Manchester United 1972-73

The 1972–73 season was Manchester United’s 71st season in the Football League, and their 28th consecutive season in the top division of English football. For the first and only season United took part in the Anglo-Italian Cup, the 1973 version.
In September 1972, Frank O’Farrell signed Welsh international centre-forward Wyn Davies from Manchester City for a fee of £60,000. The signing paid immediate dividends with Davies scoring on his United debut in a 3-0 win against Derby County. Shortly afterwards, O’Farrell paid Bournemouth, then in the Third Division, a reported £194,445 for the services of striker, Ted MacDougall. Despite these signings, United’s results were poor and on 19 December 1972, Frank O’Farrell was sacked as United manager following a 5–0 defeat at Crystal Palace that had left them in real danger of relegation, with little improvement having been made on United’s dismal nine-match winless start to the league campaign. On the same day, the club’s directors also announced that the errant George Best would not be playing for them again.
Three days later Tommy Docherty was appointed as the new manager, after he resigned from the Scotland national team, and he guided United to survival. He also restored George Best to the team.
United struggled to find goals in the league, only managing 44 from 42 games, with Bobby Charlton – in his final season as a player before retiring – topping the club’s goalscoring charts with a mere six goals in the First Division. Denis Law, who had rarely played this season, was given a free transfer at the end of the campaign after 11 years with the club.

First Division

DateOpponentsH / AResult
F – A
12 August 1972Ipswich TownH1 – 2Law51,459
15 August 1972LiverpoolA0 – 254,779
19 August 1972EvertonA0 – 252,348
23 August 1972Leicester CityH1 – 1Best40,067
26 August 1972ArsenalH0 – 048,108
30 August 1972ChelseaH0 – 044,482
2 September 1972West Ham UnitedA2 – 2Best, Storey-Moore32,372
9 September 1972Coventry CityH0 – 137,073
16 September 1972Wolverhampton WanderersA0 – 234,049
23 September 1972Derby CountyH3 – 0Davies, Morgan, Storey-Moore48,255
30 September 1972Sheffield UnitedA0 – 137,347
7 October 1972West Bromwich AlbionA2 – 2Best, Storey-Moore39,209
14 October 1972Birmingham CityH1 – 0MacDougall52,104
21 October 1972Newcastle UnitedA1 – 2Charlton38,170
28 October 1972Tottenham HotspurH1 – 4Charlton52,497
4 November 1972Leicester CityA2 – 2Best, Davies32,575
11 November 1972LiverpoolH2 – 0Davies, MacDougall53,944
18 November 1972Manchester CityA0 – 352,086
25 November 1972SouthamptonH2 – 1Davies, MacDougall36,073
2 December 1972Norwich CityA2 – 0MacDougall, Storey-Moore35,913
9 December 1972Stoke CityH0 – 241,347
16 December 1972Crystal PalaceA0 – 539,484
23 December 1972Leeds UnitedH1 – 1MacDougall46,382
26 December 1972Derby CountyA1 – 3Storey-Moore35,098
6 January 1973ArsenalA1 – 3Kidd51,194
20 January 1973West Ham UnitedH2 – 2Charlton, Macari50,878
24 January 1973EvertonH0 – 058,970
27 January 1973Coventry CityA1 – 1Holton42,767
10 February 1973Wolverhampton WanderersH2 – 1Charlton (2)52,089
17 February 1973Ipswich TownA1 – 4Macari31,918
3 March 1973West Bromwich AlbionH2 – 1Kidd, Macari46,735
10 March 1973Birmingham CityA1 – 3Macari51,278
17 March 1973Newcastle UnitedH2 – 1Holton, Martin48,426
24 March 1973Tottenham HotspurA1 – 1Graham49,751
31 March 1973SouthamptonA2 – 0Charlton, Holton23,161
7 April 1973Norwich CityH1 – 0Martin48,593
11 April 1973Crystal PalaceH2 – 0Kidd, Morgan46,891
14 April 1973Stoke CityA2 – 2Macari, Morgan37,051
18 April 1973Leeds UnitedA1 – 0Anderson45,450
21 April 1973Manchester CityH0 – 061,676
23 April 1973Sheffield UnitedH1 – 2Kidd57,280
28 April 1973ChelseaA0 – 144,184
18Manchester United4212131744600.73337
19Coventry City421392040550.72735

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

FA Cup

DateRoundOpponentsH / AResult
F – A
13 January 1973Round 3Wolverhampton WanderersA0 – 140,005

League Cup

DateRoundOpponentsH / AResult
F – A
6 September 1972Round 2Oxford UnitedA2 – 2Law, Charlton16,560
12 September 1972Round 2
Oxford UnitedH3 – 1Best (2), Storey-Moore21,486
3 October 1972Round 3Bristol RoversA1 – 1Morgan33,597
11 October 1972Round 3
Bristol RoversH1 – 2McIlroy29,348

Anglo-Italian Cup

DateOpponentsH / AResult
F – A
21 February 1973FiorentinaH1 – 1Holton23,951
21 March 1973LazioA0 – 052,834
4 April 1973BariH3 – 1Law, Storey-Moore, Martin14,303
2 May 1973VeronaA4 – 1Charlton (2), Olney, Fletcher8,168

Squad statistics

Pos.NameLeagueFA CupLeague CupTotal
GK Alex Stepney3801040430
GK Jimmy Rimmer40000040
DF Martin Buchan4201040470
DF Ian Donald40001050
DF Tony Dunne2400(1)03027(1)0
DF Paul Edwards10000010
DF Alex Forsyth80100090
DF Jim Holton1530000153
DF Steve James2200040260
DF Tommy O’Neil1600010170
DF David Sadler1901020220
DF Arnie Sidebottom20000020
DF Willie Watson30001040
DF Tony Young28(2)0103032(2)0
MF George Best1940042236
MF Bobby Charlton34(2)6104139(2)7
MF John Fitzpatrick50001060
MF George Graham1811000191
MF Mick Martin14(2)2000014(2)2
MF Sammy McIlroy4(6)0000(3)14(9)1
FW Trevor Anderson2(5)100002(5)1
FW Wyn Davies15(1)4100016(1)4
FW Paul Fletcher0(2)000000(2)0
FW Brian Kidd17(5)4102020(5)4
FW Denis Law9(2)1102012(2)1
FW Lou Macari1650000165
FW Ted MacDougall1850000185
FW Willie Morgan3941040444
FW Ian Storey-Moore2650041306
Own goals0000