If you asked 100 different Manchester United supporters what their favourite moment in club history is, you might get 100 different answers. The world’s most valuable football brand has such a rich tradition that it makes picking its best moments a daunting task.
Perhaps the only people that have a better memory of these moments than Man Utd supporters themselves are punters that made money off the Red Devils betting at online sportsbooks. When you bet on a match, your interest in it reaches a whole new level and you’re on the edge of your seat for every touch.
Below is our attempt to choose the five best moments for Manchester United that supporters and punters worldwide will always remember.
It had been ten years since eight of the “Busby Babes” , along with a number of supporters and team personnel, had died in the Munich Air Disaster. But in spite of speculation that the club would fold, Man Utd and manager Matt Busby trudged on, slowly rebuilding again into a European title contender. And just 10 years after the disaster, the Red Devils had made it to the European Cup Final.
Played at Wembley against Eusebio’s Benfica, the first half remained scoreless. A 53rd minute Bobby Charlton goal was negated in the 79th by Graça, sending the match to extra time. There, three goals in nine minutes (including one from crash survivor Bobby Charlton) made Man Utd the first English European Cup Champions and told the world that tragedy had been trumped: Manchester United was back.
It’s hard to believe, but Sir Alex Ferguson almost didn’t last long as boss of Manchester United. His first three seasons there, Fergie guided the club to 11th, 2nd, and 11th place finishes. The rumor is that that wasn’t good enough for the board, and if he lost the upcoming FA Cup Final to Crystal Palace, he was going to be sacked.
Thankfully for Man Utd supporters, that didn’t happen. The match was fast-paced and attack-minded from the beginning, eventually ending 3-3 and forcing a replay. Five days later in the second match, Ferguson made a change in goalkeeper (putting Les Sealey in place of Jim Leighton in net). The move paid off, and thanks to a 59th minute goal from Lee Martin, Ferguson won his first of many trophies at Man Utd (and was able to keep his job).
A comeback victory against Spurs on the final matchday of the 1998-99 Premier League season won Man Utd their sixth EPL title in eight years. To win that title, they had to edge out the same Arsenal side they defeated in extra time of the FA Cup semifinals in a replay. That allowed Man Utd to reach the final, where they beat Newcastle 2-0 to earn their third double of the decade.
With supporters already on cloud nine, the club then had an opportunity to send them over the moon. In their way of a treble was Bayern Munich, who carried a 1-0 lead from the sixth minute into injury time of the Champions League Final. In the 91st, Bayern finally succumbed to Man U’s attack, when a fortunate mis-hit from Ryan Giggs allowed Teddy Sheringham to equalise. Two minutes later, Ole Gunnar Solskjær would redirect a Sheringham header into the net in what has become one football’s most iconic moments. Despite looking outmatched most of the game, United had miraculously become the first (and still only) English team to win the Premiership-FA Cup-UCL treble.
Fifty years after the Munich disaster and forty after their first European Cup victory, the 2007-08 Man Utd squad would join the ranks of those teams by defeating Chelsea in the Champions League Final. Supporters that experienced heart trauma during 1999’s dramatic Final found no relief in this one. A feisty first half ended 1-1, a scoreline that would hold until extra time, and eventually, penalties.
Both sides started two-for-two, but Petr Cech’s save on Ronaldo made Man U’s chances look grim. With Chelsea up 4-3, John Terry would slip and miss his would-be title-clinching shot. Man Utd wouldn’t miss again and a van der Sar save on Nicolas Anelka would win United their third European championship.
Nobody wanted to believe it would, but Alex Ferguson’s final day as boss of Manchester United finally came. Weeks after defeating Aston Villa 3-0 for his 13th title at the club, Sir Alex announced that he was going to retire from managing at the end of the season.
It didn’t matter much that the result of that final match ended in a 5-5 draw after Man Utd started out with a 3-0 lead, or that the match was being played at The Hawthorns. The man that brought 13 English titles, five FA Cups, two European Championships, and countless other hardware to United received a standing ovation before and after the match in a moment that was surreal to those that watched from all around the world.
Made in Manchester is available for just £5. It includes 30 articles from the country's best football writers about graduates from the Manchester United academy. Everyone who buys a copy enters a competition to win the new home shirt. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.