United 90-91

The 1990–91 season was Manchester United’s 89th season in the Football League, and their 16th consecutive season in the top division of English football.
After winning the FA Cup the previous year to end a five-year trophy drought and claim their first major trophy under the management of Alex Ferguson, United went on to achieve more success by lifting the European Cup Winners’ Cup – their first major trophy since their European Cup triumph 23 years earlier – by beating Barcelona 2–1 in Rotterdam, with Mark Hughes scoring both goals. It was the first season back in European competitions for English clubs following the lifting of the ban which had been imposed back in 1985 due to the Heysel Stadium disaster.
Hughes was voted PFA Player of the Year, while promising young winger Lee Sharpe was voted PFA Young Player of the Year. Fellow winger Ryan Giggs, aged 17 and said to be the club’s finest young prospect since George Best, signed a professional contract in late November, and soon broke into the first team, making two league appearances and scoring one goal. A new arrival at the club was full-back Denis Irwin, signed from Oldham Athletic for a fee of £625,000 in the close season. Following his impressive performance in the previous season’s FA Cup final replay, Les Sealey’s loan move became permanent on a one-year contract, and he was the club’s first choice goalkeeper for the season, but left on a free transfer at the season’s end and signed for Aston Villa.
United also reached the League Cup final for the second time, but suffered a shock defeat to Sheffield Wednesday (managed by former United boss Ron Atkinson). In the league, United improved upon the previous season’s 13th-place finish, but erratic form meant that they failed to mount a title challenge and finished sixth and were below neighbours Manchester City for the first time in more than a decade. Their defence of the FA Cup ended in the Fifth Round when they lost 2–1 to Norwich City.
Assistant manager Archie Knox resigned late in the campaign to take the same role at Rangers, and was replaced by Brian Kidd.
It was the final season at Old Trafford for veteran defender Viv Anderson, who had failed to reclaim his place in the first team and was sold to Sheffield Wednesday in January 1991. Winger Ralph Milne, who had not played a first team game for the club for nearly two years, was given a free transfer at the end of the season. Colin Gibson, who had rarely been selected since the 1988-89 season, was sold to Leicester City just before Christmas.
Goalkeeper Gary Walsh, who stood in for the injured Les Sealey in several late season games, made his first appearances for United in three years.
Lee Martin, the hero of the previous season’s FA Cup final, suffered a back injury and appeared in less than half of the season’s games, as Alex Ferguson chose Denis Irwin as his regular right-back and Clayton Blackmore as his regular left-back. Striker Mark Robins, another star of the cup run, had a less successful season, with fewer first team opportunities and just five goals in all competitions, despite some promising performances in the autumn.

Pre-season and friendlies

DateOpponentsH / AResult
1 August 1990BuryA0–07,162
3 August 1990Cork CityA0–08,000
5 August 1990Waterford UnitedA4–0Hughes, Anderson, Robins, Sharpe4,750
8 August 1990Derry CityA1–1Robins9,710
11 August 1990Irish LeagueN3–0McClair, Hughes, Wallace10,037
13 August 1990BohemiansA3–0Robins (2), Wallace13,878
15 August 1990RangersA1–0Beardsmore31,818
20 November 1990CelticH1–3Hughes41,658

FA Charity Shield

DateOpponentsH / AResult
18 August 1990LiverpoolN1–1Blackmore 44′66,558

First Division

DateOpponentsH / AResult
25 August 1990Coventry CityH2–0Bruce 57′, Webb 70′46,7154th
28 August 1990Leeds UnitedA0–029,1743rd
1 September 1990SunderlandA1–2McClair 70′26,1056th
4 September 1990Luton TownA1–0Robins 24′12,5764th
8 September 1990Queens Park RangersH3–1McClair 3′, Robins (2) 62′, 81′43,4273rd
16 September 1990LiverpoolA0–435,7266th
22 September 1990SouthamptonH3–2McClair 20′, Blackmore 61′, Hughes 62′41,2883rd
29 September 1990Nottingham ForestH0–146,7665th
20 October 1990ArsenalH0–147,3227th
27 October 1990Manchester CityA3–3Hughes 37′, McClair (2) 80′, 83′36,4276th
3 November 1990Crystal PalaceH2–0Webb 11′, Wallace 19′45,7246th
10 November 1990Derby CountyA0–021,1156th
17 November 1990Sheffield UnitedH2–0Bruce 65′, Hughes 86′45,9036th
25 November 1990ChelseaH2–3Wallace 23′, Hughes 72′37,8367th
1 December 1990EvertonA1–0Sharpe 64′32,4007th
8 December 1990Leeds UnitedH1–1Webb 49′40,9477th
15 December 1990Coventry CityA2–2Hughes 5′, Wallace 89′17,1069th
22 December 1990WimbledonA3–1Bruce (2) 69′ (pen.), 88′ (pen.), Hughes 80′9,6447th
26 December 1990Norwich CityH3–0Hughes 54′, McClair (2) 69′, 90′39,8016th
29 December 1990Aston VillaH1–1Bruce 17′ (pen.)47,4856th
1 January 1991Tottenham HotspurA2–1Bruce 37′ (pen.), McClair 90′29,3995th
12 January 1991SunderlandH3–0Hughes (2) 8′, 41′, McClair 15′45,3945th
19 January 1991Queens Park RangersA1–1Phelan 83′18,5445th
3 February 1991LiverpoolH1–1Bruce 26′ (pen.)43,6905th
26 February 1991Sheffield UnitedA1–2Blackmore 52′ (pen.)27,5705th
2 March 1991EvertonH0–245,6565th
9 March 1991ChelseaA2–3Hughes 33′, McClair 62′22,8186th
13 March 1991SouthamptonA1–1Ince 57′15,7015th
16 March 1991Nottingham ForestA1–1Blackmore 38′23,8595th
23 March 1991Luton TownH4–1Bruce (2) 7′, 47′, Robins 70′, McClair 83′41,7525th
30 March 1991Norwich CityA3–0Bruce (2) 18′, 74′ (pen.), Ince 30′18,2825th
2 April 1991WimbledonH2–1Bruce 54′, McClair 88′36,6605th
6 April 1991Aston VillaA1–1Sharpe 63′33,3075th
16 April 1991Derby CountyH3–1Blackmore 22′, McClair 66′, Robson 85′32,7764th
4 May 1991Manchester CityH1–0Giggs 22′45,2866th
6 May 1991ArsenalA1–3Bruce 90′ (pen.)40,2296th
11 May 1991Crystal PalaceA0–325,3016th
20 May 1991Tottenham HotspurH1–1Ince 7′46,7916th
5Manchester City381711106453+1162
6Manchester United381612105845+1359[2]

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
7 January 1991Round 3Queens Park RangersH2–1Hughes 19′, McClair 74′35,065
26 January 1991Round 4Bolton WanderersH1–0Hughes 79′43,293
18 February 1991Round 5Norwich CityA1–2McClair 37′23,058

League Cup

DateRoundOpponentsH / AResult
26 September 1990Round 2
First leg
Halifax TownA3–1Blackmore 25′, McClair 87′, Webb 88′6,841
10 October 1990Round 2
Second leg
Halifax TownH2–1Bruce 42′ (pen.), Anderson 58′22,295
31 October 1990Round 3LiverpoolH3–1Bruce 36′ (pen.), Hughes 37′, Sharpe 81′42,033
28 November 1990Round 4ArsenalA6–2Blackmore 2′, Hughes 44′, Sharpe (3) 44′, 75′, 78′, Wallace 81′40,844
16 January 1991Round 5SouthamptonA1–1Hughes 78′21,101
23 January 1991Round 5
SouthamptonH3–2Hughes (3) 51′, 61′, 79′41,903
10 February 1991Semi-final
First leg
Leeds UnitedH2–1Sharpe 67′, McClair 80′34,050
24 February 1991Semi-final
Second leg
Leeds UnitedA1–0Sharpe 90′32,014
21 April 1991FinalSheffield WednesdayN0–177,612

Cup Winners’ Cup

DateRoundOpponentsH / AResult
19 September 1990Round 1
First leg
Pécsi MunkásH2–0Blackmore 9′, Webb 17′28,411
3 October 1990Round 1
Second leg
Pécsi MunkásA1–0McClair 77′17,000
23 October 1990Round 2
First leg
WrexhamH3–0McClair 40′, Bruce 42′ (pen.), Pallister 59′29,405
7 November 1990Round 2
Second leg
WrexhamA2–0Robins 31′, Bruce 35′13,327
6 March 1991Quarter-finals
First leg
MontpellierH1–1McClair 1′41,942
19 March 1991Quarter-finals
Second leg
MontpellierA2–0Blackmore 2′, Bruce 47′ (pen.)18,000
10 April 1991Semi-finals
First leg
Legia WarsawA3–1McClair 36′, Hughes 54′, Bruce 67′20,000
24 April 1991Semi-finals
Second leg
Legia WarsawH1–1Sharpe 28′44,269
15 May 1991FinalBarcelonaN2–1Hughes (2) 68′, 75′50,000

Squad statistics

Pos.NameLeagueFA CupRumbelows CupEuropeOtherTotal
GK Mark Bosnich200000000020
GK Jim Leighton000010000010
GK Les Sealey31030808010510
GK Gary Walsh500000100060
DF Viv Anderson100011100031
DF Clayton Blackmore35430929211579
DF Steve Bruce3113307284105019
DF Mal Donaghy17(8)0003(4)02(3)01023(15)0
DF Denis Irwin33(1)0307(1)0601050(2)0
DF Lee Martin7(7)0102(2)03(2)00013(11)0
DF Gary Pallister36030909110581
DF Neil Whitworth100000000010
MF Russell Beardsmore5(7)000101(1)0007(8)0
MF Darren Ferguson2(3)0000000002(3)0
MF Ryan Giggs1(1)1000000001(1)1
MF Paul Ince31320607010473
MF Andrei Kanchelskis100000000010
MF Mike Phelan30(3)1107(1)0801047(4)1
MF Bryan Robson15(2)13050400027(2)1
MF Lee Sharpe20(3)230766(2)10036(5)9
MF Neil Webb31(1)32071610046(1)5
MF Paul Wratten0(2)0000000000(2)0
FW Mark Hughes29(2)1032967(1)31049(3)21
FW Brian McClair34(2)133292941056(2)21
FW Mark Robins7(12)40(1)00(3)02(1)10(1)09(18)5
FW Danny Wallace13(6)30(1)01(3)12(1)01017(11)4