1988–89 Manchester United F.C. season

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Manchester United
1988–89 season
Chairman Martin Edwards
Manager Alex Ferguson
First Division 11th
FA Cup Sixth Round
League Cup Third Round
Top goalscorer League:
Mark Hughes (14)
All:
Mark Hughes (16)
Brian McClair (16)
Highest home attendance 55,040 vs Nottingham Forest
(18 March 1989)
Lowest home attendance 23,368 vs Wimbledon (2 May 1989)
Average home league attendance 38,061
Home colours
Away colours
Third colours

The 1988–89 season was Manchester United's 86th season in the Football League, and their 14th consecutive season in the top division of English football.[1] Despite finishing second in the 1987–88 season, Manchester United did not play in the UEFA Cup in 1988–89 due to the ban on English clubs in Europe since the Heysel stadium disaster.

Former Manchester United striker Mark Hughes returned to the club following spells at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, finishing the season as PFA Player of the Year and also as United's joint top scorer alongside Brian McClair with 16 goals in all competitions.

Several important youth players including Lee Sharpe were given regular first team football in light of injuries to key players. Also new to the squad was goalkeeper Jim Leighton, who conceded just 35 goals in 38 league games and kept 15 clean sheets. Mid-season signings were defender Mal Donaghy from Luton Town and winger Ralph Milne from Bristol City. It was the final season at the club for Gordon Strachan, who left in March, and was followed at the end of the season by the departures of Norman Whiteside and Paul McGrath, while Remi Moses retired due to injury.

United had a slow start in the league, including a nine-match winless run incorporating eight draws and a defeat, from September to November, followed by a mid-season run of strong form which lifted them from mid table to the top three, before a run of disappointing results to the season dragged them down to 11th place in the final table. They suffered an early exit from the League Cup and lost their final chance of silverware in March when they were beaten by Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford in the FA Cup quarter final.

Pre-season[edit]

Manchester United talisman Mark Hughes returned to Old Trafford in 1988 after spells in Europe with Barcelona and Bayern Munich for a club record fee of £1.8 million. But Ferguson's other high profile target, Paul Gascoigne, turned down an opportunity to move to Manchester United despite a verbal agreement between Ferguson and the player and a Maltese holiday paid for by the United manager.[2] Ferguson signed Jim Leighton from former club Aberdeen for £750,000 in order to fill the goalkeeping void left by the retiring Gary Bailey, the underperforming Chris Turner and the injury-prone Gary Walsh.[3]

Season performance[edit]

Manchester United's inconsistency was highlighted early on, recording three consecutive wins; following the 2–0 victory over West Ham United towards the end of September, before failing to record another one until early December, ten games later. Manchester United also recorded six wins from seven games between Boxing Day 1988 and 11 February 1989 before their league season faltered, recording just three more victories in the season.

With the club failing to achieve in the league, many fans began to realise that the cups would be the only realistic opportunity for silverware. They needed three games to defeat Queens Park Rangers in the FA Cup Third Round, before hitting four past Oxford United in the next round. United's three biggest attendances for the season came in the FA Cup, highlighting its importance to the fans, though the campaign eventually ended in defeat at the hands of Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest side in the quarter finals.

Manchester United were also unsuccessful in the season's League Cup; after confidently defeating Rotherham United over two legs, they lost 2–1 to Wimbledon at Plough Lane and were knocked out of the competition.

Pre-season and friendlies[edit]

Date Opponents H / A Result
F – A
Scorers Attendance
6 August 1988 Laxå A 4 – 0 McClair, Hughes, Olsen, Karlsson (o.g.) 1,521
10 August 1988 Vålerenga A 0 – 0 6,296
11 August 1988 Karlstad A 6 – 0 McClair, O'Brien, Strachan, Davenport, Hughes, Dalton 3,461
14 August 1988 Trollhättan A 8 – 1 Davenport (3), O'Brien, Strachan, McClair, Hughes, Olsen 3,018
16 August 1988 Hamburg H 0 – 0 14,348
21 August 1988 Manchester City H 5 – 2 McClair (2; 1 pen), Olsen, Hughes, Martin 25,432
3 October 1988 Hibernian A 3 – 0 Wilson, Hughes, Robins 14,236
29 November 1988 Birmingham City A 5 – 2 Hughes, McClair (pen.), Robson, Blackmore, Robins 8,993
1 March 1989 Queen of the South A 6 – 3 McClair (2), Robins (2), Donaghy, Gill (pen.) 3,776
20 May 1989 Histon N 3 – 1 Toal, Blackmore, Hughes

First Division[edit]

Date Opponents H / A Result
F – A
Scorers Attendance League
position
27 August 1988 Queens Park Rangers H 0 – 0 46,377 10th
3 September 1988 Liverpool A 0 – 1 42,026 14th
10 September 1988 Middlesbrough H 1 – 0 Robson 70' 40,422 10th
17 September 1988 Luton Town A 2 – 0 Davenport 19', Robson 84' 11,010 8th
24 September 1988 West Ham United H 2 – 0 Davenport 37', Hughes 67' 39,941 5th
1 October 1988 Tottenham Hotspur A 2 – 2 Hughes 43', McClair 72' 29,318 5th
22 October 1988 Wimbledon A 1 – 1 Hughes 23' 12,143 7th
26 October 1988 Norwich City H 1 – 2 Hughes 59' 36,998 8th
30 October 1988 Everton A 1 – 1 Hughes 69' 27,005 10th
5 November 1988 Aston Villa H 1 – 1 Bruce 42' 44,804 11th
12 November 1988 Derby County A 2 – 2 Hughes 42', McClair 64' 24,080 11th
19 November 1988 Southampton H 2 – 2 Robson 16', Hughes 53' 37,277 11th
23 November 1988 Sheffield Wednesday H 1 – 1 Hughes 83' 30,849 9th
27 November 1988 Newcastle United A 0 – 0 20,350 11th
3 December 1988 Charlton Athletic H 3 – 0 Milne 22', McClair 55', Hughes 78' 31,173 9th
10 December 1988 Coventry City A 0 – 1 19,936 10th
17 December 1988 Arsenal A 1 – 2 Hughes 81' 37,422 10th
26 December 1988 Nottingham Forest H 2 – 0 Milne 23', Hughes 53' 39,582 9th
1 January 1989 Liverpool H 3 – 1 McClair 71', Hughes 75', Beardsmore 77' 44,745 6th
2 January 1989 Middlesbrough A 0 – 1 24,411 9th
14 January 1989 Millwall H 3 – 0 Blackmore 12', Gill 23', Hughes 73' 40,931 6th
21 January 1989 West Ham United A 3 – 1 Strachan 28', Martin 55', McClair 60' 29,822 6th
5 February 1989 Tottenham Hotspur H 1 – 0 McClair 57' 41,423 5th
11 February 1989 Sheffield Wednesday A 2 – 0 McClair (2) 37', 61' 34,820 3rd
25 February 1989 Norwich City A 1 – 2 McGrath 82' 23,155 5th
12 March 1989 Aston Villa A 0 – 0 28,332 7th
25 March 1989 Luton Town H 2 – 0 Milne 3', Blackmore 25' 36,335 6th
27 March 1989 Nottingham Forest A 0 – 2 30,092 7th
2 April 1989 Arsenal H 1 – 1 Adams 85' (o.g.) 37,977 10th
8 April 1989 Millwall A 0 – 0 17,523 10th
15 April 1989 Derby County H 0 – 2 34,145 10th
22 April 1989 Charlton Athletic A 0 – 1 12,055 10th
29 April 1989 Coventry City H 0 – 1 29,799 11th
2 May 1989 Wimbledon H 1 – 0 McClair 89' 23,368 10th
6 May 1989 Southampton A 1 – 2 Beardsmore 54' 17,021 10th
8 May 1989 Queens Park Rangers A 2 – 3 Bruce 15', Blackmore 22' 10,017 11th
10 May 1989 Everton H 1 – 2 Hughes 32' 26,722 11th
13 May 1989 Newcastle United H 2 – 0 McClair 75', Robson 82' 30,379 10th
Pos Club Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
10 Millwall 38 14 11 13 47 52 −5 53
11 Manchester United 38 13 12 13 45 35 +10 51
12 Wimbledon 38 14 9 15 50 46 +4 51

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
7 January 1989 Round 3 Queens Park Rangers H 0 – 0 36,222
11 January 1989 Round 3
Replay
Queens Park Rangers A 2 – 2
(a.e.t.)
Gill 75', Graham 104' 22,236
23 January 1989 Round 3
Second Replay
Queens Park Rangers H 3 – 0 McClair (2) 55' (pen.), 79', Robson 72' 46,257
28 January 1989 Round 4 Oxford United H 4 – 0 Hughes 10', Bruce 61', J. Phillips 63' (o.g.), Robson 82' 47,445
18 February 1989 Round 5 Bournemouth A 1 – 1 Hughes 53' 12,708
22 February 1989 Round 5
Replay
Bournemouth H 1 – 0 McClair 19' 52,422
18 March 1989 Round 6 Nottingham Forest H 0 – 1 55,040

League Cup[edit]

Date Round Opponents H / A Result
F – A
Scorers Attendance
28 September 1988 Round 2
First leg
Rotherham United A 1 – 0 Davenport 60' 12,588
12 October 1988 Round 2
Second leg
Rotherham United H 5 – 0 McClair (3) 27', 29', 69', Robson 35', Bruce 48' 20,597
2 November 1988 Round 3 Wimbledon A 1 – 2 Robson 30' 10,864

Football League Centenary Trophy[edit]

Date Round Opponents H / A Result
F – A
Scorers Attendance
29 August 1988 Round 1 Everton H 1 – 0 Strachan 66' 16,439
21 September 1988 Semi-final Newcastle United H 2 – 0
(a.e.t.)
Bruce 91', McClair 101' 14,968
9 October 1988 Final Arsenal N 1 – 2 Blackmore 86' 22,182

Events of the season[edit]

Before the season began, Paul Gascoigne snubbed Manchester United in favour of a national record move from Newcastle United to Tottenham Hotspur for £2 million, and there was also talk of a similar fee being paid for PSV Eindhoven sweeper Ronald Koeman, who helped Holland win UEFA Euro 1988. [1]

Norman Whiteside and Paul McGrath had been transfer listed at the end of the previous season but the lack of interest in them disappointed Alex Ferguson, who had re-signed striker Mark Hughes from FC Barcelona and brought in goalkeeper Jim Leighton from Aberdeen as successor to Sheffield Wednesday bound Chris Turner. Gordon Strachan agreed terms with Lens of France for a £100,000 transfer, but the deal fell through. Paul McGrath then came off the transfer list at his own request. [2]

On 24 September 1988, Ferguson gave debuts to 17-year-old winger Lee Sharpe and 19-year-old striker Mark Robins in the 2–0 home win over West Ham United in the First Division. This saw United occupy fifth place in the league, level on points with Southampton, a single point behind defending champions Liverpool and newly promoted Millwall, and three points behind surprise leaders Norwich City. [3] However, a 10-match winless league run (8 draws and 2 defeats) followed [4], dragging them to 11th place in the table by 27 November. [5] The winless streak ended on 3 December with an impressive 3–0 home win over Charlton Athletic. [6]

While United were on their winless streak, they sold out of favour striker Peter Davenport to Middlesbrough for £700,000. [7] They also failed in their Football League Cup quest when they lost 2–1 to Wimbledon at Plough Lane. Brian McClair scored their only goal of the game, while both of Wimbledon's goals were scored by former United striker Terry Gibson. [8]

Alex Ferguson continued to build for the future in November by making a £20,000 move for 21-year-old midfielder Paul Dalton from non-league Brandon United. [9] He also signed 22-year-old winger Giuliano Maiorana from non-league Histon for £30,000. [10]

Five days before Christmas, Jean Busby, wife of legendary former manager and current club president Sir Matt, died after a long illness at the age of 80. [11]

A thrilling clash with Liverpool at Old Trafford on New Year's Day was dominated by 19-year-old midfielder Russell Beardsmore, who scored his first goal for the club and lifted them to sixth in the league, while Liverpool were fifth, and Arsenal and Norwich City were level at the top of the league. [12]

Soon after this successful result, Manchester United were reported to be among the clubs interested in signing Nottingham Forest and England midfielder Neil Webb, who was told by manager Brian Clough that he could leave the City Ground for around £1.5 million after stating that he did not want to sign a new contract. [13]

By 11 February, United were third in the league thanks to a 2–0 win over Sheffield Wednesday that completed a four-match winning run in the First Division, though they were still 11 points behind leaders Arsenal (who had a game in hand) and 8 points behind second placed Norwich City. [14]

Manchester United reached the FA Cup quarter-finals (for the first time since they won the competition four years ago) with a 1–0 home win over AFC Bournemouth in the fifth round replay. [15], but their last chance of silverware ended when they lost 1–0 at home to Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup quarter-final.

Their form in the final weeks of the league campaign was dismal, as they finished 11th at the end of a season which had begun with such high hopes. Alex Ferguson remained determined to turn his side into title contenders, and just after the season ended he joined the race to sign England winger Trevor Steven, who had been put on the transfer list by Everton. [16], but was beaten to his signature by Rangers.

A £600,000 offer for Fiorentina and Sweden defender Glenn Hysén was accepted, but he opted to join Liverpool instead.

Several other high profile names were also mentioned in the media as Ferguson attempted to strengthen his squad. These included West Ham United midfielder Paul Ince, Southampton winger Danny Wallace, Nottingham Forest midfielder Neil Webb and Norwich City midfielder Mike Phelan. [17]

Squad statistics[edit]

Pos. Name League FA Cup Littlewoods Cup Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
GK Scotland Jim Leighton 38 0 7 0 3 0 48 0
DF England Viv Anderson 5(1) 0 0 0 0(1) 0 6(2) 0
DF Wales Clayton Blackmore 26(2) 3 5(1) 0 3 0 34(3) 3
DF England Steve Bruce 38 2 7 1 3 1 48 4
DF Northern Ireland Mal Donaghy 30 0 7 0 0 0 37 0
DF England Mike Duxbury 16(2) 0 0 0 3 0 19(2) 0
DF England Billy Garton 13(1) 0 0 0 2 0 15(1) 0
DF England Colin Gibson 1(1) 0 0 0 1 0 2(1) 0
DF England Lee Martin 20(4) 1 4(1) 0 0 0 24(5) 1
DF Republic of Ireland Paul McGrath 18(2) 1 4(1) 0 1 0 23(3) 1
MF England Russell Beardsmore 17(6)) 2 3(2) 0 1(1) 0 21(9) 2
MF England Tony Gill 4(5) 1 2(2) 0 0 0 6(7) 2
MF Wales Deiniol Graham 0 0 0(1) 1 0 0 0(1) 1
MF Scotland Ralph Milne 19(3) 3 7 0 0 0 26(3) 3
MF Republic of Ireland Liam O'Brien 1(2) 0 0 0 1 0 2(2) 0
MF Denmark Jesper Olsen 6(4) 0 0 0 1(1) 0 7(5) 0
MF England Bryan Robson 34 4 6 2 3 2 43 8
MF England Lee Sharpe 19(3) 0 5(1) 0 2 0 26(4) 0
MF Scotland Gordon Strachan 21 1 5(0) 0 2(1) 0 28(1) 1
MF Northern Ireland Norman Whiteside 6 0 0 0 0 0 6 0
MF England David Wilson 0(4) 0 0(2) 0 0 0 0(6) 0
FW Scotland Derek Brazil 0(1) 0 0 0 0 0 0(1) 0
FW England Peter Davenport 7(1) 2 0 0 1(1) 1 8(2) 3
FW Wales Mark Hughes 38 14 7 2 3 0 48 16
FW England Giuliano Maiorana 2(4) 0 0 0 0 0 2(4) 0
FW Scotland Brian McClair 38 10 7 3 3 3 48 16
FW England Mark Robins 1(9) 0 1 0 0(1) 0 1(10) 0

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Manchester United Season 1988/89". StretfordEnd.co.uk. Retrieved 4 April 2009. 
  2. ^ "The spoilers top ten transfer snubs of all time". Retrieved 3 April 2009. 
  3. ^ "Aberdeen and Manchester United". Retrieved 3 April 2009.