There are lots of facts that every fan should know about their beloved Manchester United: They were the first English winners of the European Cup, the first side to win the newly formed Premier League in 1992/93 and currently they hold the record for league titles in the English top flight.
But there are other facts that are far more obscure. How many of these do you already know?
OK so you will probably be aware that Welsh international Giggs holds the record number of appearances in a Manchester United shirt, having played for the club on an incredible 963 occasions across a 23 year career.
But perhaps you may not know that Giggs has also scored the fastest goal in United history, netting after just 15 seconds in a Premier League game against Southampton in 1995.
Manchester United paid Juventus a staggering £89.3 million for the services of former player Paul Pogba in 2016. That was the highest amount paid by a British club but did you know that they have now broken this particular record on 10 separate occasions?
The first player involved was Denis Law, who became the first footballer to command a fee in excess of £100,000 when United paid £110,000 to Torino in 1962. Since then, Gordon McQueen, Bryan Robson, Roy Keane, Andy Cole, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Juan Sebastian Veron, Rio Ferdinand, Angel Di Maria and Pogba have all broken the British record.
That list isn’t just testament to the club’s spending power, it also underlines just how much of an attraction they are with the world’s best players all wanting to line up at Old Trafford.
Little or No Spend…
Although Manchester United have been big spenders for much of their long history, previous transfer records may not seem quite so incredible in the present day.
In January 1900, United paid just £40 to Ashton for the services of Gilbert Godsmark before making Glossop’s Leslie Hofton their first £1,000 player in July 1910.
By 1953, prices had increased to the point where manager Matt Busby was paying £29,999 to Barnsley for Tommy Taylor but from that stage, Busby had decided he had all the men he needed. From 1953 to 1957, he didn’t bring a single new player into the club.
Manchester United were one of the last English clubs to employ a manager from outside of the British Isles and Ireland. They have employed 23 confirmed bosses in their history including one from Wales, 12 from England, one from the Republic of Ireland and seven from Scotland but it wasn’t until 2014 that they went into mainland Europe with the employment of Louis Van Gaal.
Jose Mourinho made it two when he signed up in 2016 so will this be a new trend, or will United revert to a British manager next time around?
Friends and Rivals
In the present day, Manchester City are one of United’s bitter rivals and the reasons for that are obvious. Firstly, they are just across the City and you’re never going to truly get on with your footballing neighbours but in recent years, substantial investment has allowed Manchester City to compete at the very top once again.
But it wasn’t always this way; during the Second World War, Manchester City lent out their old Maine Road ground when Old Trafford suffered extensive bomb damage. In other countries across the world, clubs share stadiums, most notably in Milan, but it seems unlikely that this particular loan deal will ever happen again.
Played for Both
Talking of noisy neighbours; as of 2017, 32 players have featured for both Manchester clubs. The list includes some famous names including Brian Kidd, Carlos Tevez and Peter Schmeichel, but perhaps the most notable of all was Denis Law, who was actually a City player from 1960-61 before joining United. Subsequently, he returned to his former club in 1973.
Kidd also holds the unique distinction among the players on this list of appearing in the Manchester Derby, the Merseyside Derby and the North London Derby.
Two United players have also gone on to manage City – Steve Coppell and Mark Hughes – while legendary United manager Matt Busby was once a City player!
An Unwanted Record?
Manchester United’s relegation to the old second division at the end of the 1973/74 season marked an unhappy period that is probably best forgotten. However, that campaign, as dismal as it was, contains quite an interesting record.
By the Christmas of 1973, United’s joint top scorer with two goals was their keeper! Alex Stepney had been pushed forward to take penalties in the absence of any other, obvious candidates.
What’s In a Name?
We all know Manchester United as the Red Devils but actually, this isn’t a nickname that goes back deep into the club’s history. You wouldn’t want to call yourselves the Reds as so many teams – including rivals Liverpool – adopt that particular one so there was a need to be distinctive.
It’s said that Matt Busby was the first to coin the name Red Devils during his long tenure from 1945 to 1969 and that it was taken from the Salford Rugby League team in the area.
So there you have it: some interesting facts from a long history that go to prove that not only are Manchester United the most successful club in Britain, they are one of the most fascinating ones at the same time.