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1973–74 Manchester United F.C. season

The 1973–74 season was Manchester United's 72nd season in the Football League, and their 29th consecutive season in the top division of English football.[1] It was the first full season in charge for manager Tommy Docherty, who had been appointed the previous December following the dismissal of Frank O'Farrell. Only six seasons after winning the European Cup, United were relegated, meaning that they would be a Second Division club for the first time since 1938.

Manchester United
1973–74 season
Chairman Louis Edwards
Manager Tommy Docherty
First Division 21st (relegated)
FA Cup Fourth Round
League Cup Second Round
Top goalscorer League:
Sammy McIlroy (6)

All:
Lou Macari (6)
Sammy McIlroy (6)
Highest home attendance 60,025 vs Leeds United (9 February 1974)
Lowest home attendance 23,906 vs Middlesbrough (8 October 1973)
Average home league attendance 41,251
Home colours
Away colours
Third colours

Having been persuaded to return to the team after walking out during the previous season, the troubled George Best briefly returned to the side, but played his last game for the club on New Year's Day, and his contract was cancelled the following season after more than a decade at Old Trafford.

Docherty took the unusual step of appointing goalkeeper Alex Stepney as the team's penalty taker. After 12 games, Stepney had converted two penalties, which made him the club's joint top scorer, a position he held for ten matches.

United began the season with two victories in their first three games, but then recorded only four wins in twenty League games between September and March. A late-season run of victories raised the prospect of survival, but United stumbled as the season drew to an end. On the last full day of the season, United could survive only by winning their home game against Manchester City and then their rearranged game at Stoke City, provided that points were dropped by other relegation candidates, all of which had only one game remaining. In the event, United lost both games whilst their rivals' results meant that they would have been relegated anyway.

The scorer of what proved to be the winning goal for Manchester City in United's penultimate game was former United player Denis Law, who scored with a back-heel in the 81st minute. He did not celebrate the goal, and was substituted shortly afterwards. The goal triggered a series of pitch invasions by Manchester United fans, perhaps hoping to get the match replayed, that forced the referee to abandon the game in the 85th minute. After a review, the Football League decided that the result should stand.

This was the season in which the Football League increased the number of relegation places from two to three, and it is often incorrectly claimed that by winning at Old Trafford Manchester City "relegated" United. In fact, it was Birmingham City's win over Norwich City and West Ham United's point against Liverpool that sealed United's fate, since, with a win still worth only two points, United could not have caught Birmingham and West Ham even if they had won their last two fixtures. However, City's victory and Southampton's win at Everton meant that United finished in 21st place, and would still have been relegated under the old system.

Already relegated, United then lost their last game of the season, against sixth-placed Stoke City.

In spite of the relegation to the Second Division, the club's directors decided not to sack Docherty, placing their confidence in him to restore the club's First Division status at the first attempt.[2]

Contents

First DivisionEdit

Date Opponents H / A Result
F – A
Scorers Attendance
25 August 1973 Arsenal A 0 – 3 51,501
29 August 1973 Stoke City H 1 – 0 James 43,614
1 September 1973 Queens Park Rangers H 2 – 1 Holton, McIlroy 44,156
5 September 1973 Leicester City A 0 – 1 29,152
8 September 1973 Ipswich Town A 1 – 2 Anderson 22,023
12 September 1973 Leicester City H 1 – 2 Stepney 40,793
15 September 1973 West Ham United H 3 – 1 Kidd (2), Storey-Moore 44,757
22 September 1973 Leeds United A 0 – 0 47,058
29 September 1973 Liverpool H 0 – 0 53,882
6 October 1973 Wolverhampton Wanderers A 1 – 2 McIlroy 32,962
13 October 1973 Derby County H 0 – 1 43,724
20 October 1973 Birmingham City H 1 – 0 Stepney 48,937
27 October 1973 Burnley A 0 – 0 31,976
3 November 1973 Chelsea H 2 – 2 Greenhoff, Young 48,036
10 November 1973 Tottenham Hotspur A 1 – 2 Best 42,756
17 November 1973 Newcastle United A 2 – 3 Graham, Macari 41,768
24 November 1973 Norwich City H 0 – 0 36,338
8 December 1973 Southampton H 0 – 0 31,648
15 December 1973 Coventry City H 2 – 3 Best, Morgan 28,589
22 December 1973 Liverpool A 0 – 2 40,420
26 December 1973 Sheffield United H 1 – 2 Macari 38,653
29 December 1973 Ipswich Town H 2 – 0 Macari, McIlroy 36,365
1 January 1974 Queens Park Rangers A 0 – 3 32,339
12 January 1974 West Ham United A 1 – 2 McIlroy 34,147
19 January 1974 Arsenal H 1 – 1 James 38,589
2 February 1974 Coventry City A 0 – 1 25,313
9 February 1974 Leeds United H 0 – 2 60,025
16 February 1974 Derby County A 2 – 2 Greenhoff, Houston 29,987
23 February 1974 Wolverhampton Wanderers H 0 – 0 39,260
2 March 1974 Sheffield United A 1 – 0 Macari 29,203
13 March 1974 Manchester City A 0 – 0 51,331
16 March 1974 Birmingham City A 0 – 1 37,768
23 March 1974 Tottenham Hotspur H 0 – 1 36,278
30 March 1974 Chelsea A 3 – 1 Daly, McIlroy, Morgan 29,602
3 April 1974 Burnley H 3 – 3 Forsyth, Holton, McIlroy 33,336
6 April 1974 Norwich City A 2 – 0 Greenhoff, Macari 28,223
13 April 1974 Newcastle United H 1 – 0 McCalliog 44,751
15 April 1974 Everton H 3 – 0 McCalliog (2), Houston 48,424
20 April 1974 Southampton A 1 – 1 McCalliog 30,789
23 April 1974 Everton A 0 – 1 46,093
27 April 1974 Manchester City H 0 – 1 56,996
29 April 1974 Stoke City A 0 – 1 27,392
Pos Club Pld W D L GF GA GAvg Pts
20 Southampton 42 11 14 17 47 68 0.691 36
21 Manchester United 42 10 12 20 38 48 0.792 32
22 Norwich City 42 7 15 20 37 62 0.597 29

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

FA CupEdit

Date Round Opponents H / A Result
F – A
Scorers Attendance
5 January 1974 Round 3 Plymouth Argyle H 1 – 0 Macari 31,810
26 January 1974 Round 4 Ipswich Town H 0 – 1 37,177

League CupEdit

Date Round Opponents H / A Result
F – A
Scorers Attendance
8 October 1973 Round 2 Middlesbrough H 0 – 1 23,906

Squad statisticsEdit

Pos. Name League FA Cup League Cup Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
GK   Alex Stepney 42 2 2 0 1 0 45 2
DF   Martin Buchan 42 0 2 0 1 0 45 0
DF   Alex Forsyth 18(1) 1 2 0 0 0 20(1) 0
DF   Brian Greenhoff 36 3 2 0 1 0 39 3
DF   Clive Griffiths 7 0 0 0 0 0 7 0
DF   Jim Holton 34 2 2 0 1 0 37 2
DF   Stewart Houston 20 2 0 0 0 0 20 2
DF   Steve James 21 2 1 0 1 0 23 2
DF   David Sadler 2(1) 0 0 0 0 0 2(1) 0
DF   Arnie Sidebottom 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
DF   Tony Young 29 1 2 0 1 0 32 1
MF   George Best 12 2 0 0 0 0 12 2
MF   Paul Bielby 2(2) 0 0 0 0 0 2(2) 0
MF   Gerry Daly 14(2) 1 0 0 1 0 15(2) 1
MF   George Graham 23(1) 1 1 0 1 0 25(1) 0
MF   Mick Martin 12(4) 0 2 0 0 0 14(4) 0
MF   Jim McCalliog 11 4 0 0 0 0 11 4
MF   Sammy McIlroy 24(5) 6 1(1) 0 0 0 25(6) 6
FW   Trevor Anderson 11(1) 1 0 0 0 0 11(1) 1
FW   George Buchan 0(3) 0 0 0 0(1) 0 0(4) 0
FW   Paul Fletcher 2(3) 0 0 0 0 0 2(3) 0
FW   Brian Kidd 21 2 1(1) 0 1 0 23(1) 2
FW   Lou Macari 34(1) 5 2 1 1 0 37(1) 6
FW   Willie Morgan 41 2 2 0 1 0 44 2
FW   Ian Storey-Moore 2 1 0 0 0 0 2 1
Own goals 0 0 0 0

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Manchester United Season 1973/74". StretfordEnd.co.uk. Retrieved 21 December 2011. 
  2. ^ "Managers – Tommy Docherty". AboutManUtd.com. About ManUtd. Retrieved 9 March 2012.