1991–92 Manchester United F.C. season
|FA Cup||Fourth Round|
|Cup Winners' Cup||Second Round|
|UEFA Super Cup||Winners|
Brian McClair (18)
Brian McClair (25)
|Highest home attendance||47,576 vs Nottingham Forest (20 April 1992)|
|Lowest home attendance||22,110 vs Red Star Belgrade (19 November 1991)|
|Average home league attendance||42,061|
The season saw United lift the League Cup for the first time in their history with a 1–0 win over Nottingham Forest at Wembley Stadium, but they then endured the disappointment of being beaten to the league title by rivals Leeds United, having led the league for much of the season.
New signings for the season included Danish goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel and England right-back Paul Parker. Ryan Giggs, who had played twice for United in 1990–91, broke into the first team and was one of the most exciting players in the country as he won the PFA Young Player of the Year award.
Soviet international winger Andrei Kanchelskis, who had joined United in the later stages of the 1990–91 season, was also putting in star performances to give manager Alex Ferguson a more attacking alternative to the ageing Mike Phelan on the right hand side of midfield.
It was the final season at Old Trafford for striker Mark Robins, a key player from the FA Cup winning team two seasons earlier. His first team opportunities were limited due to the form of Mark Hughes and Brian McClair, and he was unfit when injuries opened up an opportunity for regular action in attack near the season's end. He was then put on the transfer list and by the start of the following season, he had been sold to Norwich City. Lee Martin had regained fitness following his back injury the previous season, but was unable to win a place in the team. Danny Wallace, who was by now rarely selected for the first team, was put on the transfer list before Christmas, but was still at Old Trafford when the season ended, despite talk of a return to Southampton. Russell Beardsmore, now a rare sight in the first team, had a brief loan spell at Blackburn Rovers.
Media reports for most of the season linked United with a move for Southampton striker Alan Shearer, but the player opted to remain at the South Coast club until the end of the season before making a decision on a future.
Pre-season and friendlies
|Date||Opponents||H / A||Result
F – A
|24 July 1991||Mazda||H||1 – 2||Ferguson|
|29 July 1991||Strømsgodset||A||3 – 1||Ince, Beardsmore, Wallace||7,809|
|30 July 1991||Viking||A||1 – 0||Robins||6,025|
|1 August 1991||Molde||A||3 – 1||Blackmore, Hughes (2)||3,468|
|4 August 1991||Dumbarton||A||5 – 0||Robins (2), Hughes (2), McClair||1,570|
|5 August 1991||Aberdeen||A||1 – 1
(4 – 3p)
|7 August 1991||Austria Memphis||A||1 – 5||McClair||12,000|
|11 August 1991||Republic of Ireland XI||H||1 – 1||Robson||33,412|
|3 May 1992||Everton||H||2 – 4||Ince, Hughes||7,434|
|8 May 1992||Manchester City||A||2 – 1||Bruce (pen.), Toal||4,696|
|Date||Opponents||H / A||Result
F – A
|17 August 1991||Notts County||H||2 – 0||Hughes 40', Robson 57'||46,278||1st|
|21 August 1991||Aston Villa||A||1 – 0||Bruce 38' (pen.)||39,995||1st|
|24 August 1991||Everton||A||0 – 0||36,085||2nd|
|28 August 1991||Oldham Athletic||H||1 – 0||McClair 85'||42,078||1st|
|31 August 1991||Leeds United||H||1 – 1||Robson 85'||43,778||1st|
|3 September 1991||Wimbledon||A||2 – 1||Blackmore 25', Pallister 43'||13,824||1st|
|7 September 1991||Norwich City||H||3 – 0||Irwin 20', McClair 23', Giggs 28'||44,946||1st|
|14 September 1991||Southampton||A||1 – 0||Hughes 48'||19,264||1st|
|21 September 1991||Luton Town||H||5 – 0||Ince 23', Bruce 63' (pen.), McClair (2) 76', 80', Hughes 87'||46,491||1st|
|28 September 1991||Tottenham Hotspur||A||2 – 1||Hughes 21', Robson 86'||35,087||1st|
|6 October 1991||Liverpool||H||0 – 0||44,997||1st|
|19 October 1991||Arsenal||H||1 – 1||Bruce 44'||46,594||1st|
|26 October 1991||Sheffield Wednesday||A||2 – 3||McClair (2) 17', 22'||38,260||2nd|
|2 November 1991||Sheffield United||H||2 – 0||Hoyland 35' (o.g.), Kanchelskis 78'||42,942||1st|
|16 November 1991||Manchester City||A||0 – 0||38,180||2nd|
|23 November 1991||West Ham United||H||2 – 1||Giggs 15', Robson 42'||47,185||1st|
|30 November 1991||Crystal Palace||A||3 – 1||Webb 26', McClair 57', Kanchelskis 58'||29,017||2nd|
|7 December 1991||Coventry City||H||4 – 0||Bruce 13', Webb 20', McClair 27', Hughes 81'||42,549||2nd|
|15 December 1991||Chelsea||A||3 – 1||Irwin 19', McClair 57', Bruce 61'||23,120||1st|
|26 December 1991||Oldham Athletic||A||6 – 3||Irwin (2) 2', 54', Kanchelskis 43', McClair (2) 56', 59', Giggs 78'||18,947||1st|
|29 December 1991||Leeds United||A||1 – 1||Webb 46'||32,638||1st|
|1 January 1992||Queens Park Rangers||H||1 – 4||McClair 83'||38,554||2nd|
|11 January 1992||Everton||H||1 – 0||Kanchelskis 56'||46,619||1st|
|18 January 1992||Notts County||A||1 – 1||Blackmore 70' (pen.)||21,055||2nd|
|22 January 1992||Aston Villa||H||1 – 0||Hughes 48'||45,022||1st|
|1 February 1992||Arsenal||A||1 – 1||McClair 27'||41,703||2nd|
|8 February 1992||Sheffield Wednesday||H||1 – 1||McClair 12'||47,074||1st|
|22 February 1992||Crystal Palace||H||2 – 0||Hughes (2) 11', 51'||46,347||1st|
|26 February 1992||Chelsea||H||1 – 1||Hughes 87'||44,872||1st|
|29 February 1992||Coventry City||A||0 – 0||23,967||1st|
|14 March 1992||Sheffield United||A||2 – 1||McClair 62', Blackmore 82'||30,183||2nd|
|18 March 1992||Nottingham Forest||A||0 – 1||28,062||2nd|
|21 March 1992||Wimbledon||H||0 – 0||45,428||2nd|
|28 March 1992||Queens Park Rangers||A||0 – 0||22,603||2nd|
|31 March 1992||Norwich City||A||3 – 1||Ince (2) 41', 58', McClair 66'||17,489||1st|
|7 April 1992||Manchester City||H||1 – 1||Giggs 20'||46,781||1st|
|16 April 1992||Southampton||H||1 – 0||Kanchelskis 65'||43,972||1st|
|18 April 1992||Luton Town||A||1 – 1||Sharpe 25'||13,410||1st|
|20 April 1992||Nottingham Forest||H||1 – 2||McClair 36'||47,576||2nd|
|22 April 1992||West Ham United||A||0 – 1||24,197||2nd|
|26 April 1992||Liverpool||A||0 – 2||38,669||2nd|
|2 May 1992||Tottenham Hotspur||H||3 – 1||McClair 37', Hughes (2) 57', 59'||44,595||2nd|
Pld = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; GF = Goals for; GA = Goals against; GD = Goal difference; Pts = Points
|Date||Round||Opponents||H / A||Result
F – A
|15 January 1992||Round 3||Leeds United||A||1 – 0||Hughes 44'||31,819|
|27 January 1992||Round 4||Southampton||A||0 – 0||19,506|
|5 February 1992||Round 4
|Southampton||H||2 – 2 (a.e.t.)
(2 – 4p)
|Kanchelskis 42', McClair 90'||33,414|
|Date||Round||Opponents||H / A||Result
F – A
|26 September 1991||Round 2
|Cambridge United||H||3 – 0||Giggs 44', McClair 48', Bruce 66'||30,934|
|9 October 1991||Round 2
|Cambridge United||A||1 – 1||McClair 2'||9,248|
|30 October 1991||Round 3||Portsmouth||H||3 – 1||Robins (2) 59', 89', Robson 74'||29,543|
|4 December 1991||Round 4||Oldham Athletic||H||2 – 0||McClair 1', Kanchelskis 25'||38,550|
|8 January 1992||Round 5||Leeds United||A||3 – 1||Blackmore 31', Kanchelskis 51', Giggs 56'||28,886|
|4 March 1992||Semi-final
|Middlesbrough||A||0 – 0||25,572|
|11 March 1992||Semi-final
|Middlesbrough||H||2 – 1 (a.e.t.)||Sharpe 29', Giggs 106'||45,875|
|12 April 1992||Final||Nottingham Forest||N||1 – 0||McClair 14'||76,810|
Cup Winners' Cup
|Date||Round||Opponents||H / A||Result
F – A
|18 September 1991||First round
|Athinaikos||A||0 – 0||5,400|
|2 October 1991||First round
|Athinaikos||H||2 – 0 (a.e.t.)||Hughes 109', McClair 111'||35,023|
|23 October 1991||Second round
|Atlético Madrid||A||0 – 3||40,000|
|6 November 1991||Second round
|Atlético Madrid||H||1 – 1||Hughes 4'||39,654|
UEFA Super Cup
|Date||Opponents||H / A||Result
F – A
|19 November 1991||Red Star Belgrade||H||1 – 0||McClair 67'||22,110|
|Pos.||Name||League||FA Cup||Rumbelows Cup||Europe||Other||Total|
|6 August 1991||DF||Paul Parker||Queens Park Rangers||£1.7m|
|6 August 1991||GK||Peter Schmeichel||Brøndby||£625k|
|5 August 1991||FW||Deiniol Graham||Barnsley||£50k|
|6 February 1992||GK||Jim Leighton||Dundee||£200k|
|19 March 1992||DF||Jason Lydiate||Bolton Wanderers||Undisclosed|
|30 June 1992||MF||Mark Gordon||Released||Free|
|30 June 1992||MF||Paul Gough||Released||Free|
|30 June 1992||FW||Andy Noone||Released||Free|
|30 June 1992||MF||Paul Sixsmith||Preston North End||Undisclosed|
|30 June 1992||MF||Peter Smyth||Released||Free|
|30 June 1992||DF||Leonard Taylor||Released||Free|
|30 June 1992||MF||Paul Wratten||Hartlepool United||Undisclosed|
|Date from||Date to||Position||Name||From|
|1 March 1992||1 May 1992||MF||Andy Arnott||Gillingham|
|Date from||Date to||Position||Name||To|
|12 September 1991||12 December 1991||DF||Derek Brazil||Swansea City|
|29 November 1991||29 February 1992||GK||Jim Leighton||Reading|
|19 December 1991||19 January 1992||MF||Russell Beardsmore||Blackburn Rovers|
|24 December 1991||10 April 1992||DF||Brian Carey||Wrexham|
|16 January 1992||21 February 1992||DF||Neil Whitworth||Preston North End|
|21 February 1992||10 April 1992||DF||Neil Whitworth||Barnsley|
Events of the season
Five years after becoming manager of Manchester United, Alex Ferguson finally enjoyed much-awaited success at the club. In 1990, he ended his fourth season in charge with FA Cup glory that ended the club's five-year trophy drought, and followed it up a year later with European Cup Winners' Cup glory. He now prepared his squad for an assault on the league title that had not been United's since 1967, when Matt Busby had been manager and the likes of Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and George Best were in the team.
Ferguson made two major signings in the close season. He boosted his defence with a £1.75 million move for Queens Park Rangers and England right-back Paul Parker, with the previous season's first choice right-back Denis Irwin being switched to left-back – the position that Clayton Blackmore and Lee Martin had spent the last couple of seasons competing for.
With Les Sealey and Mark Bosnich gone, Jim Leighton almost a forgotten man after just one appearance the previous season, and Gary Walsh seemingly not good enough to be first choice goalkeeper, Ferguson paid £500,000 for Brøndby and Denmark goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel. He now had a squad that few if any clubs in the First Division could match. As well as having established stars like Steve Bruce, Gary Pallister, Bryan Robson and Mark Hughes at his disposal, there was plenty of young talent on the way up at Old Trafford. 20-year-old winger Lee Sharpe's impressive displays in 1990–91 had earned him the PFA Young Player of the Year award, and there was much hype surrounding 17-year-old winger Ryan Giggs, who had made his debut the previous season and scored in only his second senior game. When Giggs turned professional the previous November, he was billed as the next George Best, though it still seemed that it would be a while before he would become a first team regular.
On 11 August, Sir Matt Busby, 82-year-old club president and former team manager, earned around £250,000 in gate receipts from his testimonial in which Manchester United drew 1–1 with a Republic of Ireland XI at Old Trafford.
Six days later, Manchester United began their league campaign with a 2–0 home win over newly promoted Notts County in the First Division. By 7 September, they had opened up a four-point lead over Leeds United at the top of the First Division by winning 3–0 against Norwich City at Old Trafford.
Later that month, they began their defence of the European Cup Winners' Cup with a 0–0 draw with Athinaikos in Greece in the first round first leg. There were ugly scenes on the night of the game, leading to five Manchester United supporters receiving £1,500 fines and seven-month prison sentences for their involvement in a Greek bar brawl.
Before the end of September, they began their quest for Football League Cup glory with a 3–0 home win over Cambridge United in the second round first leg.
The following week, they progressed to the next stage of the European Cup Winners' Cup with a 2–0 win over Athinaikos in the first round second leg at Old Trafford, four days before a goalless draw with Liverpool at Old Trafford, in which United's Mark Hughes and Liverpool's Gary Ablett were both sent off.
On 23 October, Manchester United's hopes of retaining the European Cup Winners' Cup received a massive blow when they lost 3–0 to Spanish club Atlético Madrid in the second round first leg.
Before the month had ended, they ensured that their League Cup quest remained alive by beating Portsmouth 3–1 in the third round at Old Trafford. Mark Robins, the striker whose first team chances were becoming increasingly limited due to the strength of the Hughes–McClair partnership, scored twice in the game. By this stage of the season, however, the United player attracting the most attention was Ryan Giggs, still not quite 18 but now United's first choice left winger and the youngest Wales international to date.
On 6 November, United's defence of the European Cup Winners' Cup ended when they could only manage a 1–1 draw at home to Atletico Madrid, meaning that they suffered a 4–1 aggregate defeat. Consolation came from the fact that they remained unbeaten at home in European competitions 35 years after first competing.
There was still European glory for United this season, though with a less significant trophy than before, when on 19 November they clinched the European Super Cup with a 1–0 win over European Cup winners Red Star Belgrade at Old Trafford. The only goal of the game came from Brian McClair.
With Hughes and McClair both now 28 and their long-term future as a top striker partnership looking doubtful, rumours began to circulate in early December that Alex Ferguson was going to bring Southampton's 21-year-old striker Alan Shearer to Old Trafford. Newcastle-born Shearer had been the centre of much speculation and hope since scoring a hat-trick on his Football League debut nearly four years ago at the age of 17, and in 1991–92 had established himself as a regular goalscorer.
Boxing Day was a dramatic day for United, who triumphed 6–3 against local rivals and relegation battlers Oldham Athletic at Boundary Park. Denis Irwin and Brian McClair both scored twice, with the other goals coming from Ryan Giggs and Andrei Kanchelskis, helping United maintain their lead at the top of the league. Three days later, they drew 1–1 with their nearest title contenders Leeds United at Elland Road. However, New Year's Day brought one of United's worst home results ever when they were crushed 4–1 at Old Trafford by Queen's Park Rangers, in a game which also brought them their first home defeat of the season.
United's FA Cup quest began on 15 January when they faced Leeds United at Elland Road, with both teams fighting it out to cancel the other out of the Double race. The game ended in a 1–0 win for Manchester United, with Mark Hughes scoring the only goal of the game. 12 days later, United travelled to the south coast to take on Southampton in the FA Cup fourth round. The game ended in a goalless draw, and was replayed the following week at Old Trafford. The replay ended in a 2–2 draw, with Bryan Robson being denied a goal which would have won the game for United. With the scores still level at the end of extra time, the match went to penalties. Penalty misses from Ryan Giggs and Neil Webb ended their hopes of a unique domestic treble and left them with just the league title and League Cup to challenge for.
The next day, out of favour goalkeeper Jim Leighton headed out of the Old Trafford exit door in a £250,000 move to Dundee, 16 months after making his final United appearance.
At the end of March, by which time United had slowed down in the league and were being pushed hard by Leeds United, defender Gary Pallister was voted PFA Player of the Year, while 18-year-old winger Ryan Giggs was voted PFA Young Player of the Year.
12 April 1992 saw Manchester United win the Football League Cup for the first time in their history with a 1–0 win over Nottingham Forest in the final at Wembley Stadium, in which Brian McClair scored the only goal of the game. It ensured that Peter Schmeichel, Paul Parker, Andrei Kanchelskis and Ryan Giggs gained the first major honours of their English league careers, as well as ensuring United silverware for the third season running.
Eight days later, however, the highest Football League audience of the season saw Manchester United lose 2–1 to Nottingham Forest at home, a result which made winning the title look like an uphill task following a recent downturn in form which saw Leeds United emerge as the stronger side in what had been a two-horse title race for most of the season. However, the team from Yorkshire were a point ahead, and had played a game more. There was still a chance.
That chance came on 22 April, when United travelled to East London to take on a West Ham United side heading for relegation. They had high hopes for the game, only to lose 1–0, a result that left them needing to beat Liverpool at Anfield four days later to stay in the title race.
On 26 April, United lost 2–0 to Liverpool and the title went to a Leeds United side who defeated Sheffield United 3–2. Ironically, the key player in the West Yorkshire club's title glory was Gordon Strachan, who had been sold to them from Manchester United just three years earlier and on his transfer had spoken of his hope that he would soon be able to get his new club promoted to the top flight when his old club were league champions.
After the season ended, Alex Ferguson began his quest to sign a striker in order to address the lack of goals which had cost United the title. One player high on his wish list was Alan Shearer, who had been linked with a move to the club from Southampton since before Christmas, but had decided to wait until the end of the season before deciding on where his future lay.
He also had plenty of strength in reserve as an exciting crop of young players won the FA Youth Cup.
The last game of the season was the last ever in front of the Stretford End terraces, it would be knocked down during the Summer and rebuilt as a modern single tiered stand by the start of the 1993-94 season, and a second tier was consequently added in 2001.
- "Manchester United Season 1991/92". StretfordEnd.co.uk. Retrieved 23 May 2008.