day has not truly abated.
I can’t watch a YouTube video of that match without the hairs standing up on my neck. And the fact that I was an eight-year-old boy watching at home at t he time says it all really.
Sir Alex Ferguson has an obvious predilection for blooding the club’s surfeit of youthful talent at an early stage.
From his original fledglings to their modern-day counterparts, all have been given the opportunity to impress when still in the infancy of their careers. Many have flourished under such opportunity—Ronaldo, Giggs, Scholes and Rooney for example—while the minority have failed to live up to expectation (Bebe).
With the likes of Ravel Morrison and Paul Pogba the next set of youngsters to make the leap into the first team, the factory line of youthful talent looks as bountiful as ever.
In the tapestry of English footballs rivalries, Manchester United holds two, and possibly three, of the very bitterest. First there is the geographically bound and fairly new rivalry the club holds with the noisy, now annoyingly good, neighbours. And then there is Liverpool, a rivalry that transcends football; a rivalry that is more hatred than benign “rivalry.” Oh, it’s bitter all right.
In the make-up of the EPL, United’s games against Liverpool come to define football rivalries, making Wigan vs Fulham look like an amiable jolly on a Saturday afternoon. Oh, wait.