1986–87 Manchester United F.C. season

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Manchester United
1986–87 season
Chairman Martin Edwards
Manager Ron Atkinson
(until 4 November 1986)
Alex Ferguson
(from 6 November 1986)
First Division 11th
FA Cup Fourth Round
League Cup Third Round
Top goalscorer League:
Peter Davenport (14)
All:
Peter Davenport (16)
Highest home attendance 54,294 vs Manchester City (10 January 1987)
Lowest home attendance 18,906 vs Port Vale (24 September 1986)
Average home league attendance 39,962
Home colours
Away colours
Third colours

The 1986–87 season was Manchester United's 84th season in the Football League, and their 12th consecutive season in the top division of English football.[1]

The pressure on manager Ron Atkinson after last season's failed title challenge remained strong after United lost their opening three games of the season, and despite some decent results in the following few weeks, United bowed out of the League Cup in a fourth round replay defeat at Southampton, prompting the dismissal of Atkinson on 6 November 1986 after more than five years in charge.

Alex Ferguson was confirmed as Atkinson's successor within hours, recruited from Scottish side Aberdeen, where he had enjoyed considerable success in the previous seven years. United recovered well in the league after his appointment and finished 11th, managing to scratch up some impressive results including winning both of their league clashes with Liverpool (results which helped deprive Kenny Dalglish's side of the league title), a 4–1 home win over Newcastle United on New Year's Day 1987, a 2–0 home win over a resurgent Arsenal and a 2–0 win at Old Trafford in the Manchester derby which helped push City towards relegation. Their win at Liverpool also made them the only team to win at Liverpool in the league all season.

However, United were prevented from finishing even higher in the league by a few disappointing results after Ferguson's arrival, beginning with a 2–0 defeat in their first game under Ferguson at Oxford United, losing both of their clashes with newly promoted Wimbledon, being beaten at Old Trafford by Norwich City just after Christmas and suffering a 4–0 defeat at Tottenham near the end of the season, although by the time of the Tottenham game it was mathematically impossible for United to either win the title or suffer relegation (there was no prospect of European qualification due to the ongoing ban on English clubs in Europe following the Heysel disaster two years earlier). United also failed to win any another away games in the league apart from the visit to Liverpool on Boxing Day.


Pre-season and friendlies[edit]

Date Opponents H / A Result
F – A
Scorers Attendance
6 August 1986 Fluminense H 0 – 0
(4 – 3p)
32,275
8 August 1986 Dynamo Kyiv N 1 – 1
(4 – 1p)
Blackmore 27,500
10 August 1986 Ajax A 0 – 1 23,000
14 August 1986 Shamrock Rovers A 0 – 2 10,200
17 August 1986 Real Sociedad H 1 – 1 Blackmore 12,826
2 September 1986 Hearts A 2 – 2 Olsen (pen.), T. Gibson 10,438
10 September 1986 Linfield A 3 – 0 Robson (2), Davenport 10,919
15 December 1986 GCC All-Stars N 1 – 0 Whiteside 4,000
21 January 1987 Red Star Belgrade H 0 – 1 10,652
24 February 1987 Swansea City A 3 – 1 T. Gibson, Whiteside, Davenport 6,467
18 March 1987 Shamrock Rovers A 1 – 2 Robson 8,000
25 March 1987 Celtic A 0 – 1 36,000
10 May 1987 England XI H 7 – 2 Hughes (4; 1 pen.), Martin, Gibson, Bond (o.g.) 16,907
16 May 1987 Naxxar Lions N 9 – 0 Whiteside (3), O'Brien (2), Blackmore, Davenport (pen.), Duxbury, Stapleton 4,000

First Division[edit]

Date Opponents H / A Result
F – A
Scorers Attendance League
position
23 August 1986 Arsenal A 0 – 1 41,382 15th
25 August 1986 West Ham United H 2 – 3 Stapleton 40', Davenport 46' 43,306 18th
30 August 1986 Charlton Athletic H 0 – 1 37,544 21st
6 September 1986 Leicester City A 1 – 1 Whiteside 52' 16,785 22nd
13 September 1986 Southampton H 5 – 1 Olsen 22' (pen.), Davenport 25', Stapleton (2) 36', 83', Whiteside 53' 40,135 19th
16 September 1986 Watford A 0 – 1 21,650 19th
21 September 1986 Everton A 1 – 3 Robson 12' 25,843 21st
28 September 1986 Chelsea H 0 – 1 33,340 21st
4 October 1986 Nottingham Forest A 1 – 1 Robson 73' 34,828 21st
11 October 1986 Sheffield Wednesday H 3 – 1 Davenport (2) 35' (pen.), 85', Whiteside 83' 45,890 20th
18 October 1986 Luton Town H 1 – 0 Stapleton 9' 39,927 19th
25 October 1986 Manchester City A 1 – 1 Stapleton 47' 32,440 20th
1 November 1986 Coventry City H 1 – 1 Davenport 31' 36,946 19th
8 November 1986 Oxford United A 0 – 2 13,545 20th
15 November 1986 Norwich City A 0 – 0 22,684 21st
22 November 1986 Queens Park Rangers H 1 – 0 Sivebæk 32' 42,235 17th
29 November 1986 Wimbledon A 0 – 1 12,112 17th
7 December 1986 Tottenham Hotspur H 3 – 3 Whiteside 11', Davenport (2) 36', 88' (pen.) 35,957 16th
13 December 1986 Aston Villa A 3 – 3 Davenport (2) 18', 55', Whiteside 54' 29,205 17th
20 December 1986 Leicester City H 2 – 0 C. Gibson 11', Stapleton 67' 34,150 15th
26 December 1986 Liverpool A 1 – 0 Whiteside 78' 40,663 14th
27 December 1986 Norwich City H 0 – 1 44,610 15th
1 January 1987 Newcastle United H 4 – 1 P. Jackson 4' (o.g.), Whiteside 9', Stapleton 56', Olsen 90' 43,334 14th
3 January 1987 Southampton A 1 – 1 Olsen 11' 20,409 13th
24 January 1987 Arsenal H 2 – 0 Strachan 55', T. Gibson 90' 51,367 13th
7 February 1987 Charlton Athletic A 0 – 0 15,482 13th
14 February 1987 Watford H 3 – 1 McGrath 26', Davenport 48' (pen.), Strachan 65' 35,763 11th
21 February 1987 Chelsea A 1 – 1 Davenport 61' (pen.) 26,516 12th
28 February 1987 Everton H 0 – 0 47,421 12th
7 March 1987 Manchester City H 2 – 0 Reid 62' (o.g.), Robson 85' 48,619 10th
14 March 1987 Luton Town A 1 – 2 Robson 88' 12,509 13th
21 March 1987 Sheffield Wednesday A 0 – 1 29,888 13th
28 March 1987 Nottingham Forest H 2 – 0 McGrath 12', Robson 44' 39,182 12th
4 April 1987 Oxford United H 3 – 2 Davenport (2) 25', 35', Robson 90' 32,443 11th
14 April 1987 West Ham United A 0 – 0 23,486 11th
18 April 1987 Newcastle United A 1 – 2 Strachan 41' 32,706 12th
20 April 1987 Liverpool H 1 – 0 Davenport 88' 54,103 11th
25 April 1987 Queens Park Rangers A 1 – 1 Strachan 49' 17,414 11th
2 May 1987 Wimbledon H 0 – 1 31,686 11th
4 May 1987 Tottenham Hotspur A 0 – 4 36,692 11th
6 May 1987 Coventry City A 1 – 1 Whiteside 25' 23,407 11th
9 May 1987 Aston Villa H 3 – 1 Blackmore 55', Duxbury 63', Robson 65' 35,179 11th
Pos Club Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
10 Coventry City 42 17 12 13 50 45 +5 63
11 Manchester United 42 14 14 14 52 45 +7 56
12 Southampton 42 14 10 18 69 68 +1 52

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[edit]

Date Round Opponents H / A Result
F – A
Scorers Attendance
10 January 1987 Round 3 Manchester City H 1 – 0 Whiteside 66' 54,294
31 January 1987 Round 4 Coventry City H 0 – 1 49,082

League Cup[edit]

Date Round Opponents H / A Result
F – A
Scorers Attendance
24 September 1986 Round 2
First leg
Port Vale H 2 – 0 Stapleton 51', Whiteside 81' 18,906
7 October 1986 Round 2
Second leg
Port Vale A 5 – 2 Stapleton 34', Barnes 71', Moses (2) 75', 89', Davenport 77' (pen.) 10,486
29 October 1986 Round 3 Southampton H 0 – 0 23,639
4 November 1986 Round 3
Replay
Southampton A 1 – 4 Davenport 17,915

Events of the season[edit]

During the close season, there was speculation that manager Ron Atkinson was about to be sacked and that Aberdeen manager Alex Ferguson was going to be appointed in his place. Atkinson tried to fight back and prove the critics wrong. He attempted to sign the England defender Terry Butcher from Ipswich Town, but lost out to Rangers (who were managed by the former Liverpool midfielder Graeme Souness).

On 8 August, dozens of Manchester United and West Ham United fans were arrested following clashes on an Amsterdam-bound Sealink ferry. This sparked fears that English clubs could even be banned from contesting friendlies with foreign sides, on top of their ban from UEFA matches.[2]

The First Division campaign kicked off on 23 August, with Manchester United losing 1–0 to Arsenal. All of United's first three league games ended in defeat, placing them second from bottom in the First Division with only Aston Villa below them.[3]

Their first league win of the season finally came on 13 September, when they demolished Southampton 5–1 at Old Trafford,[4] which lifted them to 19th of 22, in a division in which they had not finished lower than fourth in any of the five previous campaigns.[5]

A dismal league game at Old Trafford on 28 September saw United lose 1–0 at home to Chelsea, and more frustratingly United missed both of the two penalties they were awarded in the game; the first from Jesper Olsen, the second from Gordon Strachan.[6]

In late October, experienced defender John Gidman joined neighbours Manchester City on a free transfer, but there was no talk of new additions to a hard pressed squad.[7] There were also fears that Gary Bailey, still only 28 but out of action for nearly a year due to a knee injury, could retire from football in the near future if he failed to make a good recovery from the injury.[8]

On 1 November, Manchester United completed a six-match unbeaten run in the league (their last defeat being against Chelsea on 28 September) by drawing 1–1 with Coventry City, but they were still fourth from bottom and speculation over Atkinson's future as manager continued to mount.[9]

Atkinson was finally dismissed on 5 November, the day after his team were beaten 4–1 by Southampton in a Football League Cup third round replay. It was their first defeat in a competitive game since 28 September, and their heaviest in a competitive game for 18 months. Within 24 hours, Alex Ferguson agreed to take over as Manchester United's new manager on a four-year contract. His first game in charge took place three days later, when Manchester United's six-match unbeaten run in the league came to an end with a 2–0 defeat to Oxford United. His first win at the helm came on 22 November when they beat Queen's Park Rangers 1–0 in the league at Old Trafford.

Their good progress continued in December as they gained their first away league win of the season with a 1–0 win over Liverpool at Anfield. It was the first time that Liverpool lost a home game in the 1986–87 league season. Norman Whiteside scored the only goal of the game for a side who have climbed from 21st to 14th in the league since Ferguson's appointment.[10][11]

There was a setback two days later, however, when captain Bryan Robson suffered a hamstring injury in Manchester United's 1–0 home defeat by Norwich City in the league.[12]

The quest for the FA Cup began on 10 January at Old Trafford, in a Manchester derby which United won 1–0, the only goal of the game scored by Norman Whiteside.

Four days after the FA Cup win, winger Peter Barnes became the second Manchester United player to join Manchester City that season, moving to Maine Road in a £20,000 deal.[13]

The club's name was tarnished again on 20 January when 26 suspected football hooligans (some of them Manchester United supporters) were arrested in police raids across England.[14]

Manchester United blew their final chance of silverware this season by losing 1–0 at home to Coventry City in the FA Cup fourth round at the end of January.

The 110th Manchester derby (a league clash at Old Trafford on 7 March) saw Manchester United win 2–0, taking them to 10th place, while Manchester City sink into 19th place (the relegation playoff place).[15][16]

Later that month, Alex Ferguson expressed interest in bringing Mark Hughes back to Old Trafford after a spell in Spain which had so far been disappointing.[17]

Plans were unveiled around this time for Old Trafford to be expanded into a world class modern stadium which to resemble Barcelona's Nou Camp.[18]

In April, chairman Martin Edwards announced plans to introduce a ground-breaking new membership scheme to combat football hooliganism.[19]

April also saw Manchester United complete a double over Liverpool in the North West derby with a 1–0 win at Old Trafford, counting against the red half of Merseyside's title hopes as the title was heading for Everton.[20]

Gary Bailey finally announced his retirement from playing on 23 April 1987, having failed to make a full recovery from the knee injury he had suffered 17 months earlier.

Manchester United's season ended with a 3–1 home win over relegated Aston Villa,[21] which secured them an 11th place finish in the First Division - their lowest since relegation from the top flight 13 years ago.[22]

Goalkeeper Chris Turner and defender Graeme Hogg were put on the transfer list at the end of the season.[23]

Bids were made for the Celtic and Scotland striker Brian McClair as well as the AC Milan and England striker Mark Hateley.[24] A potential record breaking bid was made for the Newcastle United and England striker Peter Beardsley, who had a brief and unsuccessful spell at Old Trafford five years earlier.

A less significant signing was made by Ferguson when he pays £250,000 for Arsenal defender Viv Anderson.[25] Striker Frank Stapleton was on his way out of the Old Trafford exit door that summer, moving to Ajax of the Netherlands in a £100,000 deal.[26]

Brian McClair finally agreed to sign for Manchester United in a deal which a tribunal set at £850,000, while Beardsley joined Liverpool for a national record fee of £1.9 million and Hateley remained on the continent in a transfer to AS Monaco.

United also made an approach for Norwich City striker Kevin Drinkell, but the player rejected Alex Ferguson's terms and decided to remain at Carrow Road instead.[27]

Squad statistics[edit]

Pos. Name League FA Cup Littlewoods Cup Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
GK England Gary Bailey 5 0 0 0 0 0 5 0
GK England Chris Turner 23 0 2 0 4 0 29 0
GK England Gary Walsh 14 0 0 0 0 0 14 0
DF Scotland Arthur Albiston 19(3) 0 0 0 4 0 23(3) 0
DF Wales Clayton Blackmore 10(2) 1 1 0 0 0 11(2) 1
DF England Mike Duxbury 32 1 2 0 3 0 37 1
DF England Billy Garton 9 0 2 0 0 0 11 0
DF England Colin Gibson 24 1 1 0 1 0 26 1
DF Scotland Graeme Hogg 11 0 0 0 2 0 13 0
DF Republic of Ireland Paul McGrath 34(1) 2 0(1) 0 4 0 38(2) 2
DF Republic of Ireland Kevin Moran 32(1) 0 2 0 2(1) 0 36(2) 0
DF Denmark John Sivebæk 27(1) 1 2 0 1 0 30(1) 1
MF England Peter Barnes 7 0 0 0 2 1 9 1
MF England Tony Gill 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
MF England Remi Moses 17(1) 0 0 0 4 2 21(1) 2
MF Republic of Ireland Liam O'Brien 9(2) 0 0 0 0 0 9(2) 0
MF Denmark Jesper Olsen 22(6) 3 2 0 1(1) 0 25(7) 3
MF England Bryan Robson 29(1) 7 0 0 3 0 32(1) 7
MF Scotland Gordon Strachan 33(1) 4 2 0 2 0 37(1) 4
FW England Peter Davenport 34(5) 14 1(1) 0 4 2 39(6) 16
FW England Terry Gibson 12(4) 1 1(1) 0 0(2) 0 13(7) 1
FW Republic of Ireland Frank Stapleton 25(9) 7 2 0 4 2 31(9) 9
FW Northern Ireland Norman Whiteside 31 8 2 1 3(1) 1 36(1) 10
FW England Nicky Wood 2 0 0 0 0(1) 0 2(1) 0

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Manchester United Season 1986/87". StretfordEnd.co.uk. Retrieved 21 December 2011. 
  2. ^ [1]
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  10. ^ [9]
  11. ^ [10]
  12. ^ [11]
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  14. ^ [13]
  15. ^ [14]
  16. ^ [15]
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  27. ^ [26]