Manchester United's nine best moments of 2021

Manchester United fans are looking forward to 2022 under the guidance of Ralf Rangnick.

Who knows who the manager will be in 12 months time but there were plenty of moments to shout about during the past year as 2021 comes to a close.

We’ve picked out nine times United gave us something to shout about during an up-and-down year…

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Record-equalling Southampton win

Back in February, United wracked up a win which has never been bettered by any side in Premier League history.

As with all the moments mentioned here which happened behind closed doors, it was a shame that the fans were not there to see it.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka opened the scoring, before Marcus Rashford, a Jan Bednarek own goal and Edinson Cavani made it 4-0 at half time.

Substitute Anthony Martial bagged a brace in the second period as Scott McTominay, Bruno Fernandes and now-departed Daniel James rounded off the historic win.

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United stun City

In March, United stunned Manchester City with a display of rapid counter-attacking and resolute defending to win 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium.

Bruno Fernandes netted from the penalty spot after just two minutes before Luke Shaw sealed the win with an amazing solo goal.

This was a reminder that United can beat anyone on their best form and that is something that Rangnick will be trying to tap into, not least when the Champions League returns for the knockout rounds.

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Fans face down the Super League

United fans have known what the Glazer family make of them and their club for a number of years but in April, a stark reminder was handed out.

The club signed up to the European Super League, which threatened to make the top of football a closed shop, ring-fencing the income without the need to make the side competitive on the pitch.

United fans led the resistance and the likes of Gary Neville, David Beckham and Eric Cantona also carried the fight which saw the proposal overturned almost as quickly as it appeared.

The episode showed how strong the fans can be when they come together and use their voice and that should be remembered for as long as the Glazers remain the owners.

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United run riot against Roma

United went into half time in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final against Roma 2-1 down but produced a second half masterclass to win 6-2.

Edinson Cavani was outstanding, scoring twice and setting up three more goals as United ran riot.

That set the tone for an aggregate victory which laid Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s semi-final curse to rest and Old Trafford would have been rocking if fans were allowed in at this stage.

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Cavani introduces himself to the fans

May’s meeting with Fulham was the first time United had played in front of fans at Old Trafford for 14 months.

Those supporters had been forced to watch Edinson Cavani remotely up to that point and he wasted no time formally introducing himself to them here.

Cavani produced a stunning first half chip from around the halfway line to send a reduced capacity crowd into raptures.

It is a shame that injuries have this season prevented him from playing more at a packed Old Trafford and it is to be hoped that he has more luck on that front in 2022.

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Varane meets the fans before United thump Leeds

Old Trafford was full for the first game of the season against Leeds but confirmation of Raphael Varane’s signing was dragging on in the days beforehand.

There was no need to panic and the Frenchman was paraded on the pitch before kick-off, to an incredible reception which trumps any social media announcement.

It was a stunning moment and a precursor to United thrashing Leeds at home for the second straight season, running out 5-1 winners.

Bruno Fernandes smashed in a hat-trick and Paul Pogba got four assists but arguably the pass of the day was from Victor Lindelof to lay on Fernandes’ third goal.

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Ronaldo’s return

The afternoon when Ronaldo signed for United just hours after all the signs were that he would be signing for City was special.

The intervening international break built the suspense before his second debut and tickets for that September clash with Newcastle were like golddust.

He started the game and had Old Trafford singing his name when he walked out of the tunnel.

The Portuguese superstar took just over 45 minutes to make his mark, scoring with his first clear chance of the game.

After half-time, Ronaldo strode into space and smashed the ball between the legs of Freddie Woodman to send Old Trafford into raptures before United ran out 4-1 winners.

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Late show against Villarreal

United were heading for a second 1-1 draw against Villarreal within the space of five months going into stoppage time on September 29.

But Ronaldo was signed to make the difference in the big moments and he simply loves scoring in the Champions League.

Ronaldo netted a late, late winner to ignite United’s European campaign and spark wild celebrations on the pitch and in the stands.

He has continued dragging United through in Europe, scoring in all five of the group games he played in but this was the best moment of the lot.

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Rangnick appointed

Everybody of a United persuasion wanted it to work out for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but it was clear for months before he got sacked that his reign was going in the wrong direction.

When United finally made the right decision, they gave themselves a tight turnaround to find a new boss and seemingly committed to two managerial searches within six months.

Given Ed Woodward’s track record, that was cause for concern so it was a pleasant surprise when news of Ralf Rangnick’s impending appointment first emerged.

Rangnick looks set to finally offer United a clearly defined philosophy and has already set about putting his stamp on the club and the team.

The German could well stay on beyond the end of the season in the dugout; at the very least, he will be involved in a consultancy role and it is exciting to imagine what he can achieve in the United hotseat.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.