The 2002–03 season was Manchester United’s 11th season in the Premier League, and their 28th consecutive season in the top division of English football. This season saw the club finish at the top of the Premier League table, after their lowest finish in the history of the Premier League the previous season, when they came third. In order to win the title, the team had to pull Arsenal back from an eight-point lead at the beginning of March. United also finished as runners-up in the League Cup, with Liverpool eventually taking the prize. The club also broke the English transfer record for the third time in just over a year as they paid £29.1 million for Leeds United defender Rio Ferdinand.

At the end of the season, United midfielder David Beckham decided to move to Real Madrid in a £25 million deal, having spent 12 years at United (eight of them as a first-team regular). Meanwhile, 37-year-old centre-back Laurent Blanc announced his retirement from playing. Fellow centre-back David May was finally given a free transfer after nine years at the club, the last five of which had seen his first team opportunities limited to a handful of appearances.

 

Pre-season and friendlies

Date Opponents H/A Result
F–A
Scorers Attendance
20 July 2002 Shelbourne A 5–0 Van Nistelrooy (3) 17′, 20′, 63′, Forlán 22′, Yorke 60′ 10,000
27 July 2002 Chesterfield A 5–0 Blanc 19′, Van Nistelrooy 54′, Forlán 80′, Keane 83′, Richardson 86′ 6,583
27 July 2002 Bournemouth A 3–2 Verón 33′, Muirhead 61′, Stewart 66′ 8,104
30 July 2002 Vålerenga A 2–1 Solskjær 26′ (pen.), Keane 84′ 25,572
2 August 2002 Ajax A 1–2 Scholes 78′ 48,000
4 August 2002 Parma N 3–0 Giggs 23′, Verón 50′, Solskjær 55′ 48,000
6 August 2002 Aarhus XI A 5–0 Van Nistelrooy (2) 44′, 80′, Solskjær 71′, Giggs 81′, Forlán 87′ 20,500
10 August 2002 Boca Juniors H 2–0 Van Nistelrooy (2) 23′, 40′ 56,724

Premier League

Date Opponents H/A Result
F–A
Scorers Attendance League
position
17 August 2002 West Bromwich Albion H 1–0 Solskjær 78′ 67,645 7th
23 August 2002 Chelsea A 2–2 Beckham 26′, Giggs 66′ 41,541 7th
31 August 2002 Sunderland A 1–1 Giggs 7′ 47,586 8th
3 September 2002 Middlesbrough H 1–0 Van Nistelrooy 28′ (pen.) 67,464 4th
11 September 2002 Bolton Wanderers H 0–1 67,623 7th
14 September 2002 Leeds United A 0–1 39,622 10th
21 September 2002 Tottenham Hotspur H 1–0 Van Nistelrooy 62′ (pen.) 67,611 8th
28 September 2002 Charlton Athletic A 3–1 Scholes 54′, Giggs 82′, Van Nistelrooy 90′ 26,630 4th
7 October 2002 Everton H 3–0 Scholes (2) 86′, 90′, Van Nistelrooy 90′ (pen.) 67,629 4th
19 October 2002 Fulham A 1–1 Solskjær 62′ 18,103 4th
26 October 2002 Aston Villa H 1–1 Forlán 77′ 67,619 4th
2 November 2002 Southampton H 2–1 P. Neville 15′, Forlán 85′ 67,691 3rd
9 November 2002 Manchester City A 1–3 Solskjær 7′ 34,649 5th
17 November 2002 West Ham United A 1–1 Van Nistelrooy 38′ 35,049 5th
23 November 2002 Newcastle United H 5–3 Scholes 25′, Van Nistelrooy (3) 38′, 45′, 53′, Solskjær 55′ 67,625 5th
1 December 2002 Liverpool A 2–1 Forlán (2) 63′, 66′ 44,250 4th
7 December 2002 Arsenal H 2–0 Verón 20′, Scholes 72′ 67,650 3rd
14 December 2002 West Ham United H 3–0 Solskjær 15′, Verón 17′, Schemmel 61′ (o.g.) 67,555 2nd
22 December 2002 Blackburn A 0–1 30,475 3rd
26 December 2002 Middlesbrough A 1–3 Giggs 60′ 34,673 3rd
28 December 2002 Birmingham City H 2–0 Forlán 37′, Beckham 73′ 67,640 3rd
1 January 2003 Sunderland H 2–1 Beckham 81′, Scholes 90′ 67,609 2nd
11 January 2003 West Bromwich Albion A 3–1 Van Nistelrooy 8′, Scholes 22′, Solskjær 55′ 27,129 2nd
18 January 2003 Chelsea H 2–1 Scholes 39′, Forlán 90′ 67,606 2nd
1 February 2003 Southampton A 2–0 Van Nistelrooy 15′, Giggs 22′ 32,085 2nd
4 February 2003 Birmingham City A 1–0 Van Nistelrooy 56′ 29,475 2nd
9 February 2003 Manchester City H 1–1 Van Nistelrooy 18′ 67,646 2nd
22 February 2003 Bolton Wanderers A 1–1 Solskjær 90′ 27,409 2nd
5 March 2003 Leeds United H 2–1 Radebe 20′ (o.g.), Silvestre 79′ 67,135 2nd
15 March 2003 Aston Villa A 1–0 Beckham 12′ 42,602 2nd
22 March 2003 Fulham H 3–0 Van Nistelrooy (3) 44′, 68′, 90′ 67,706 2nd
5 April 2003 Liverpool H 4–0 Van Nistelrooy (2) 5′ (pen.), 65′ (pen.), Giggs 78′, Solskjær 90′ 67,639 2nd
12 April 2003 Newcastle United A 6–2 Solskjær 32′, Scholes (3) 34′, 38′, 52′, Giggs 44′, Van Nistelrooy 58′ (pen.) 52,164 1st
16 April 2003 Arsenal A 2–2 Van Nistelrooy 24′, Giggs 63′ 38,164 1st
19 April 2003 Blackburn Rovers H 3–1 Van Nistelrooy 20′, Scholes (2) 42′, 61′ 67,626 1st
26 April 2003 Tottenham Hotspur A 2–0 Scholes 69′, Van Nistelrooy 90′ 36,073 1st
3 May 2003 Charlton Athletic H 4–1 Beckham 11′, Van Nistelrooy (3) 32′, 37′, 52′ 67,721 1st
11 May 2003 Everton A 2–1 Beckham 45′, Van Nistelrooy 79′(pen.) 40,168 1st
Pos Club Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Manchester United 38 25 8 5 74 34 +40 83
2 Arsenal 38 23 9 6 85 42 +43 78
3 Newcastle United 38 21 6 11 63 48 +15 69

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
4 January 2003 Round 3 Portsmouth H 4–1 Van Nistelrooy (2) 5′ (pen.), 82′ (pen.), Beckham 16′, Scholes 89′ 67,222
26 January 2003 Round 4 West Ham United H 6–0 Giggs (2) 8′, 29′, Van Nistelrooy (2) 49′, 58′, P. Neville 50′, Solskjær 69′ 67,181
15 February 2003 Round 5 Arsenal H 0–2 67,209

League Cup

Date Round Opponents H/A Result
F–A
Scorers Attendance
5 November 2002 Round 3 Leicester City H 2–0 Beckham 80′ (pen.), Richardson 90′ 47,848
3 December 2002 Round 4 Burnley A 2–0 Forlán 35′, Solskjær 65′ 22,034
17 December 2002 Round 5 Chelsea H 1–0 Forlán 80′ 57,985
7 January 2003 Semi-final
First leg
Blackburn Rovers H 1–1 Scholes 58′ 62,740
22 January 2003 Semi-final
Second leg
Blackburn Rovers A 3–1 Scholes (2) 30′, 42′, Van Nistelrooy 77′ (pen.) 29,048
2 March 2003 Final Liverpool N 0–2 74,500

UEFA Champions League

Third qualifying round

Date Round Opponents H/A Result
F–A
Scorers Attendance
14 August 2002 Third qualifying round
First leg
Zalaegerszeg A 0–1 40,000
27 August 2002 Third qualifying round
Second leg
Zalaegerszeg H 5–0 Van Nistelrooy (2) 6′, 76′ (pen.), Beckham 15′, Scholes 21′, Solskjær 84′ 66,814

Group stage

Date Opponents H/A Result
F–A
Scorers Attendance Group
position
18 September 2002 Maccabi Haifa H 5–2 Giggs 10′, Solskjær 35′, Verón 46′, Van Nistelrooy 54′, Forlán 89′ (pen.) 63,439 2nd
24 September 2002 Bayer Leverkusen A 2–1 Van Nistelrooy (2) 31′, 44′ 22,500 1st
1 October 2002 Olympiacos H 4–0 Giggs 19′, Verón 26′, Anatolakis 66′ (o.g.), Solskjær 77′ 66,902 1st
23 October 2002 Olympiacos A 3–2 Blanc 21′, Verón 59′, Scholes 84′ 13,220 1st
29 October 2002 Maccabi Haifa A 0–3 22,000 1st
13 November 2002 Bayer Leverkusen H 2–0 Verón 42′, Van Nistelrooy 69′ 66,185 1st
Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
England Manchester United 6 5 0 1 16 8 +8 15
Germany Bayer Leverkusen 6 3 0 3 9 11 −2 9
Israel Maccabi Haifa 6 2 1 3 12 12 0 7
Greece Olympiacos 6 1 1 4 11 17 −6 4

Second group stage

Date Opponents H/A Result
F–A
Scorers Attendance Group
position
26 November 2002 Basel A 3–1 Van Nistelrooy (2) 62′, 63′, Solskjær 68′ 29,501 1st
11 December 2002 Deportivo La Coruña H 2–0 Van Nistelrooy (2) 7′, 55′ 67,014 1st
19 February 2003 Juventus H 2–1 Brown 4′, Van Nistelrooy 85′ 66,703 1st
25 February 2003 Juventus A 3–0 Giggs (2) 15′, 41′, Van Nistelrooy 63′ 59,111 1st
12 March 2003 Basel H 1–1 G. Neville 53′ 66,870 1st
18 March 2003 Deportivo La Coruña A 0–2 25,000 1st
Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
England Manchester United 6 4 1 1 11 5 +6 13
Italy Juventus 6 2 1 3 11 11 0 7
Switzerland Basel 6 2 1 3 5 10 −5 7
Spain Deportivo La Coruña 6 2 1 3 7 8 −1 7

Knockout phase

Date Round Opponents H/A Result
F–A
Scorers Attendance
8 April 2003 Quarter-final
First leg
Real Madrid A 1–3 Van Nistelrooy 52′ 75,000
23 April 2003 Quarter-final
Second leg
Real Madrid H 4–3 Van Nistelrooy 43′, Helguera 52′ (o.g.), Beckham (2) 71′, 85′ 66,708

Squad statistics

No. Pos. Name League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
1 GK France Fabien Barthez 30 0 2 0 4 0 10 0 46 0
2 DF England Gary Neville 19(7) 0 3 0 5 0 8(2) 1 35(9) 1
3 DF England Phil Neville 19(6) 1 2 1 4 0 10(2) 0 35(8) 2
4 MF Argentina Juan Sebastián Verón 21(4) 2 1 0 4(1) 0 11 4 37(5) 6
5 DF France Laurent Blanc 15(4) 0 1 0 0 0 9 1 25(4) 1
6 DF England Rio Ferdinand 27(1) 0 3 0 4 0 11 0 45(1) 0
7 MF England David Beckham 27(4) 6 3 1 5 1 10(3) 3 45(7) 11
8 MF England Nicky Butt 14(4) 0 0(2) 0 0(1) 0 8 0 22(7) 0
10 FW Netherlands Ruud van Nistelrooy 33(1) 25 3 4 4 1 10(1) 14 50(2) 44
11 MF Wales Ryan Giggs 32(4) 8 3 2 4(1) 0 13(2) 4 52(7) 14
13 GK Northern Ireland Roy Carroll 8(2) 0 1 0 2 0 3 0 14(2) 0
14 DF England David May 0(1) 0 0 0 2 0 0(1) 0 2(2) 0
15 MF England Luke Chadwick 0(1) 0 0 0 1 0 0(3) 0 1(4) 0
16 MF Republic of Ireland Roy Keane (c) 19(2) 0 3 0 2 0 6 0 30(2) 0
17 MF Scotland Michael Stewart 0(1) 0 0(1) 0 1 0 0(1) 0 1(3) 0
18 MF England Paul Scholes 31(2) 14 2(1) 1 4(2) 3 9(1) 2 46(6) 20
19 GK Spain Ricardo 0(1) 0 0 0 0 0 3(1) 0 3(2) 0
20 FW Norway Ole Gunnar Solskjær 29(8) 9 1(1) 1 1(3) 1 9(5) 4 40(17) 15
21 FW Uruguay Diego Forlán 7(18) 6 0(2) 0 3(2) 2 5(8) 1 15(30) 9
22 DF Republic of Ireland John O’Shea 26(6) 0 1 0 3 0 12(4) 0 42(10) 0
24 DF England Wes Brown 22 0 1(1) 0 5 0 6 1 34(1) 1
25 MF South Africa Quinton Fortune 5(4) 0 0 0 1 0 3(3) 0 9(7) 0
26 MF England Danny Pugh 0(1) 0 0 0 1 0 1(2) 0 2(3) 0
27 DF France Mikaël Silvestre 34 1 2 0 5 0 13 0 54 1
31 MF Scotland Darren Fletcher 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 0
34 DF England Lee Roche 0(1) 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1(1) 0
37 FW England Danny Webber 0 0 0 0 0 0 0(1) 0 0(1) 0
38 DF England Mark Lynch 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0
40 FW England Daniel Nardiello 0 0 0 0 1 0 0(1) 0 1(1) 0
42 MF England Kieran Richardson 0(2) 0 1 0 0(1) 1 2(3) 0 3(6) 1
43 FW Denmark Mads Timm 0 0 0 0 0 0 0(1) 0 0(1) 0