50 Best Moments in Manchester United History

Devil in a New DressSenior Writer IOctober 4, 2011

50 Best Moments in Manchester United History

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    Manchester United are one of the biggest clubs in the world and over the years have put together a rich history.

    From winning the treble in 1999 to knocking Liverpool off their perch at the top of English football, from the arrival of Sir Matt Busby to the arrival of Sir Alex Ferguson, from the Munich air crash to the ascent of the Busby Babes, there are many moments that have captured the public's imagination.

    Here is a look at the 50 biggest moments in Manchester United history.

MUTV Launched, 1998

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    To emphasise their ambition and commercial standing, United created their own television channel, three years before any other English club. Chelsea TV followed in 2001.

DHL Deal, 2011

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    If only to show how profitable they are, Manchester United signed a £40 million training kit sponsorship deal with logistics company DHL.

Ronaldo Joins, 2003

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    Cristiano Ronaldo joined Manchester United for £15 million in 2003, becoming the first Portuguese national to don the United shirt.

    Little did anyone know how good he would go on to become. 

Norman Whiteside's Winner, 1985

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    Showing a liking for the big occasions, Norman Whiteside scored in the FA Cup and League Cup finals of 1983 and played in the 1982 World Cup finals.

    Facing Everton, the league champions, in the 1985 FA Cup Final in a United side down to ten men, he curled a brilliant shot home in extra time to ensure a 1-0 win.

Edwin's Clean Sheets, 2009

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    In the 2008-09 season, Edwin Van der Sar set the world league clean sheet record by not conceding a single goal for 1,311 minutes. 

World's Best, 2008

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    Manchester United defeated Ecuador's Liga de Quito to win the Club World Cup.

    In doing so, they became the best club in the world.

Ryan Gigg's Bare Chest, 1999

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    Manchester United were a man down in extra time of their FA Cup semifinal replay against Arsenal when Ryan Giggs intercepted Patrick Vieira’s pass on the halfway line and swayed around several challenges before blasting the winner and baring his chest. The goal gave United the belief that they could achieve the treble.

Kevin Keegan Plots His Downfall, 1996

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    Sir Alex Ferguson is famed for his 'mind games,' and they worked a treat on his opposite number at Newcastle.

    Newcastle United were 12 points clear at the top of the table as of February, but by the end of the season United had overtaken them and won the title.

Fergie's Jimmy Hill Outburst

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    After television repeatedly highlighted a foul by Eric Cantona in United’s FA Cup victory away to Norwich City, Sir Alex Ferguson showed he had little time for perceived unfair media criticism, accusing the BBC’s football panel of being Liverpool fans and announcing that “Jimmy Hill is a prat."

    Classic Fergie.

Steve Bruce's Header, 1993

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    Manchester United had trailed at home to Sheffield Wednesday until late in the game in the league run-in, but after conjuring up the equaliser, Steve Bruce added the winning goal deep into stoppage time to leave Brian Kidd, the assistant manager, on his knees on the pitch in delight and put United ahead of Aston Villa in the table.

    Three weeks later they wrapped up their first league title in 26 years.

Critics Always Answered

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    Critics and haters alike believed that Manchester United's domination of English football was over and done with due to the emergence of Jose Mourinho and Chelsea.

    Think again they did, for they were wrong. United won a hat-trick of titles from 2007-2009. 

There's Only One United

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    There's only one club in the world where a manager could retain his post for 25 years going, that's Manchester United.

Stock Market Flotation

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    United were not the first football club to take this route, but it helped establish their position as the wealthiest outfit in the country.

BSkyB's Failed Takeover, 1998

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    Media mogul Rupert Murdoch tried to cut a share of the Manchester United cake for himself and seemed to have got his way when the club recommended that shareholders accept BSkyB’s offer. But, after the deal had been referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, the Department of Trade and Industry blocked it.

Prawn Sandwich Eaters, 2000

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    Roy Keane was so offended by criticism from the corporate areas of Old Trafford during a Champions League match against Dynamo Kiev that he dismissed their occupants as prawn sandwich eaters who had little knowledge of the game.

Robins Saves Fergie's Job

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    It was thought that Sir Alex Ferguson was close to the sack, but Mark Robins scored the only goal in the FA Cup third round tie away to Nottingham Forest and United went on to win the manager’s first trophy, buying him time that he put to good use.

Comeback at Anfield, 1988

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    The league table showed United were inferior to Liverpool throughout the 1980s, yet they raised their game when up against their bitter rivals.

    Facing one of the great Liverpool sides, they fell 3-1 behind but, with ten men, recovered to draw 3-3, extending their league record against the Merseysiders to one defeat in 17 games at the time. Gordon Strachan celebrated his equaliser provocatively, pretending to smoke a cigar

Wayne Rooney Purchase, 2004

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    223 games played, 111 goals scored. Legend.

United Raid City, 1906

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    Manchester City were forced to sell a large number of players after being found guilty of making illegal payments, while Billy Meredith also had to leave them for allegedly bribing an Aston Villa player.

    An auction was planned where all clubs could attempt to buy them, but United courted and signed four in advance in secret, including Meredith, angering their rivals. The new players helped United win their first trophies, the league titles of 1908 and 1911 and the FA Cup of 1909.

United Almost Third Rate, 1934

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    Only a last-day win away to Millwall saved United from relegation to the third tier of English football.

    Such was United's lowly status in the 1930s that just 3,900 watched the match against Middlesbrough in 1931.

Old Trafford Expands, 2006

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    An increase in capacity to 76,000 meant the stadium could hold almost 20000 more seats than any other English club.

Relegation, 1974

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    The shock of relegation six years after conquering Europe shook up the club. United manager Tommy Docherty built an exciting team that attracted some of the biggest attendances in the country despite playing in the second tier, and they stormed back to the top flight.

Sir Alex Ferguson's Retirement U-Turn, 2002

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    Sir Alex Ferguson had announced that he would retire at the end of the 2001-2002 season, however the campaign started badly.

    The manager decided he couldn’t get let go, though, and stayed to engineer further league titles.

Eric Cantona and Kung Fu, 1995

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    When a spectator abused Eric Cantona at Selhurst Park in a match against Crystal Palace, the Frenchman launched his feet into the man’s chest—kung-fu style—and was subsequently banned for eight months.

The Collapse of 1992

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    Nerves and a congested fixture list hampered United in their pursuit of their first league title for 25 years. Defeats in late April at home to Nottingham Forest and away to West Ham United and a draw away to Luton Town, all in the space of five days, left Leeds United in the pole position. The failure only added to the enjoyment the very next season when the holy grail was finally reached a year later.

Bryan Robson Joins, 1981

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    Ron Atkinson described Robson as “pure gold” when signing the England midfield player from West Bromwich Albion, and the player justified the praise by helping to ensure that United finished in the top four throughout the manager’s five-year reign.

United Turn on the Style, 1948

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    In what was considered one of the great FA Cup Finals, Manchester United beat Blackpool 4-2 to help create their reputation for stylish football that still remains this day.

Peter Schmeichel, 1991

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    Voted the world's best goalkeeper in 1991 and 1992, Peter Schmeichel was an integral factor in many of United's successes in the early 90s.

Emergence of the Kids, 1992-94

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    Manchester United's inclusion of young players into their squad was criticized at the start, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.

    The 'kids' went on to be the driving force of one of the most potent teams in world football, with Ryan Giggs still plying his trade to much success.

David Beckham's Exit, 2003

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    Angered by David Beckham's apparent failure to mark an opponent when Arsenal scored in their FA Cup win at Old Trafford, Sir Alex Ferguson kicked a boot that flew at David Beckham, scarring his forehead.

    The manager’s frustration at the celebrity circus surrounding the player was well known, and unsurprisingly, Beckham was sold at the end of the season.

Denis Law, 1962

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    The Scotland striker was signed from Italian outfit Torino and later became European Footballer of the Year in 1964.

Old Trafford Hosts Champions League Final, 2003

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    Old Trafford hosted its first major European final, playing host to the 2003 UEFA Champions League Final between AC Milan and Juventus.

Winning the Treble, 1999

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    Perhaps the greatest season in the history of English football, 1999 saw Manchester United win the League title, the Champions League title and the FA Cup.

Roy Keane Joins United, 1993

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    Roy Keane had agreed to join Blackburn Rovers from Nottingham Forest, but Sir Alex Ferguson intervened and the Irishman changed his mind. He became United's driving force in midfield for more than a decade.

Ryan Giggs Swaps Sides, 1988

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    Ryan Giggs played at Manchester City as a child but he was poached by United, who have been repaid with over 15 years of consistent brilliance.

Pioneers in Europe, 1956

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    Manchester United shrugged off the opposition of English football authorities to become European pioneers. They won their first home match 10-0 against Anderlecht.

Minimal Spending but Titles Still Coming, 2009-11

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    Manchester United have not topped the spending charts in the last 3 years, yet the club's success remains constant. The sign of a great club indeed.

Nike Deal, 2002

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    The sportswear giant signed a contract to give United £300million over the next 13 years, cementing their position—at the time—as England’s richest club.

League Title, 1952

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    In the season when the phrase “Busby Babes” was first mentioned, Manchester United won their first league championship under Sir Matt Busby.

Cristiano Ronaldo Becoming World Player of the Year, 2009

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    In a season that broke records and lives long in the memory, Cristiano Ronaldo brought more glory to Old Trafford when he was named the best player in the world.

The Glazers, 2006

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    A club with no debt was plunged deeply into the red via the takeover by Malcolm Glazer and his family. Many United fans were so aghast that they formed their own club, FC United.

    There have been rumors of attempts to buy the club back, but all have failed. The club still remains one of the healthiest in world football, and Sir Alex seems able to get what he wants when he wants it.

George Best's Emergence

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    The mercurial Northern Irishman is widely considered to have been the greatest British player, and his presence helped swell interest in Manchester United during the 1960s.

Bobby Charlton's Debut, 1956

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    Perhaps the most famous English player of all time, Bobby Charlton's presence in the Manchester United team for 17 years helped to make United famous around the world.

Eric Cantona Signs, 1992

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    Sir Alex Ferguson asked Leeds United if he might be allowed to have Eric Cantona and he was granted his wish for just £1 million.

    The French forward inspired four league titles in his five seasons in Manchester and galvanised the club, ending its title drought.

No. 19, 2011

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    Liverpool finally knocked off their perch.

Champions League Winners, 1999

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    United’s first European Cup for 31 years and the first such League-FA Cup-European Cup treble by an English team were achieved through two goals in stoppage time against Bayern Munich in the final.

First European Cup Win, 1968

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    Ten years after the destruction in a plane crash of the United team that had seemed destined to win the European Cup, Sir Matt Busby guided his rebuilt side to glory against Benfica on an emotional night at Wembley.

Sir Alex Ferguson's Appointment, 1986

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    Sir Alex Ferguson became manager and revolutionized the club. He established the best youth system in the world and achieved his stated goal of knocking Liverpool off their perch, making Manchester United the most successful club in England.

Aftermath of Munich Air Crash, 1958

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    After the Munich air-crash, where eight United players were killed when a plane crashed in Munich after a refueling stop on the return from a European Cup tie in Belgrade, the club's response was incredible.

    The club rebuilt from the ashes, and have become one of the greatest football entities.

Sir Matt Busby's Arrival, 1945

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    Manchester United were just another average-sized club when Sir Matt Busby became manager after the end of the World War II and he, more than anyone, was responsible for turning them into one of the best sides in the world, building three great teams and laying down a philosophy of attacking football.