Are Manchester United the world’s greatest football club?
Manchester United Football Club has grown from comparatively humble beginnings to being one of the most successful football clubs in the world. The club’s fortunes are followed by fans across five continents.
The club was first formed in 1878 by members of the Carriage & Wagon department of the Lancashire & Yorkshire railway depot in the north Manchester suburb of Newton Heath. It was originally known as Newton Heath LYR Football Club, and played in green and gold – the colours of the railway company. In 1902 the club ran into financial difficulties but was rescued by the intervention of a group of local businessmen, who invested in the club and changed its name to Manchester United. This was the point at which the club adopted its trademark home strip of red shirt, white shorts and black socks. Manchester United’s first league victory was in 1908, followed next season by victory in the first ever Charity Shield, and the first of many FA Cup victories at the end of the same season.
Matt Busby took over as manager in 1945, leading the club to FA Cup victory in 1948 and League victory in 1952. Busby’s innovative approach placed great faith in young talent, leading to the media dubbing the young team “the Busby Babes” (the players’ average age was a mere 22). In 1957 Manchester United became the first English team to compete in the European Cup. Although they were defeated by Real Madrid in the semi-final, Manchester United’s 10-0 victory over the Belgian champions Anderlecht earlier in the competition still remains the club’s biggest victory on record.
Tragedy befell the young team the following year. On their way back from a European Cup quarter-final victory over Red Star Belgrade, eight of the players (including star player Duncan Edwards) lost their lives – and Busby himself was seriously injured – in the infamous Munich airport disaster on 6th February 1958. Once recovered, Busby rebuilt the team during the 1960s, recruiting such star players as Denis Law, Alex Stepney, George Best, and Munich survivors Bill Foulkes and Bobby Charlton. This new team won the FA Cup in 1963, followed by League victory in 1965 and 1967. In 1968 Manchester United’s 4-1 victory at Wembley over the Portuguese side Benfica made them the first English side to win the European Cup.
Manchester United impressive list includes the records for the most top-division titles (19), the most Premier League titles (12), the most FA Cup wins (11) and the most appearances at the FA Cup Final (18). Other triumphs include the FA Charity/Community Shield, the Intercontinental Cup, the FIFA Club World Cup, the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and the UEFA Super Cup. To date, the UEFA Europa League is the only major prize which still eludes them.
Manchester United’s official website (http://www.manutd.com) can be read in seven different languages: English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Arabic. This fact alone stands as a fine testament to the club’s world-wide appeal.