1990–91 Manchester United F.C. season


1990–91 Manchester United F.C. season
Manchester United
1990–91 season
Chairman England Martin Edwards
Manager Scotland Alex Ferguson
First Division 6th
FA Cup Fifth Round
League Cup Runners-up
Charity Shield Shared
Cup Winners' Cup Winners
Top goalscorer League:
Brian McClair (13)
Steve Bruce (13)
All:
Brian McClair (21)
Mark Hughes (21)
Highest home attendance 47,485 vs Aston Villa (29 December 1990)
Lowest home attendance 29,405 vs Wrexham (23 October 1990)
Average home attendance 40,838
Home colours
Away colours
Third colours

The 1990–91 season was Manchester United's 88th season in the Football League, and their 16th consecutive season in the top division of English football.[1]

After winning the FA Cup the previous year to end a five-year trophy drought, United went on to achieve more success by lifting the European Cup Winners' Cup – their first major trophy since their European Cup triumph 23 years earlier – by beating Barcelona 2–1 in Rotterdam, with Mark Hughes scoring both goals.

Hughes was voted PFA Player of the Year, while promising young winger Lee Sharpe was voted PFA Young Player of the Year. Fellow winger Ryan Giggs, aged 17 and said to be the club's finest young prospect since George Best, signed a professional contract in late November, and soon broke into the first team, making two league appearances and scoring one goal.

United also reached the League Cup final for the second time, but suffered a shock defeat to Sheffield Wednesday (managed by former United boss Ron Atkinson). In the league, United improved upon the previous season's 13th place finish, but erratic form meant they finished sixth and were below neighbours Manchester City for the first time in more than a decade. Their defence of the FA Cup ended in the Fifth Round when they lost 2–1 to Norwich City.

Contents

Pre-season and friendlies

Date Opponents H / A Result

F – A

Scorers Attendance
1 August 1990 Bury A 0 – 0 7,162
3 August 1990 Cork City A 0 – 0 8,000
5 August 1990 Waterford United A 4 – 0 Anderson, Hughes, Robins, Sharpe 4,750
8 August 1990 Derry City A 1 – 1 Robins 9,710
11 August 1990 Irish League XI N 3 – 0 McClair, Hughes, Wallace 10,037
13 August 1990 Bohemians A 3 – 0 Robins (2), Wallace 13,878
15 August 1990 Rangers A 1 – 0 Beardsmore 31,818

FA Charity Shield

Date Opponents H / A Result
F – A
Scorers Attendance
18 August 1990 Liverpool N 1 – 1 Blackmore 66,558

First Division

Date Opponents H / A Result
F – A
Scorers Attendance
25 August 1990 Coventry City H 2 – 0 Bruce, Webb 46,715
28 August 1990 Leeds United A 0 – 0 29,174
1 September 1990 Sunderland A 1 – 2 McClair 26,105
4 September 1990 Luton Town A 1 – 0 Robins 12,576
8 September 1990 Queens Park Rangers H 3 – 1 Robins (2), McClair 43,427
16 September 1990 Liverpool A 0 – 4 35,726
22 September 1990 Southampton H 3 – 2 Blackmore, Hughes, McClair 41,288
29 September 1990 Nottingham Forest H 0 – 1 46,766
20 October 1990 Arsenal H 0 – 1 47,322
27 October 1990 Manchester City A 3 – 3 Hughes , McClair (2) 36,427
3 November 1990 Crystal Palace H 2 – 0 Wallace, Webb 45,724
10 November 1990 Derby County A 0 – 0 21,115
17 November 1990 Sheffield United H 2 – 2 Bruce, Hughes 45,903
25 November 1990 Chelsea H 2 – 3 Hughes, Wallace 37,836
1 December 1990 Everton A 1 – 0 Sharpe 32,400
8 December 1990 Leeds United H 1 – 1 Webb 40,947
15 December 1990 Coventry City A 2 – 2 Hughes, Wallace 17,106
22 December 1990 Wimbledon A 3 – 1 Bruce (2), Hughes 9,644
26 December 1990 Norwich City H 3 – 0 McClair (2), Hughes 39,801
29 December 1990 Aston Villa H 1 – 1 Bruce 47,485
1 January 1991 Tottenham Hotspur A 2 – 1 Bruce, McClair 29,399
12 January 1991 Sunderland H 3 – 0 Hughes (2), McClair 45,394
19 January 1991 Queens Park Rangers A 1 – 1 Phelan 18,544
3 February 1991 Liverpool H 1 – 1 Bruce 43,690
26 February 1991 Sheffield United A 1 – 2 Blackmore 27,570
2 March 1991 Everton H 0 – 2 45,656
10 March 1991 Chelsea A 2 – 3 Hughes, McClair 22,818
13 March 1991 Southampton A 1 – 1 Ince 15,701
16 March 1991 Nottingham Forest A 1 – 1 Blackmore 23,859
23 March 1991 Luton Town H 4 – 1 Bruce (2), McClair, Robins 41,752
30 March 1991 Norwich City A 3 – 0 Bruce (2), Ince 18,282
2 April 1991 Wimbledon H 2 – 1 Bruce, McClair 36,660
6 April 1991 Aston Villa A 1 – 1 Sharpe 33,307
16 April 1991 Derby County H 3 – 1 Blackmore, McClair, Robson 32,776
4 May 1991 Manchester City H 1 – 0 Giggs 45,286
6 May 1991 Arsenal A 1 – 3 Bruce 40,229
11 May 1991 Crystal Palace A 0 – 3 25,301
20 May 1991 Tottenham Hotspur H 1 – 1 Ince 46,791
Pos Club Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
5 Manchester City 38 17 11 10 64 53 +11 62
6 Manchester United 38 16 12 10 58 45 +13 59[2]
7 Wimbledon 38 14 14 10 53 46 +7 56

Pld = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; GF = Goals for; GA = Goals against; GD = Goal difference; Pts = Points

FA Cup

Date Round Opponents H / A Result

F – A

Scorers Attendance
7 January 1991 Round 3 Queens Park Rangers H 2 – 1 Hughes, McClair 35,065
26 January 1991 Round 4 Bolton Wanderers H 1 – 0 Hughes 43,293
18 February 1991 Round 5 Norwich City A 1 – 2 McClair 23,058

Rumbelows Cup

Date Round Opponents H / A Result

F – A

Scorers Attendance
26 September 1990 Round 2
First leg
Halifax Town A 3 – 1 Blackmore, McClair, Webb 6,841
10 October 1990 Round 2
Second leg
Halifax Town H 2 – 1 Anderson, Bruce 22,295
31 October 1990 Round 3 Liverpool H 3 – 1 Bruce, Hughes, Sharpe 42,033
28 November 1990 Round 4 Arsenal A 6 – 2 Sharpe (3), Blackmore, Hughes, Wallace 40,844
16 January 1991 Round 5 Southampton A 1 – 1 Hughes 21,101
23 January 1991 Round 5
Replay
Southampton H 3 – 2 Hughes (3) 41,903
10 February 1991 Semi-final
First leg
Leeds United H 2 – 1 McClair, Sharpe 34,050
24 February 1991 Semi-final
Second leg
Leeds United A 1 – 0 Sharpe 32,014
21 April 1991 Final Sheffield Wednesday N 0 – 1 77,612

Cup Winners' Cup

Date Round Opponents H / A Result

F – A

Scorers Attendance
19 September 1990 Round 1
First leg
Pécsi Munkás H 2 – 0 Blackmore, Webb 28,411
3 October 1990 Round 1
Second leg
Pécsi Munkás A 1 – 0 McClair 17,000
23 October 1990 Round 2
First leg
Wrexham H 3 – 0 Bruce, McClair, Pallister 29,405
7 November 1990 Round 2
Second leg
Wrexham A 2 – 0 Bruce, Robins 13,327
6 March 1991 Quarter-finals
First leg
Montpellier H 1 – 1 McClair 41,942
19 March 1991 Quarter-finals
Second leg
Montpellier A 2 – 0 Blackmore, Bruce 18,000
10 April 1991 Semi-finals
First leg
Legia Warsaw A 3 – 1 Bruce, Hughes, McClair 20,000
24 April 1991 Semi-finals
Second leg
Legia Warsaw H 1 – 1 Sharpe 44,269
15 May 1991 Final Barcelona N 2 – 1 Hughes (2) 50,000

Events of the season

The 1989-90 campaign had brought Alex Ferguson his first major trophy in four seasons as manager of Manchester United, as they defeated Crystal Palace after a replay to win the FA Cup for the seventh time - equalling the record held by Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur. However, their league form had arguably been their worst since relegation 16 years earlier, as they finished 13th in the First Division, and the squad still needed a few changes before United could be seen as serious title challengers.

Goalkeeper Les Sealey had received a permanent contract after a successful loan spell at Old Trafford that had begun the previous December when he joined from Luton Town, and for the 1990-91 season Ferguson chose Sealey as his first choice goalkeeper. Previous first choice goalkeeper Jim Leighton remained at the club, facing competition for second choice status from the younger Gary Walsh and Mark Bosnich. Ferguson's only other major signing of the summer was Denis Irwin, the Republic of Ireland international who joined from Oldham Athletic and was capable of playing on either side of defence, providing competition for Mike Phelan on the right and Lee Martin and Clayton Blackmore on the left. The midfield line-up was similarly impressive - Paul Ince, Neil Webb, Bryan Robson and Danny Wallace, with the added bonus of Phelan also being able to play in central midfield or on the right side. 19-year-old Lee Sharpe was capable of playing on either wing, showing promise as a star of the future. In attack, Mark Hughes and Brian McClair were an established partnership but 21-year-old Mark Robins was looking like a top striker of the future and a possible threat to McClair's place in the team.

On 10 July 1990, UEFA confirmed that English clubs would be able to compete in European competitions after five years following the Heysel disaster, meaning that Manchester United would be able to compete in the European Cup Winners' Cup.

The league season began six weeks later with a 2-0 home win over Coventry City in the First Division, a week after they were joint winners of the FA Charity Shield with a 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Wembley Stadium, two days after they lost 4-0 to Kenny Dalglish's team at Anfield in the First Division.

On 19 September, Manchester United marked their return to European competition with a 2-0 win over Pecsi Munkas of Hungary in the first round first leg of the European Cup Winners' Cup, progressing to the next stage of the European Cup Winners' Cup two weeks later by winning the second leg 1-0. By that date, they had also progressed to the Football League Cup third round with a 5-2 aggregate win over Halifax Town in the second round.

There were ugly scenes at Old Trafford on 20 October when all 11 Manchester United players and 10 out of 11 Arsenal players were involved in a brawl in the First Division clash at Old Trafford, which Arsenal win 1-0. United were deducted a league point for this, while Arsenal (by this stage the biggest threat to leaders Liverpool in the title race) were docked two points.

Three days later, Manchester United defeated Wrexham 3-0 in the European Cup Winners' Cup second round first leg at Old Trafford. At the end of the month, they eliminated Liverpool from the Football League Cup in the third round with a 3-1 win at Old Trafford, condemning the First Division leaders to their first defeat in a competitive game that season.

A 5-0 aggregate win over Wrexham completed on 7 November took them into the quarter-finals of the European Cup Winners' Cup.

On 27 November, Alex Ferguson offered a five-year contract to Ryan Giggs, a winger said to be the finest prospect in the British game since George Best. Giggs, who was born in Cardiff, would be eligible to sign a professional contract from his 17th birthday two days later. He obliged, and his first team debut was looking inevitable.

The day before Ryan Giggs signed for Manchester United, fellow youngster Lee Sharpe scored a hat-trick for Manchester United as they defeated Arsenal 6-2 in the Football League Cup fourth round at Highbury, meaning that the Football League Cup wouldn't be heading to North London in 1991. Sharpe had another fine game four days later when he scored the only goal of the game at Goodison Park in a 1-0 win over Everton, who had made a dismal start to the First Division campaign and were in the bottom half of the table just 12 months after being title contenders.

1991 began with 2-1 win for Alex Ferguson's men at Tottenham Hotspur, though the biggest piece of news arising from the game was that the opposition's Paul Gascoigne became the first player to be sent off in a live televised First Division game.

Six days later, their defence of the FA Cup began with a 2-1 win over Queen's Park Rangers in the third round at Old Trafford, and the following week they drew 1-1 at Southampton in the Football League Cup quarter-final, winning the replay 3-2 at Old Trafford thanks to a Mark Hughes hat-trick. Before the month was out, United defeated Third Division Bolton Wanderers 1-0 in the FA Cup fourth round at Old Trafford.

On 10 February 1991, Manchester United beat Leeds United 2-1 in the Football League Cup semi-final first leg at Old Trafford, and two weeks later they reached the final by winning the second leg 1-0. A week earlier, however, their FA Cup defence had ended in the fifth round with a 2-1 defeat at Norwich City, a side who had given the big clubs a surprise run for their money several times in the last five years.

2 March saw the much awaited debut of Ryan Giggs, who came on as a substitute for the injured Denis Irwin in a 2-0 home defeat by Everton in the First Division.

Four days later, Manchester United drew 1-1 at home to Montpellier HSC in the European Cup Winners' Cup quarter-final first leg, reaching the semi-final two weeks later by winning the return leg 2-0 in France.

The contest for a place in the final began on 10 April with a 3-1 away win over Legia Warsaw of Poland in the European Cup Winners' Cup semi-final first leg.

On 21 April, Manchester United suffered a surprise 1-0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday (managed by their former manager Ron Atkinson) in the Football League Cup final. The only goal of the game was scored by Irish international midfielder John Sheridan, a self-confessed Manchester United supporter. Three days later, however, they reached the European Cup Winners' Cup final for the first time with a 4-2 aggregate win over Legia Warsaw.

The final was won on 15 May 1991 in Rotterdam thanks to a 2-1 win over FC Barcelona, with Mark Hughes scored both goals against the team he had spent an unsuccessful campaign with four seasons earlier.

1990-91 was another highly successful season for Manchester United after a few years of frustration, with the boardroom featuring a major trophy once more. It was the first time in 23 years that United had won a major trophy in successive seasons. Their league form had also improved, but a lack of consistency restricted them to a sixth place finish - one place below City, who had not finished above them for more than a decade.

Les Sealey's one-year contract expired at the end of the season, and he now wanted a two-year deal, but departed on a free transfer to Aston Villa after being offered only a one-year deal. Also on his way out of the club was Ralph Milne, given a free transfer more than a year after his final first-team appearance.

During the close season, United added the Brøndby and Denmark goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel and QPR's England right-back Paul Parker to their ranks. The existing squad was already impressive, with young wingers Lee Sharpe and Ryan Giggs looking like highly exciting prospects for the future, and players like Neil Webb, Danny Wallace, Clayton Blackmore and Mark Robins being some of the best squad players that any club in the country had at their disposal.

1991-92 would be United's 25th season since their last league title triumph, and Alex Ferguson was determined to make sure that the title wait would end then.

Squad statistics

Pos. Name League FA Cup Rumbelows Cup Europe Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
GK Australia Mark Bosnich 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
GK Scotland Jim Leighton 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
GK England Les Sealey 31 0 3 0 8 0 8 0 1 0 51 0
GK England Gary Walsh 5 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 6 0
DF England Viv Anderson 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 3 1
DF Wales Clayton Blackmore 35 4 3 0 9 2 9 2 1 1 57 9
DF England Steve Bruce 31 13 3 0 7 2 8 4 1 0 50 19
DF Northern Ireland Mal Donaghy 17(8) 0 0 0 3(4) 0 2(3) 0 1 0 23(15) 0
DF Republic of Ireland Denis Irwin 33(1) 0 3 0 7(1) 0 6 0 1 0 50(2) 0
DF England Lee Martin 7(7) 0 1 0 2(2) 0 3(2) 0 0 0 13(11) 0
DF England Gary Pallister 36 0 3 0 9 0 9 1 1 0 58 1
DF England Neil Whitworth 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
MF England Russell Beardsmore 5(7) 0 0 0 1 0 1(1) 0 0 0 7(8) 0
MF Scotland Darren Ferguson 2(3) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2(3) 0
MF Wales Ryan Giggs 1(1) 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1(1) 1
MF England Paul Ince 31 3 2 0 6 0 7 0 1 0 47 3
MF Soviet Union Andrei Kanchelskis 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
MF England Mike Phelan 30(3) 1 1 0 7(1) 0 8 0 1 0 47(4) 1
MF England Bryan Robson 15(2) 1 3 0 5 0 4 0 0 0 27(2) 1
MF England Lee Sharpe 20(3) 2 3 0 7 6 6(2) 1 0 0 36(5) 9
MF England Neil Webb 31(1) 3 2 0 7 1 6 1 0 0 46(1) 5
MF England Paul Wratten 0(2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0(2) 0
FW Wales Mark Hughes 29(2) 10 3 2 9 6 7(1) 3 1 0 49(3) 21
FW Scotland Brian McClair 34(2) 13 3 2 9 2 9 4 1 0 56(2) 21
FW England Mark Robins 7(12) 4 0(1) 0 0(3) 0 2(1) 1 0(1) 0 9(18) 5
FW England Danny Wallace 13(6) 3 0(1) 0 1(3) 1 2(1) 0 1 0 17(11) 4

Transfers

In

Date Pos. Name From Fee
March 1991 MF Soviet Union Andrei Kanchelskis Shakhtar Donetsk Non-contract
20 May 1991 MF Soviet Union Andrei Kanchelskis Shakhtar Donetsk £1m

Out

Date Pos. Name To Fee
July 1990 DF England Michael Gray Sunderland Undisclosed
August 1990 DF England Mike Duxbury Blackburn Rovers Undisclosed
13 September 1990 FW England Andy Rammell Barnsley £100k
20 December 1990 DF England Colin Gibson Leicester City £100k
11 December 1990 DF England Tony Gill Unattached Free
9 January 1991 DF England Viv Anderson Sheffield Wednesday Undisclosed
6 March 1991 MF England Wayne Bullimore Barnsley Undisclosed
15 March 1991 MF England Paul McGuinness Unattached Free
30 June 1991 GK Australia Mark Bosnich Unattached Free
30 June 1991 FW England Marcus Brameld Unattached Free
30 June 1991 MF Wales Lee Costa Unattached Free
30 June 1991 DF Northern Ireland Alan McReavie Unattached Free
30 June 1991 MF Scotland Ralph Milne Bury Undisclosed
30 June 1991 GK England Mike Pollitt Bury Undisclosed
30 June 1991 DF England Les Potts Unattached Free
30 June 1991 MF England Roger Sallis Unattached Free
30 June 1991 GK England Les Sealey Aston Villa Undisclosed
30 June 1991 MF England John Sharples Hearts Undisclosed
30 June 1991 MF England Jimmy Shields Unattached Free
30 June 1991 GK England Jonathan Stanger Unattached Free
30 June 1991 DF England Alan Tonge Exeter City Undisclosed
30 June 1991 MF England David Wilson Exeter City Undisclosed

Loan out

Date From Date To Position Name To
27 September 1990 27 October 1990 DF England Colin Gibson Port Vale
5 October 1990 5 November 1990 GK England Mike Pollitt Oldham Athletic
October 1990 November 1990 MF England David Wilson Lincoln City
20 November 1990 20 December 1990 DF Republic of Ireland Derek Brazil Oldham Athletic
17 January 1991 17 February 1991 DF Republic of Ireland Brian Carey Wrexham
20 March 1991 20 April 1991 GK Scotland Jim Leighton Arsenal
March 1991 May 1991 DF England David Wilson Charlton Athletic

See also

References

  1. ^ "Manchester United Season 1990/91". StretfordEnd.co.uk. http://www.stretfordend.co.uk/seasons/season1991.html. Retrieved 23 May 2008. 
  2. ^ Manchester United deducted one point for their part in a brawl against Arsenal

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