Manchester United 86-87

The 1986–87 season was Manchester United’s 85th season in the Football League, and their 12th consecutive season in the top division of English football.
The pressure on manager Ron Atkinson after last season’s failed title challenge remained strong after United lost their opening three games of the season, and despite some decent results in the following few weeks, United bowed out of the League Cup in a fourth round replay defeat at Southampton, prompting the dismissal of Atkinson on 6 November 1986 after more than five years in charge.
Alex Ferguson was confirmed as Atkinson’s successor within hours, recruited from Scottish side Aberdeen, where he had enjoyed considerable success in the previous seven years. United recovered well in the league after his appointment and finished 11th, managing to scratch up some impressive results including winning both of their league clashes with Liverpool (results which helped deprive Kenny Dalglish’s side of the league title), a 4–1 home win over Newcastle United on New Year’s Day 1987, a 2–0 home win over a resurgent Arsenal and a 2–0 win at Old Trafford in the Manchester derby which helped push City towards relegation. Their win at Liverpool also made them the only team to win at Liverpool in the league all season.
However, United were prevented from finishing even higher in the league by a few disappointing results after Ferguson’s arrival, beginning with a 2–0 defeat in their first game under Ferguson at Oxford United, losing both of their clashes with newly promoted Wimbledon, being beaten at Old Trafford by Norwich City just after Christmas and suffering a 4–0 defeat at Tottenham near the end of the season, although by the time of the Tottenham game it was mathematically impossible for United to either win the title or suffer relegation (there was no prospect of European qualification due to the ongoing ban on English clubs in Europe following the Heysel disaster two years earlier). United also failed to win any another away games in the league apart from the visit to Liverpool on Boxing Day.
United’s improvement under Ferguson during the season was achieved without making any major signings, although it was widely expected that he would spend heavily on new players during the 1987 close season. He went on to pay Celtic £850,000 for high-scoring striker Brian McClair. He strengthened the defence by paying Arsenal £250,000 for experienced full-back Viv Anderson. Unsuccessful bids were also made for several other players: Ferguson expressed an interest in bringing striker Mark Hateley back to England from Milan, but the player opted to remain overseas and signed for AS Monaco instead. He also made a bid to bring Peter Beardsley back to the club from Newcastle United, but the England international forward instead joined Liverpool for a British record fee. Ferguson was offered the chance to sign Watford winger John Barnes, but declined to make an approach for the player due to his faith in Jesper Olsen in the same position.

Pre-season and friendlies

DateOpponentsH / AResult
6 August 1986FluminenseH0–0
8 August 1986Dynamo KyivN1–1
10 August 1986AjaxA0–123,000
14 August 1986Shamrock RoversA0–210,200
17 August 1986Real SociedadH1–1Blackmore12,826
2 September 1986HeartsA2–2Olsen (pen.), T. Gibson10,438
10 September 1986LinfieldA3–0Robson (2), Davenport10,919
15 December 1986GCC All-StarsN1–0Whiteside4,000
21 January 1987Red Star BelgradeH0–110,652
24 February 1987Swansea CityA3–1T. Gibson, Whiteside, Davenport6,467
18 March 1987Shamrock RoversA1–2Robson8,000
25 March 1987CelticA0–136,000
10 May 1987England XIH7–2Hughes (4; 1 pen.), Martin, Gibson, Bond (o.g.)16,907
16 May 1987Naxxar LionsN9–0Whiteside (3), O’Brien (2), Blackmore, Davenport (pen.), Duxbury, Stapleton4,000

First Division

DateOpponentsH / AResult
23 August 1986ArsenalA0–141,38215th
25 August 1986West Ham UnitedH2–3Stapleton 40′, Davenport 46′43,30618th
30 August 1986Charlton AthleticH0–137,54421st
6 September 1986Leicester CityA1–1Whiteside 52′16,78522nd
13 September 1986SouthamptonH5–1Olsen 22′ (pen.), Davenport 25′, Stapleton (2) 36′, 83′, Whiteside 53′40,13519th
16 September 1986WatfordA0–121,65019th
21 September 1986EvertonA1–3Robson 12′25,84321st
28 September 1986ChelseaH0–133,34021st
4 October 1986Nottingham ForestA1–1Robson 73′34,82821st
11 October 1986Sheffield WednesdayH3–1Davenport (2) 35′ (pen.), 85′, Whiteside 83′45,89020th
18 October 1986Luton TownH1–0Stapleton 9′39,92719th
25 October 1986Manchester CityA1–1Stapleton 47′32,44020th
1 November 1986Coventry CityH1–1Davenport 31′36,94619th
8 November 1986Oxford UnitedA0–213,54520th
15 November 1986Norwich CityA0–022,68421st
22 November 1986Queens Park RangersH1–0Sivebæk 32′42,23517th
29 November 1986WimbledonA0–112,11217th
7 December 1986Tottenham HotspurH3–3Whiteside 11′, Davenport (2) 36′, 88′ (pen.)35,95716th
13 December 1986Aston VillaA3–3Davenport (2) 18′, 55′, Whiteside 54′29,20517th
20 December 1986Leicester CityH2–0C. Gibson 11′, Stapleton 67′34,15015th
26 December 1986LiverpoolA1–0Whiteside 78′40,66314th
27 December 1986Norwich CityH0–144,61015th
1 January 1987Newcastle UnitedH4–1P. Jackson 4′ (o.g.), Whiteside 9′, Stapleton 56′, Olsen 90′43,33414th
3 January 1987SouthamptonA1–1Olsen 11′20,40913th
24 January 1987ArsenalH2–0Strachan 55′, T. Gibson 90′51,36713th
7 February 1987Charlton AthleticA0–015,48213th
14 February 1987WatfordH3–1McGrath 26′, Davenport 48′ (pen.), Strachan 65′35,76311th
21 February 1987ChelseaA1–1Davenport 61′ (pen.)26,51612th
28 February 1987EvertonH0–047,42112th
7 March 1987Manchester CityH2–0Reid 62′ (o.g.), Robson 85′48,61910th
14 March 1987Luton TownA1–2Robson 88′12,50913th
21 March 1987Sheffield WednesdayA0–129,88813th
28 March 1987Nottingham ForestH2–0McGrath 12′, Robson 44′39,18212th
4 April 1987Oxford UnitedH3–2Davenport (2) 25′, 35′, Robson 90′32,44311th
14 April 1987West Ham UnitedA0–023,48611th
18 April 1987Newcastle UnitedA1–2Strachan 41′32,70612th
20 April 1987LiverpoolH1–0Davenport 88′54,10311th
25 April 1987Queens Park RangersA1–1Strachan 49′17,41411th
2 May 1987WimbledonH0–131,68611th
4 May 1987Tottenham HotspurA0–436,69211th
6 May 1987Coventry CityA1–1Whiteside 25′23,40711th
9 May 1987Aston VillaH3–1Blackmore 55′, Duxbury 63′, Robson 65′35,17911th
10Coventry City421712135045+563
11Manchester United421414145245+756

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
10 January 1987Round 3Manchester CityH1–0Whiteside 66′54,294
31 January 1987Round 4Coventry CityH0–149,082

League Cup

DateRoundOpponentsH / AResult
24 September 1986Round 2
First leg
Port ValeH2–0Stapleton 51′, Whiteside 81′18,906
7 October 1986Round 2
Second leg
Port ValeA5–2Stapleton 34′, Barnes 71′, Moses (2) 75′, 89′, Davenport 77′ (pen.)10,486
29 October 1986Round 3SouthamptonH0–023,639
4 November 1986Round 3

Squad statistics

Pos.NameLeagueFA CupLittlewoods CupTotal
GK Gary Bailey50000050
GK Chris Turner2302040290
GK Gary Walsh1400000140
DF Arthur Albiston19(3)0004023(3)0
DF Clayton Blackmore10(2)1100011(2)1
DF Mike Duxbury3212030371
DF Billy Garton902000110
DF Colin Gibson2411010261
DF Graeme Hogg1100020130
DF Paul McGrath34(1)20(1)04038(2)2
DF Kevin Moran32(1)0202(1)036(2)0
DF John Sivebæk27(1)1201030(1)1
MF Peter Barnes70002191
MF Tony Gill10000010
MF Remi Moses17(1)0004221(1)2
MF Liam O’Brien9(2)000009(2)0
MF Jesper Olsen22(6)3201(1)025(7)3
MF Bryan Robson29(1)7003032(1)7
MF Gordon Strachan33(1)4202037(1)4
FW Peter Davenport34(5)141(1)04239(6)16
FW Terry Gibson12(4)11(1)00(2)013(7)1
FW Frank Stapleton25(9)7204231(9)9
FW Norman Whiteside318213(1)136(1)10
FW Nicky Wood20000(1)02(1)0