Manchester United 85-86

The 1985–86 season was Manchester United’s 84th season in the Football League, and their 11th consecutive season in the top division of English football.
Despite having won the FA Cup the previous season, the team was unable to compete in the 1985–86 European Cup Winners’ Cup due to the five-year ban on English clubs competing in European competitions that was imposed following the Heysel Stadium disaster at the 1985 European Cup Final. Instead, the clubs who would have qualified for Europe all competed in the Football League Super Cup.
With no European action to distract them, they got off to a 10-match winning start in the league, were unbeaten from their first 15 games, and remained top of the league until the beginning of February, but their dismal post Christmas form dragged them down to a final position of fourth in the league, and there was no success in the cup competitions to fall back on, leading to doubts about the future of Ron Atkinson as manager. He had completed five seasons as manager without them finishing outside the top four and had won two FA Cups, but the wait for a league title was now entering its 20th season.
Media reports linked two managers with a move to Old Trafford: Terry Venables, who had just rejected an offer to return to England from Barcelona to take charge at Arsenal; and Alex Ferguson, whose Aberdeen side had broken the Old Firm dominance of Celtic and Rangers in recent seasons. Despite this speculation, Atkinson remained in charge of United into the following season, but the pressure on him to deliver success to the club remained intense.
The ban on English clubs in European competitions was extended to a second season, meaning that United would not be able to compete in the 1986–87 UEFA Cup.
Mark Hughes was once again United’s top scorer, scoring 17 goals in the league and 18 in all competitions. However, he was less prolific during the second half of the season after scoring 11 times before Christmas, and on 21 March 1986 it was announced that he would be leaving United at the end of the season to sign for FC Barcelona of Spain in a £2million deal. United had already signed Nottingham Forest striker Peter Davenport as his successor. United had signed another striker, Terry Gibson from Coventry City, just after the turn of the new year.
United’s title challenge was also not helped by the fact that captain Bryan Robson was only available for half of the club’s league games this season due to injuries.

FA Charity Shield

DateOpponentsH / AResult
10 August 1985EvertonN0–282,000

First Division

DateOpponentsH / AResult
17 August 1985Aston VillaH4–0Whiteside, Hughes (2), Olsen49,7431st
20 August 1985Ipswich TownA1–0Robson18,7771st
24 August 1985ArsenalA2–1Hughes, McGrath37,1451st
26 August 1985West Ham UnitedH2–0Hughes, Strachan50,7731st
31 August 1985Nottingham ForestA3–1Hughes, Barnes, Stapleton26,2741st
4 September 1985Newcastle UnitedH3–0Stapleton (2), Hughes51,1021st
7 September 1985Oxford UnitedH3–0Whiteside, Robson, Barnes51,8201st
14 September 1985Manchester CityA3–0Robson (pen.), Albiston, Duxbury48,7731st
21 September 1985West Bromwich AlbionA5–1Brazil (2), Strachan, Blackmore, Stapleton25,0681st
28 September 1985SouthamptonH1–0Hughes52,4491st
5 October 1985Luton TownA1–1Hughes17,4541st
12 October 1985Queens Park RangersH2–0Hughes, Olsen48,8451st
19 October 1985LiverpoolH1–1McGrath54,4921st
26 October 1985ChelseaA2–1Olsen, Hughes42,4851st
2 November 1985Coventry CityH2–0Olsen (2)46,7481st
9 November 1985Sheffield WednesdayA0–148,1051st
16 November 1985Tottenham HotspurH0–054,5751st
23 November 1985Leicester CityA0–322,0081st
30 November 1985WatfordH1–1Brazil42,1811st
7 December 1985Ipswich TownH1–0Stapleton37,9811st
14 December 1985Aston VillaA3–1Blackmore, Strachan, Hughes27,6261st
21 December 1985ArsenalH0–144,3861st
26 December 1985EvertonA1–3Stapleton42,5511st
1 January 1986Birmingham CityH1–0C. Gibson43,0951st
11 January 1986Oxford UnitedA3–1Whiteside, Hughes, C. Gibson13,2801st
18 January 1986Nottingham ForestH2–3Olsen (2; 1 pen.)46,7171st
2 February 1986West Ham UnitedA1–2Robson22,6422nd
9 February 1986LiverpoolA1–1C. Gibson35,0642nd
22 February 1986West Bromwich AlbionH3–0Olsen (3; 2 pen.)45,1932nd
1 March 1986SouthamptonA0–119,0122nd
15 March 1986Queens Park RangersA0–123,4073rd
19 March 1986Luton TownH2–0Hughes, McGrath33,6683rd
22 March 1986Manchester CityH2–2C. Gibson, Strachan (pen.)51,2743rd
29 March 1986Birmingham CityA1–1Robson22,5513rd
31 March 1986EvertonH0–051,1893rd
5 April 1986Coventry CityA3–1C. Gibson, Robson, Strachan17,1603rd
9 April 1986ChelseaH1–2Olsen (pen.)45,3553rd
13 April 1986Sheffield WednesdayH0–232,3313rd
16 April 1986Newcastle UnitedA4–2Robson (pen.), Hughes (2), Whiteside31,8403rd
19 April 1986Tottenham HotspurA0–032,3573rd
26 April 1986Leicester CityH4–0Stapleton, Hughes, Blackmore, Davenport (pen.)38,8403rd
3 May 1986WatfordA1–1Hughes18,4144th
3West Ham United42266107440+3484
4Manchester United422210107036+3476
5Sheffield Wednesday422110116354+973

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
9 January 1986Round 3RochdaleH2–0Stapleton, Hughes40,223
25 January 1986Round 4SunderlandA0–035,484
29 January 1986Round 4
SunderlandH3–0Whiteside, Olsen (2; 1 pen.)43,402
5 March 1986Round 5West Ham UnitedA1–1Stapleton26,441
9 March 1986Round 5
West Ham UnitedH0–230,441

Football League Cup

DateRoundOpponentsH / AResult
24 September 1985Round 2
First leg
Crystal PalaceA1–0Barnes21,507
9 October 1985Round 2
Second leg
Crystal PalaceH1–0Whiteside26,118
29 October 1985Round 3West Ham UnitedH1–0Whiteside32,056
26 November 1985Round 4LiverpoolA1–2McGrath41,291

Football League Super Cup

DateRoundOpponentsH / AResult
18 September 1985Group stageEvertonH2–4Robson (pen.), Stapleton33,859
6 November 1985Group stageNorwich CityH1–1Whiteside (pen.)20,130
4 December 1985Group stageEvertonA0–120,542
11 December 1985Group stageNorwich CityA1–1C. Gibson15,449
Group 1
2Norwich City41213305
3Manchester United402247–32

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

Squad statistics

Pos.NameLeagueFA CupLeague CupOtherTotal
GK Gary Bailey250204030340
GK Chris Turner170300020220
DF Arthur Albiston371503030481
DF Clayton Blackmore1232(2)0204020(2)3
DF Mike Duxbury21(2)130302029(2)1
DF Billy Garton100100010120
DF John Gidman240201030300
DF Mark Higgins6020000080
DF Graeme Hogg170002020210
DF Paul McGrath403404150534
DF John Sivebæk2(1)00000002(1)0
MF Mark Dempsey1000001(1)02(1)0
MF Colin Gibson185400021246
MF Kevin Moran18(1)030401026(1)0
MF Remi Moses4000000(1)04(1)0
MF Jesper Olsen25(3)113(2)2303034(5)13
MF Bryan Robson217302021288
MF Gordon Strachan27(1)550103(1)036(2)5
MF Norman Whiteside374514251518
FW Peter Barnes12(1)200312017(1)3
FW Alan Brazil1(10)3002(2)0306(12)3
FW Peter Davenport111000000111
FW Terry Gibson2(5)00000002(5)0
FW Mark Hughes40173120404918
FW Frank Stapleton34(7)752404147(7)10
FW Nicky Wood0(1)00000000(1)0