Manchester United 1980-81

The 1980–81 season was Manchester United’s 79th season in the Football League, and their 6th consecutive season in the top division of English football. It was the last of their four seasons under the management of Dave Sexton, who was sacked after the end of the season after failing to win the club a major trophy. Sexton was succeeded by West Bromwich Albion manager Ron Atkinson.
The club also paid a club record of more than £1 million for Nottingham Forest striker Garry Birtles, but the player was a huge disappointment and ended the season without having scored a single league goal for the club. The club’s top scorer was Joe Jordan, who found the back of the net 15 times.
United were indeed one of the hardest teams to beat in the First Division this season, losing just nine out of 42 games, but they were also held to a draw on 18 occasions. This restricted them to eighth-place finish – not even enough for a UEFA Cup place.

First Division

DateOpponentsH / AResult
16 August 1980MiddlesbroughH3–0Macari, Grimes, Thomas54,394
19 August 1980Wolverhampton WanderersA0–131,955
23 August 1980Birmingham CityA0–028,661
30 August 1980SunderlandH1–1Jovanović51,498
6 September 1980Tottenham HotspurA0–040,995
13 September 1980Leicester CityH5–0Coppell, Grimes, Jovanović (2), Macari43,229
20 September 1980Leeds UnitedA0–032,539
27 September 1980Manchester CityH2–2Coppell, Albiston55,918
4 October 1980Nottingham ForestA2–1Macari, Coppell29,801
8 October 1980Aston VillaH3–3McIlroy (2; 1 pen.), Coppell38,831
11 October 1980ArsenalH0–049,036
18 October 1980Ipswich TownA1–1McIlroy (pen.)28,572
22 October 1980Stoke CityA2–1Jordan, Macari24,534
25 October 1980EvertonH2–0Jordan, Coppell54,260
1 November 1980Crystal PalaceA0–131,449
8 November 1980Coventry CityH0–042,794
12 November 1980Wolverhampton WanderersH0–037,959
15 November 1980MiddlesbroughA1–1Jordan20,606
22 November 1980Brighton & Hove AlbionA4–1Jordan (2), McIlroy, Duxbury23,923
29 November 1980SouthamptonH1–1Jordan47,783
6 December 1980Norwich CityA2–2Bond (o.g.), Coppell18,780
13 December 1980Stoke CityH2–2Macari, Jordan39,568
20 December 1980ArsenalA1–2Macari33,730
26 December 1980LiverpoolH0–057,049
27 December 1980West Bromwich AlbionA1–3Jovanović38,615
10 January 1981Brighton & Hove AlbionH2–1McQueen, Macari42,208
28 January 1981SunderlandA0–231,910
31 January 1981Birmingham CityH2–0Jordan, Macari39,081
7 February 1981Leicester CityA0–126,085
17 February 1981Tottenham HotspurH0–040,642
21 February 1981Manchester CityA0–150,114
28 February 1981Leeds UnitedH0–145,733
7 March 1981SouthamptonA0–122,698
14 March 1981Aston VillaA3–3Jordan (2), McIlroy (pen.)42,182
18 March 1981Nottingham ForestH1–1Burns (o.g.)38,205
21 March 1981Ipswich TownH2–1Thomas, Nicholl46,685
28 March 1981EvertonA1–0Jordan25,856
4 April 1981Crystal PalaceH1–0Duxbury37,954
11 April 1981Coventry CityA2–0Jordan (2)20,201
14 April 1981LiverpoolA1–0McQueen31,276
18 April 1981West Bromwich AlbionH2–1Jordan, Macari44,442
25 April 1981Norwich CityH1–0Jordan40,165
7Nottingham Forest421912116244+1850
8Manchester United42151895136+1548
9Leeds United421710153947−844

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

DateRoundOpponentsH / AResult
3 January 1981Round 3Brighton & Hove AlbionH2–2Duxbury, Thomas42,199
7 January 1981Round 3
Brighton & Hove AlbionA2–0Nicholl, Birtles26,915
24 January 1981Round 4Nottingham ForestA0–134,110

League Cup

DateRoundOpponentsH / AResult
27 August 1980Round 2
First leg
Coventry CityH0–131,656
2 September 1980Round 2
Second leg
Coventry CityA0–118,946


DateRoundOpponentsH / AResult
17 September 1980Round 1
First leg
Widzew ŁódźH1–1McIlroy38,037
1 October 1980Round 1
Second leg
Widzew ŁódźA0–040,000

Squad statistics

Pos.NameLeagueFA CupLeague CupUEFA CupTotal
GK Gary Bailey400302020470
GK Paddy Roche2000000020
DF Arthur Albiston421302020491
DF Martin Buchan260202020320
DF Mike Duxbury27(6)20(2)1001(1)028(9)3
DF Nikola Jovanović194102020244
DF Gordon McQueen112200000132
DF Kevin Moran32010000(1)033(1)0
DF Jimmy Nicholl361312020432
DF Anthony Whelan0(1)00000000(1)0
MF Steve Coppell426302020496
MF Ashley Grimes6(2)20000208(2)2
MF Lou Macari37(1)930201043(1)9
MF Chris McGrath1000000010
MF Sammy McIlroy31(1)510202136(1)6
MF Tom Sloan0(2)0000(1)0000(3)0
MF Mickey Thomas302312020373
MF Ray Wilkins11(2)020000013(2)0
FW Garry Birtles250310000281
FW Jimmy Greenhoff8(1)000201011(1)0
FW Joe Jordan33153000103715
FW Scott McGarvey0(2)00000000(2)0
FW Andy Ritchie3(1)00020005(1)0