United 96/97

The 1996–97 season was Manchester United’s fifth season in the Premier League, and their 22nd consecutive season in the top division of English football. United clinched the Premier League title with 75 points – placing them seven points ahead of the three teams below them; Newcastle United, Arsenal and Liverpool.
They also reached the European Cup semi-finals, bowing out to eventual winners Borussia Dortmund of Germany, after losing both legs 1–0. Earlier in the competition, they had lost at home in Europe for the first time, with a 1–0 defeat to Fenerbahçe of Turkey in the group stage. Their defence of the FA Cup ended in the Fourth Round replay with a 1–0 defeat to Wimbledon, while their bid for success in the League Cup was short lived as they bowed out to eventual winners Leicester City in the Fourth Round.
New signing Ole Gunnar Solskjær was one of the biggest breakthrough stars in the 1996–97 Premier League season, with 19 goals in all competitions making him the club’s top goalscorer. 22-year-old midfielder David Beckham clinched the PFA Young Player of the Year award in the same season that he won his first England cap. Solskjær’s fellow Norwegian, Ronny Johnsen, proved himself as a fine successor to Steve Bruce in central defence, but £3.5 million Czech winger Karel Poborský failed to win a regular first team place and was one of the Premier League’s biggest disappointments that season. Jordi Cruyff, son of Dutch legend Johan, was similarly disappointing, failing to win a regular first team place despite being able to play in midfield, attack or on the left wing.
Just before the start of the season, winger Lee Sharpe left the club after eight years to sign for Leeds United in a £4.5million deal. Earlier in the summer, captain Steve Bruce had departed to Birmingham City on a free transfer after almost a decade at Old Trafford, while Paul Parker left on a free transfer after his final two seasons at the club had been plagued by injury and the loss of his place in the team to Gary Neville.
The season ended with a major shock as Eric Cantona announced his retirement from playing, prompting manager Alex Ferguson to search for a new striker. The search ended with the £3.5 million capture of Tottenham and England’s 31-year-old Teddy Sheringham.

Pre-season and friendlies

27 July 1996PortadownA5–0Scholes (3) 17′, 19′, 44′, Keane 29′, Beckham 34′6,100
28 July 1996League of Ireland XIN4–1Sharpe 22′, Pallister 26′, Scholes 41′, Cantona 44′7,720
31 July 1996InternazionaleA0–333,578
3 August 1996AjaxN1–2McClair 81′27,427
4 August 1996Nottingham ForestA3–1Beckham 80′, McClair 83′, P. Neville 88′21,760
13 August 1996InternazionaleH0–130,266
15 April 1997CelticH1–2Keane 44′43,743
16 May 1997Coventry City XIA2–2Cantona (2) 69′ (pen.), 86′23,325

FA Charity Shield

11 August 1996Newcastle UnitedN4–0Cantona 25′, Butt 30′, Beckham 86′, Keane 88′73,214

FA Premier League

17 August 1996WimbledonA3–0Cantona 25′, Irwin 57′, Beckham 87′25,7861st
21 August 1996EvertonH2–2Cruyff 70′, Unsworth 82′ (o.g.)54,9439th
25 August 1996Blackburn RoversH2–2Cruyff 38′, Solskjær 69′54,1785th
4 September 1996Derby CountyA1–1Beckham 38′18,0264th
7 September 1996Leeds UnitedA4–0Martyn 3′ (o.g.), Butt 49′, Poborský 76′, Cantona 90′39,6945th
14 September 1996Nottingham ForestH4–1Solskjær 22′, Giggs 41′, Cantona (2) 82′, 90′ (pen.)54,9841st
21 September 1996Aston VillaA0–039,3394th
29 September 1996Tottenham HotspurH2–0Solskjær (2) 38′, 57′54,9433rd
12 October 1996LiverpoolH1–0Beckham 23′55,1284th
20 October 1996Newcastle UnitedA0–535,5795th
26 October 1996SouthamptonA3–6Beckham 42′, May 56′, Scholes 89′15,2535th
2 November 1996ChelseaH1–2May 81′55,1986th
16 November 1996ArsenalH1–0Winterburn 62′ (o.g.)55,2106th
23 November 1996MiddlesbroughA2–2Keane 17′, May 73′30,0637th
30 November 1996Leicester CityH3–1Butt (2) 76′, 87′, Solskjær 85′55,1965th
8 December 1996West Ham UnitedA2–2Solskjær 54′, Beckham 75′25,0456th
18 December 1996Sheffield WednesdayA1–1Scholes 61′37,6715th
21 December 1996SunderlandH5–0Solskjær (2) 36′, 48′, Cantona (2) 43′ (pen.), 79′, Butt 58′55,0813rd
26 December 1996Nottingham ForestA4–0Beckham 24′, Butt 44′, Solskjær 67′, Cole 76′29,0323rd
28 December 1996Leeds UnitedH1–0Cantona 9′ (pen.)55,2562nd
1 January 1997Aston VillaH0–055,1333rd
12 January 1997Tottenham HotspurA2–1Solskjær 23′, Beckham 76′33,0263rd
18 January 1997Coventry CityA2–0Giggs 61′, Solskjær 80′23,0852nd
29 January 1997WimbledonH2–1Giggs 75′, Cole 82′55,3142nd
1 February 1997SouthamptonH2–1Pallister 19′, Cantona 79′55,2691st
19 February 1997ArsenalA2–1Cole 18′, Solskjær 32′38,1721st
22 February 1997ChelseaA1–1Beckham 68′28,3361st
1 March 1997Coventry CityH3–1Breen 4′ (o.g.), Jess 5′ (o.g.), Poborský 47′55,2301st
8 March 1997SunderlandA1–2Melville 77′ (o.g.)22,2251st
15 March 1997Sheffield WednesdayH2–0Cole 19′, Poborský 60′55,2671st
22 March 1997EvertonA2–0Solskjær 35′, Cantona 79′40,0791st
5 April 1997Derby CountyH2–3Cantona 47′, Solskjær 76′55,2431st
12 April 1997Blackburn RoversA3–2Cole 32′, Scholes 42′, Cantona 79′30,4761st
19 April 1997LiverpoolA3–1Pallister (2) 13′, 42′, Cole 63′40,8921st
3 May 1997Leicester CityA2–2Solskjær (2) 45′, 52′21,0681st
5 May 1997MiddlesbroughH3–3Keane 34′, G. Neville 42′, Solskjær 67′54,4891st
8 May 1997Newcastle UnitedH0–055,2361st
11 May 1997West Ham UnitedH2–0Solskjær 12′, Cruyff 84′55,2491st
1Manchester United38211257644+3275
2Newcastle United38191187340+3368

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

5 January 1997Round 3Tottenham HotspurH2–0Scholes 51′, Beckham 82′52,445
25 January 1997Round 4WimbledonH1–1Scholes 89′53,342
4 February 1997Round 4

Coca-Cola Cup

23 October 1996Round 3Swindon TownH2–1Poborský 20′, Scholes 72′49,305
27 November 1996Round 4Leicester CityA0–220,428

UEFA Champions League

Group stage

11 September 1996JuventusA0–154,0004th
25 September 1996Rapid WienH2–0Solskjær 20′, Beckham 27′51,8312nd
16 October 1996FenerbahçeA2–0Beckham 55′, Cantona 60′26,2002nd
30 October 1996FenerbahçeH0–153,2972nd
20 November 1996JuventusH0–153,5293rd
4 December 1996Rapid WienA2–0Giggs 24′, Cantona 72′45,0002nd
Manchester United630363+39
Rapid Wien6024212−102

Knockout phase


5 March 1997Quarter-final
First leg
PortoH4–0May 22′, Cantona 34′, Giggs 60′, Cole 80′53,425
19 March 1997Quarter-final
Second leg
9 April 1997Semi-final
First leg
Borussia DortmundA0–148,500
23 April 1997Semi-final
Second leg
Borussia DortmundH0–153,606

Squad statistics

No.CL no.Pos.NameLeagueFA CupCoca-Cola CupEuropeOtherTotal
11GK Peter Schmeichel36030009010490
22DF Gary Neville30(1)130101000(1)044(2)1
33DF Denis Irwin29(2)13000801041(2)1
44DF David May28(1)310207(1)11039(2)4
66DF Gary Pallister27310008010373
77FW Eric Cantona (c)36113000103115015
88MF Nicky Butt24(2)500008(1)01133(3)6
99FW Andy Cole10(10)62(1)0002(3)10014(14)7
1010MF David Beckham33(3)821001021146(3)12
1111MF Ryan Giggs25(1)330006(1)21035(2)5
1228DF Phil Neville15(3)000102(2)01019(5)0
1313MF Brian McClair4(15)01(2)0200(3)0007(20)0
1414MF Jordi Cruyff11(5)300103(1)00(1)015(7)3
1515MF Karel Poborský15(7)320213(3)00(1)022(11)4
1616MF Roy Keane21230206011333
1717GK Raimond van der Gouw200020100050
1812MF Paul Scholes16(8)322210(4)01021(12)6
195DF Ronny Johnsen26(5)02000900037(5)0
2020FW Ole Gunnar Solskjær25(8)180(3)0008(2)10033(13)19
2121DF Pat McGibbon000000000000
2222MF Simon Davies00000(2)000000(2)0
2323MF Ben Thornley1(1)0002000003(1)0
2424DF John O’Kane100010000020
2525GK Kevin Pilkington000000000000
2619DF Chris Casper0(2)010200(1)0003(3)0
27MF Terry Cooke00000(1)000000(1)0
28MF Philip Mulryne000000000000
2918MF Michael Appleton00001(1)000001(1)0
30DF Ronnie Wallwork000000000000
31DF John Curtis000000000000
32DF Michael Clegg3(1)0101000005(1)0
33GK Paul Gibson000000000000