2011–12 Manchester United F.C. season
The 2011–12 season was Manchester United's 20th season in the Premier League, and their 37th consecutive season in the top-flight of English football. United were defending Premier League champions, and aimed for an unprecedented 20th league title this season. Furthermore, they were competing in the Champions League for a 16th successive season. In addition, they were competing in the domestic tournaments, the FA Cup and the League Cup.
|Co-chairmen||Joel and Avram Glazer|
|Manager||Sir Alex Ferguson|
|FA Cup||Fourth Round|
|League Cup||Fifth Round|
|UEFA Champions League||Group stage|
|UEFA Europa League||Round of 16|
|Top goalscorer||League: Wayne Rooney (27)|
All: Wayne Rooney (34)
|Highest home attendance||75,627 vs Wolverhampton Wanderers|
(10 December 2011)
|Lowest home attendance||52,624 vs Crystal Palace|
(30 November 2011)
|Average home league attendance||75,387|
On 7 December 2011, United lost 2–1 away to Basel, a result which saw them finish third in their Champions League group. This meant that they competed in the UEFA Europa League (formerly the UEFA Cup) for the first time since the 1995–96 season. However, they only made it as far as the Round of 16, falling to Athletic Bilbao 5–3 on aggregate.
Going into the last match of the season, on 13 May 2012, United and Manchester City were locked together on 86 points at the top the table, but City led with an eight-goal advantage in goal difference. United therefore needed to better City's result to win the title. They were on course to do this, winning 1–0 at Sunderland, whilst City trailed 2–1 at home to Queens Park Rangers. However, two stoppage time goals from Edin Džeko and Sergio Agüero gave City a 3–2 win and edged United out on goal difference. It was the first time in 23 years that the champions and the runners-up had finished level on points.
Pre-season and friendliesEdit
Manchester United preceded their 2011–12 campaign with a tour of the United States for the second year in a row. As in 2010, they played in the MLS All-Star Game, in which they took on a team of the best players in Major League Soccer. In the lead-up to this game, which was played on 27 July 2011, United took on the New England Revolution (13 July), the Seattle Sounders (20 July) and the Chicago Fire (23 July), before finishing the tour with a game against Barcelona at FedExField in Washington, D.C. on 30 July.
The club granted a testimonial to Paul Scholes, who retired on 31 May 2011, to honour his 17 years of service to United. The match was played at Old Trafford against New York Cosmos on 5 August 2011. United won the game 6–0 – with Scholes himself opening the scoring the opening goal – to complete an unbeaten pre-season.
The club also granted a testimonial to Harry Gregg, a survivor of the 1958 Munich air disaster, who rescued a 20-month-old girl, her pregnant mother and attempted to revive United manager Sir Matt Busby. The match was played at Windsor Park against Irish League XI on 15 May 2012. The Irish XI was managed by Martin O'Neill and David Jeffrey. United won the game 4–1.
|Date||Opponents||H / A||Result
|13 July 2011||New England Revolution||A||4–1||Owen 51', Macheda (2) 54', 60', Park 80'||51,523|
|20 July 2011||Seattle Sounders||A||7–0||Owen 15', Diouf 49', Rooney (3) 51', 69', 72', Park 71', Obertan 88'||67,052|
|23 July 2011||Chicago Fire||N||3–1||Rooney 66', Rafael 76', Nani 82'||61,308|
|27 July 2011||MLS All-Stars||N||4–0||Anderson 20', Park 45', Berbatov 52', Welbeck 68'||26,760|
|30 July 2011||Barcelona||N||2–1||Nani 22', Owen 76'||81,807|
|5 August 2011||New York Cosmos||H||6–0||Scholes 9', Rooney 28' (pen.), Anderson 50', Welbeck 59', Diouf (2) 69', 74'||74,731|
|15 May 2012||Irish League XI||N||4–1||Evra 20', Young (2) 58', 87', Rooney 64' (pen.)||14,098|
FA Community ShieldEdit
As Premier League champions, United began the season against the holders of the FA Cup, local rivals Manchester City in the Community Shield. The match was played at Wembley on 7 August. This was the first time the Shield had been contested by the two clubs in 55 years. United had most of the possession and more shots on goal in the first half, but it was City who took the lead in the 38th minute when Joleon Lescott nodded in a David Silva free-kick. Edin Džeko then doubled City's lead on the stroke of half-time with a low strike from long-distance. However, seven minutes into the second half, Chris Smalling volleyed home an Ashley Young free-kick to reduce the deficit, and then Nani finished off an intricate passing move involving Wayne Rooney and Tom Cleverley in the 58th minute to bring the score back to 2–2. With a penalty shoot-out looming as the game moved into injury time, Nani forced a mistake from City captain Vincent Kompany, outpaced the defence and rounded goalkeeper Joe Hart before sliding the ball into the empty net to seal United's comeback and their 19th FA Community Shield.
|Date||Opponents||H / A||Result
|7 August 2011||Manchester City||N||3–2||Smalling 52', Nani (2) 58', 90+4'||77,169|
United travelled to The Hawthorns to take on West Bromwich Albion on 14 August 2011 and won the game 2–1. The next game United played was at home to Tottenham Hotspur; a 3–0 win took United up to second place, behind Manchester City only on goal difference. Up next for United was rivals Arsenal at Old Trafford on 28 August; United won the game spectacularly beating the Gunners 8–2 to go top on goal difference, ahead of Manchester City by a single goal.
United travelled to the Reebok Stadium to face Bolton Wanderers in their next game, knowing that they had slipped down to third after Manchester City and Chelsea had both won earlier in the day. After Tom Cleverley had limped off after taking a kick in the foot by Kevin Davies, United got off to a dream start inside five minutes, as Javier Hernández steered home a Nani cross at the near post for his first goal of the season. Rooney doubled the champions' lead by prodding home Phil Jones' right-wing cross. Four minutes later, Rooney grabbed his second of the game, tapping home after Jones' cross-cum-shot was blocked by the legs of Jussi Jääskeläinen. Hernández swept in his second – and United's fourth – on 58 minutes, before 10 minutes later, Rooney completed his hat-trick – his second successive treble and his seventh hat-trick for United – by drilling home. Late on, Hernández tried desperately to complete a hat-trick of his own, but his efforts to complete his first hat-trick for United ended in vain. Still, United overtook City on goal difference for the second successive game, with United top of the table by three goals.
United's next game was at home to rivals Chelsea on 18 September 2011. United opened the scoring after 8 minutes after Chris Smalling rose unmarked to head an Ashley Young free-kick into the far corner. After Ramires failed to convert a Fernando Torres cross, mishitting the ball and allowing David de Gea to spring across the goal to make the save, Nani doubled United's lead on 37 minutes, firing the ball into the top corner from 30 yards. The first half ended with a 3–0 lead for United after Phil Jones ran forward into the Chelsea penalty area and, following a block from Nani, the ball rebounded back to Rooney who side-footed the ball home. At half time Nicolas Anelka was introduced for Chelsea in favour of Frank Lampard and he immediately assisted Torres, who reduced the deficit to 3–1 mere seconds into the second half. However, it was United who received the next significant chance when Nani smashed the ball off the crossbar and, when attempting to gather the rebound, he was fouled by José Bosingwa inside the penalty area. Rooney went to take the penalty but slipped during the run up to strike the ball, causing the shot to go well wide. Chelsea also had a chance in the last 10 minutes when Torres shimmied the ball past De Gea but sliced his shot at the open goal wide.
Manchester United's next game was away to Stoke City on 24 September 2011, a team which United had beaten in all six of their previous meetings in the Premier League. However, the game ended 1–1, which meant that United relinquished their 100% league record in the 2011–12 season, and City took points off United in the league for the first time. Early on, United had a penalty shout when Javier Hernández was brought down by Jonathan Woodgate in the penalty area, but the referee turned down United's shouts and Hernández eventually limped off. Despite this, United opened the scoring through Nani on 27 minutes, who exchanged passes with Darren Fletcher, before finishing beyond Asmir Begović with aplomb. David de Gea pulled off a couple of outstanding saves to keep United ahead, but Stoke levelled in the 52nd minute, through Peter Crouch's emphatic header. Ryan Giggs squandered a great late chance as the points were shared. United remained ahead of Manchester City on goal difference.
United's next game was a 2–0 home win against Norwich City on 1 October 2011, United's first game that kicked off on 3pm on a Saturday for almost half a year. Before United's first goal on 68 minutes, one of Norwich's many chances came through former Huddersfield winger, Anthony Pilkington, who could only shoot wide. United's first goal came when Giggs' corner was headed on by Phil Jones and then Rooney, and Anderson headed it in. Seven minutes later, Pilkington had another chance, but his deflected shot was tipped onto the post by United goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard, making his Premier League debut, and then saved by the Danish 'keeper. United sealed the win on 87 minutes, when Danny Welbeck scored after exchanging passes with Park Ji-sung. Rooney's record of scoring in every Premier League game in the season ended, despite an attempt to chip the ball over Norwich keeper John Ruddy and hitting the crossbar. United, however, kept their place at the top of the Premier League on goal difference.
After an international break, United played Liverpool on 15 October, in a game that Sir Alex Ferguson said was better than El Clásico itself. Although United started as the better side, gradually Liverpool started to come about more chances until first-half whistle. Following tradition that there had yet to be a 0–0 draw between these two sides, Rio Ferdinand clipped Charlie Adam outside the penalty area, and Steven Gerrard converted from the free kick, giving Liverpool the lead the 60th minute, and also handing him the 'Man of the Match' award after the match (in his first start for Liverpool since 6 March 2011). However Liverpool's enjoyment was short lived, as ten minutes from time, Javier Hernández headed into the back of the net, making the score 1–1. Despite late efforts from both teams, the game eventually finished 1–1, leaving United one point ahead of local rivals Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table for the time being. Manchester City later defeated Aston Villa 4–1 to go top of the Premier League, two points clear of United. The game was marred, however, by Luis Suárez racially abusing Patrice Evra.
The next game was the Manchester derby, at Old Trafford, which saw the Manchester City go out as winners. United started dominating the game, but just the second time City came close to De Gea and Mario Balotelli neatly scored for the visit. United kept control of the game for the remainder of the first half, but could not capitalise on their chances. Later, two minutes into the second half, Jonny Evans received a red card for a challenge on Balotelli near the area. City went on to score two more goals, another from Balotelli and one from Sergio Agüero. Next, ten minutes from time, United scored via Darren Fletcher, and a few minutes later had a chance from a free kick by Ashley Young but Chris Smalling couldn't direct the ball properly to the net. They would regret not scoring because what followed were three more goals from City, one from David Silva and two from Edin Džeko. The final score was 6–1, a result that saw the Citizens top the table by five points, handing United their first home defeat in any competition since losing to Chelsea in April 2010 in the process, while it was also the first time since October 2010 that United had failed to win a Premier League match at home, as well as being their heaviest defeat at home since 1955, which ironically also came against Manchester City, losing 5-0 on that occasion.
Their next game was away to Everton. In late years United had had troubles on that stadium, including a 3–3 draw the previous year in which Everton had scored two stoppage time goals to level the match. The game started and slowly United started building confidence, and finally a goal by Javier Hernández from a cross by Patrice Evra put United ahead in the score, and the game would end 1–0.
Sunderland visited Old Trafford in their next game. This game saw the return of two ex-Manchester United players to Old Trafford, Wes Brown and John O'Shea. The game was a tough test for the Red Devils, but they were the winners when Brown deflected a cross into his own net at the end of the first 45 minutes. His return to Old Trafford saw him scoring for the club he had previously played (and scored) for.
They were away to Welsh side Swansea City, in their next league game. For the first time, United visited Swans new home, Liberty Stadium. United dominated for the first 15 minutes and, at 11 minutes, Hernández scored from a pass from the left by Ryan Giggs. The home side had a good chance a few minutes later after a cross from the right saw the striker in front of an open goal, but was not able to shoot and Jonny Evans prevented him from doing it. For the rest of the first half it was an end to end affair, but with no real danger from any of the two. The second half started and Swansea got off as the better side. For 35 minutes they dominated the game and had a couple of good opportunities to score, but United were defending solidly. For the last ten minutes United got back to their feet and had very good chances of scoring. Rooney shot from outside the box a few times but he wasn't successful. Antonio Valencia also had a shot from outside the box going just out. Phil Jones had a forward run which almost ended in goal, but his shot hit the far post. The game ended 0–1 for United, their third consecutive win by this score.
United received Newcastle United at Old Trafford for the next match. The first half was a pretty much uneventful period and the score by the end of the first 45 minutes was 0–0. Second half started and in the 48th minute United received a free kick near the area. Rooney blasted his shot but it hit the wall, and when he received the ball back he blasted once again. The ball deflected on a defender and hit Javier Hernández, which ricocheted into the back of the net. They were one up until Rio Ferdinand tackled Hatem Ben Arfa inside the penalty area, but replays of the tackle showed that he had made contact with the ball first. The referee gave Newcastle the penalty anyway and Demba Ba scored to level the game 1–1. United kept pushing and trying to score but couldn't. For the last five minutes they received several corners, but no attempt ended in the net, save a last one by Hernández but was ruled offside. The score ended 1–1.
Their next game was a visit to Villa Park against Aston Villa. The first few minutes of the game were divided. Five minutes after the start Hernández was injured on his left ankle and was substituted by Antonio Valencia. Finally, United scored at the 20th minute. A cross from the left from Nani was finished by Phil Jones, making it his first Manchester United goal. United kept pushing for the rest of the game, and despite Aston Villa's improvement in the second half, they kept a clean sheet. At the end of the second half United kept pushing, and even had a goal ruled offside from Welbeck. They couldn't score the second. The score finally read 0–1.
Next they received Wolves at home. United got to the better start and it went on for the rest of the game. In the 17th minute, after a run from the left, Nani profiled himself through the centre and fired a shot that ended at the back of the net. Ten minutes later, Rooney fired from the same angle Nani had fired minutes before and this time as well ended in goal. This ended an eight-match drought without any goals for Rooney, and it was the first time since defeating Norwich 2–0 that United scored more than once in a game. United kept their dominance for the remainder of the first half. The second half started with Wolverhampton capitalising on the first chance they got, with a header from Steven Fletcher ending in the back of David de Gea's net. In spite of this United kept their dominance and scored once more in the 56th minute when a cross from Antonio Valencia was received by Nani, making it 3–1. Then, in the 62nd minute, Rooney scored once again acrobatically, making it 4–1, which was the final score. Two days after they defeated Wolves, at Stamford Bridge, host Chelsea defeated their rival, City, their first defeat in the 2011–12 Premier League and narrowed the points gap into two points differences.
Next they visited the Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road. Rooney scored one of United's quickest goal this season, heading in Antonio Valencia's cross. Michael Carrick scored his first goal since January 2010, a solo dribble and finish to seal the scoresheet 2–0.
On 21 December 2011, United played a game at Craven Cottage away to Fulham. The game finished 5–0 with goals from Danny Welbeck, Nani, Ryan Giggs (whose goal meant he had scored in all 20 Premier League seasons) then in the second half; two late goals from Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov in the 88th and 90th minute finished the match off.
United's next game was at home to Wigan Athletic. The game was played on 26 December (Boxing Day) 2011, and United won 5–0. Park Ji-sung coolly slotted the hosts into an early lead, before Wigan striker Conor Sammon was harshly sent off for catching Michael Carrick in the face. Berbatov fired United 2–0 ahead, and netted the third after the break with a neat turn and powerful finish. Antonio Valencia rifled into the corner, before Berbatov scored from the spot to complete his hat-trick.
United hosted Blackburn Rovers (who entered the match bottom of the table) in their next game. The game was played on 31 December (New Year's Eve) 2011. The match was also played on United manager Sir Alex Ferguson's 70th birthday, but United lost 3–2 to make it an unhappy birthday for Ferguson. Yakubu gave Rovers the lead from the spot after Berbatov had pulled down defender Christopher Samba. The Nigerian made it 2–0 when he made the most of slack defending to thrash in, before Berbatov brought United back into the match with a header and shot. But Grant Hanley spoilt the day for Ferguson when he nodded in the winner. Late on, Will Keane was brought on for his debut as United searched for an equaliser. However, Keane denied his side an equaliser by blocking a shot from Phil Jones, playing against his former club, on the goal-line.
United travelled to St James' Park to face Newcastle United in their next game. The game was United's first of 2012, being played on 4 January, but United lost 3–0 to start the new year in the worst possible fashion, and condemn themselves to a second successive defeat. The Red Devils went behind before the break when striker Demba Ba hooked in his 15th goal of the season. Yohan Cabaye doubled Newcastle's lead with a 30-yard free-kick that crashed in off the crossbar, before Phil Jones headed into his own net late on. Rooney had a shot blocked on the line and Berbatov's deflected header hit the post for the champions.
United hosted Bolton Wanderers in their next game, played on 14 January 2012. The match was played six days after a shock 3–2 win over Manchester City in the FA Cup, and United won 3–0 to record a second successive win and their first league victory of 2012. United carved out a number of first-half chances, with Ádám Bogdán saving Rooney's penalty. But Paul Scholes, 37, who had recently came out of retirement, struck before half-time when he tucked in Rooney's cross. United were careless at times, but Danny Welbeck poked in, before Michael Carrick settled nerves from 20 yards.
United travelled to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal in their next game. The game was played on 22 January 2012, and United won 2–1 to complete the double over the Gunners, having famously beat them 8–2 back in August. After a quiet opening, Ryan Giggs picked out Antonio Valencia to head United in front at the far post. Arsenal improved after the break, and although Robin van Persie missed a clear chance, he made amends by finding the bottom corner from 15 yards out. But United won it as Valencia ghosted through and Danny Welbeck lashed home.
United hosted Stoke City in their next game, played on 31 January 2012. Stoke had not won at Old Trafford for 30 years, and didn't do so on this day, as United won 2–0, with Javier Hernández and Berbatov netting penalties either side of half-time. United were without 11 players, including Rooney, and gave a Premier League debut to third-choice keeper Ben Amos. But Hernández broke the deadlock after Jermaine Pennant fouled Park Ji-sung, before Berbatov doubled the lead. A foul by Jonathan Walters on Antonio Valencia was punished by the striker.
United travelled to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea in their next game. The game was played on 5 February 2012, and United staged a stunning comeback from 3–0 down to draw 3–3. Sir Alex Ferguson's champions are without a Premier League win at Chelsea in a decade, and they looked condemned to another defeat as Chelsea took total control early in the second half. Jonny Evans' own goal gave Chelsea a half-time lead against the run of play, before a stunning volley from Juan Mata 24 seconds after the restart and David Luiz's deflected header appeared to give Chelsea an unassailable advantage. United's hopes were then revived by two penalties awarded by referee Howard Webb – both converted by Rooney – before substitute Javier Hernández's header six minutes from time gave them a point that was greeted in the manner of a victory by their travelling support. Even then, United were indebted to much-maligned goalkeeper David de Gea for a magnificent save from Mata in the dying moments, and another less spectacular – but equally important – fingertip stop from Chelsea debutant Gary Cahill.
United hosted rivals Liverpool in their next game. The match was played on 11 February 2012, and United won 2–1. The match itself, however, was overshadowed by Liverpool striker Luis Suárez refusing to shake hands with United left-back and captain Patrice Evra pre-match. There was also a bust-up in the tunnel at half-time. At the interval, the score was 0–0. United had the best chance of the half, with Paul Scholes' header from a Ryan Giggs cross going straight at Pepe Reina. At the end of the first half, Suárez felt he had been fouled by Rio Ferdinand, but the referee turned down the Uruguay striker's appeals. United opened the scoring in the 47th minute, when Rooney volleyed home from a Giggs corner, which had been flicked on by Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson. Three minutes later, Rooney scored his second, coolly slotting home Antonio Valencia's pass after Jay Spearing had lost possession. Rooney should have had his hat-trick thanks to a clever step over from Scholes, but he was caught on his heels, and scuffed a tame finish wide. With just over ten minutes to go, Suárez gave Liverpool hope, when he poked home from close-range after Charlie Adam's long-range free kick deflected off Ferdinand. However, that goal proved to be nothing but a consolation, as United (temporarily) moved back to the top of the table.
United travelled to Carrow Road to face Norwich City in their next game. The game was played on 26 February 2012, and United won 2–1, despite being unconvincing. United took an early lead when Paul Scholes headed home Nani's cross. Grant Holt levelled for the Canaries late on when he held off Rio Ferdinand to turn and fire into the top corner. But there was still time for Ryan Giggs (making his 900th appearance for United) to steal the points when he converted Ashley Young's cross at the far post.
United hosted West Brom in their next game. The game was played on 11 March 2012, and United comfortably won 2–0. Rooney gave United a 1–0 lead at the break, diverting Javier Hernández's shot past Ben Foster on the volley. The United striker then made it 2–0 from the penalty spot, while West Brom's Jonas Olsson was earlier sent off for a second bookable offence. United deserved their win, and should have scored another goal in the second half when Danny Welbeck slid wide of an open goal after rounding Foster. However, West Brom had two chances of their own – both falling to Keith Andrews – and were unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty when Peter Odemwingie was tripped by Patrice Evra.
Away to Wolverhampton Wanderers was United's next game. The previous season United had suffered a 2–1 defeat at the Molineux Stadium, ending their unbeaten run of 24 games that season. United started playing better and got ahead on the score on the 21st minute when Rooney's corner was received by Michael Carrick, who passed it to Jonny Evans, who smashed it into the back of the net, scoring his first goal for United in his career. On the 43rd minute, a run from Antonio Valencia on the right saw him advance directly into the box, and he shoot from a 30 degrees angle, making it 0–2. Three minutes later, on stoppage time, Valencia advanced into the backline before passing towards the middle to Danny Welbeck, who scored his seventh league goal. On the second half, on the 56th minute, Valencia made a short pass from a corner to Rafael, who then crossed it to the heart of the box where Javier Hernández headed the ball into the back of the net. Five minutes later, on the 61st minute, a one two played by Valencia and Welbeck saw Valencia enter the box, and he easily crossed it to the other end where Hernández was there to score his second of the evening. United could have scored more times.
United next played on a Monday at Old Trafford against Fulham, who they had beaten 5–0 at Craven Cottage. Manchester City had only managed a draw against Stoke City, with Peter Crouch scoring a cracker from outside the 18 yard box, so that meant that if United won their game they would be top of the league by three whole points. United went into the game with this in mind, and while it was a tough test to break Fulham's defense, on the 42nd minute a cross from the left by Ashley Young found defender Jonny Evans on the verge of the box, who passed to the middle and found Rooney, who slotted in what would prove to be the winner and what placed United top of the league with a three-point advantage.
United's next game was away at Blackburn, who had beaten United at Old Trafford earlier in the season. Manchester City's draw at home to Sunderland two days earlier, meant United went into this game two points ahead of their nearest rivals. Blackburn held out defensively throughout the first half and almost took the lead as two saves in a minute from David de Gea kept the score at 0–0. In the second half, United pressed but couldn't break the resilient Blackburn defence down until ten minutes from time when Antonio Valencia hit a cross-shot into the far side of the goal to give United the lead. A second goal followed four minutes later from Ashley Young giving United a five-point lead at the top of the table with seven games remaining.
United played host to Queens Park Rangers in their next fixture on 8 April 2012 in the earlier game that kicked off at 1:30pm, and ran out comfortable 2–0 winners. The first goal came after a challenge on Ashley Young in the penalty area by midfielder Shaun Derry who was subsequently sent off and United were awarded a penalty. Rooney dispatched the spot kick past Paddy Kenny to give United the advantage. Paul Scholes then made the game safe in the second half with a 25-yard drive low into the bottom left hand corner. Arsenal played host to their rivals Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium in the second game of the day which kicked off at 4:00pm, and Arsenal won 1–0 thanks to an 87th-minute goal by Mikel Arteta. That result gave United an eight-point lead at the top of the table.
Three days later, United faced relegation threatened Wigan at the DW Stadium. Wigan had lost all 13 matches they had with played with United since their promotion to the Premier League in 2005. United enter the game as heavy favourites, but lost 1–0 following a controversial decision to award a corner led to the only goal of the game, the first conceded by United in six games. Following Man City's 4–0 win over West Bromwich Albion, United's lead at the top of the table was cut to five points. United rebounded in their following match at Old Trafford, beating Aston Villa 4–0. Once again, Ashley Young was involved in a controversial penalty decision, when his leg appeared to be tackled by Villa's Ciaran Clark just seven minutes into the match. Rooney scored the opening goal from the spot. Despite pressure from the away side for most of the first half, Danny Welbeck slotted home shortly before half-time to double United's lead, and the victory was made safe in the second half with a second goal from Rooney and confirmed with a goal by Nani, newly returned from injury.
United were back at Old Trafford for their next fixture, against midtable Everton. Despite holding a 3–1 lead and then later a 4–2 lead, United blew the chance to take all three points by conceding two late goals, resulting in their lead at the top of the table being cut to just three points heading into the pivotal Manchester derby.
The next game was the Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium. City were dominant for most of the first half, finally making the breakthrough shortly before half-time via captain Vincent Kompany, and despite United's second half efforts, City remained comfortable throughout, with the match finishing 1–0. This caused City to lead the table by goal difference.
Now behind in the title race on goal difference, on 6 May 2012, both City and United played on the same day. City went first in a match away against Newcastle United at St James' Park that kicked off at 1:30pm, City won 2–0. Following City's success, United returned to Old Trafford to play the league's surprise package, Swansea. Their beat the visitors with two goals scored by Paul Scholes and Ashley Young, but their result was matched by City, who secured a late 2–0 win over Newcastle. With the battle for the title heading into the final day, United were aware that they needed to better City's result to stand any chance of becoming champions.
On the final matchday of the season, United traveled north to play Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. A first half goal from Rooney saw United take the first initiative in the race for the title against rivals, Manchester City. At the beginning of the second half in the City game, they failed to defend their single-goal lead, falling 2–1 behind at home to relegation haunted Queens Park Rangers. No further goals at Sunderland saw United claim a 1–0 victory. At full-time in the United game, it appeared that United had clinched the league title, but had to await the final result from the Manchester City game before they could be crowned Champions. In one of the most spectacular finishes any Premier League season, United saw the title snatched away when Manchester City scores two late goals to win their game 3-2. The final City goal was famously scored by Sergio Agüero. The final results meant United finished the season in second place based on their inferior goal difference behind champions City.
|Date||Opponents||H / A||Result
|14 August 2011||West Bromwich Albion||A||2–1||Rooney 13', Reid 81' (o.g.)||25,360||3rd|
|22 August 2011||Tottenham Hotspur||H||3–0||Welbeck 61', Anderson 76', Rooney 87'||75,498||2nd|
|28 August 2011||Arsenal||H||8–2||Welbeck 22', Young (2) 28', 90+1', Rooney (3) 41', 64', 82' (pen.), Nani 67', Park 70'||75,448||1st|
|10 September 2011||Bolton Wanderers||A||5–0||Hernández (2) 5', 58', Rooney (3) 20', 25', 68'||25,944||1st|
|18 September 2011||Chelsea||H||3–1||Smalling 8', Nani 37', Rooney 45'||75,455||1st|
|24 September 2011||Stoke City||A||1–1||Nani 27'||27,582||1st|
|1 October 2011||Norwich City||H||2–0||Anderson 68', Welbeck 87'||75,514||1st|
|15 October 2011||Liverpool||A||1–1||Hernández 81'||45,065||2nd|
|23 October 2011||Manchester City||H||1–6||Fletcher 81'||75,487||2nd|
|29 October 2011||Everton||A||1–0||Hernández 19'||35,494||2nd|
|5 November 2011||Sunderland||H||1–0||Brown 45+1' (o.g.)||75,570||2nd|
|19 November 2011||Swansea City||A||1–0||Hernández 11'||20,295||2nd|
|26 November 2011||Newcastle United||H||1–1||Hernández 49'||75,594||2nd|
|3 December 2011||Aston Villa||A||1–0||Jones 20'||40,053||2nd|
|10 December 2011||Wolverhampton Wanderers||H||4–1||Nani (2) 17', 56', Rooney (2) 27', 62'||75,627||2nd|
|18 December 2011||Queens Park Rangers||A||2–0||Rooney 1', Carrick 56'||18,033||2nd|
|21 December 2011||Fulham||A||5–0||Welbeck 5', Nani 28', Giggs 43', Rooney 88', Berbatov 90'||25,700||2nd|
|26 December 2011||Wigan Athletic||H||5–0||Park 8', Berbatov (3) 41', 58', 78' (pen.), Valencia 75'||75,183||2nd|
|31 December 2011||Blackburn Rovers||H||2–3||Berbatov (2) 52', 62'||75,146||2nd|
|4 January 2012||Newcastle United||A||0–3||52,299||2nd|
|14 January 2012||Bolton Wanderers||H||3–0||Scholes 45+1', Welbeck 74', Carrick 83'||75,444||2nd|
|22 January 2012||Arsenal||A||2–1||Valencia 45+1', Welbeck 81'||60,093||2nd|
|31 January 2012||Stoke City||H||2–0||Hernández 38' (pen.), Berbatov 53' (pen.)||74,719||2nd|
|5 February 2012||Chelsea||A||3–3||Rooney (2) 58' (pen.), 69' (pen.), Hernández 84'||41,668||2nd|
|11 February 2012||Liverpool||H||2–1||Rooney (2) 47', 50'||74,844||1st|
|26 February 2012||Norwich City||A||2–1||Scholes 7', Giggs 90+2'||26,811||2nd|
|4 March 2012||Tottenham Hotspur||A||3–1||Rooney 45', Young (2) 60', 69'||36,034||2nd|
|11 March 2012||West Bromwich Albion||H||2–0||Rooney (2) 35', 71' (pen.)||75,598||1st|
|18 March 2012||Wolverhampton Wanderers||A||5–0||Evans 21', Valencia 43', Welbeck 45+1', Hernández (2) 56', 61'||27,494||1st|
|26 March 2012||Fulham||H||1–0||Rooney 42'||75,570||1st|
|2 April 2012||Blackburn Rovers||A||2–0||Valencia 81', Young 86'||26,532||1st|
|8 April 2012||Queens Park Rangers||H||2–0||Rooney 15' (pen.), Scholes 68'||75,505||1st|
|11 April 2012||Wigan Athletic||A||0–1||18,115||1st|
|15 April 2012||Aston Villa||H||4–0||Rooney (2) 7' (pen.), 73', Welbeck 43', Nani 90+3'||75,138||1st|
|22 April 2012||Everton||H||4–4||Rooney (2) 41', 69', Welbeck 57', Nani 60'||75,522||1st|
|30 April 2012||Manchester City||A||0–1||47,259||2nd|
|6 May 2012||Swansea City||H||2–0||Scholes 28′, Young 41′||75,496||2nd|
|13 May 2012||Sunderland||A||1–0||Rooney 20'||46,452||2nd|
|Pos||Team||Pld||W||D||L||GF||GA||GD||Pts||Qualification or relegation|
|1||Manchester City (C)||38||28||5||5||93||29||+64||89||Qualification for the Champions League group stage|
|4||Tottenham Hotspur||38||20||9||9||66||41||+25||69||Qualification for the Europa League group stage[a]|
|5||Newcastle United||38||19||8||11||56||51||+5||65||Qualification for the Europa League play-off round|
- Tottenham Hotspur were initially to enter the Champions League play-off round. However, as Chelsea, the sixth-placed team of the league (who would have entered the Europa League at the group stage as winners of the 2011–12 FA Cup), won the 2011–12 UEFA Champions League, they automatically qualified for the following year's competition as title holders, and because of the restriction that no association can have more than four teams playing in the Champions League, Tottenham instead entered the Europa League group stage.
United entered the FA Cup at the Third Round stage with the other Premier League clubs, as well as those from the Championship. The Third Round draw was made on 4 December 2011, and gave United an away match against holders Manchester City. The tie was played on 8 January 2012, and was the 162nd Manchester derby ending in a 3–2 win for United. The match saw the dramatic return of Manchester United legend Paul Scholes from his retirement after last season's Champions League Final against Barcelona. Two goals from Wayne Rooney and one from Danny Welbeck saw United go 3–0 into the second half after Vincent Kompany was sent off after 12 minutes of first half play. However ten men Manchester City bounced back immediately after the break with a free kick from Aleksandar Kolarov followed by a close range goal from Sergio Agüero.
The draw for the Fourth Round took place on 8 January 2012, and gave United a tie against their other strong rivals Liverpool for the second successive season in the FA Cup. The match was played at Anfield on 28 January 2012. United lost 2–1. Daniel Agger's header put Liverpool in front, and Park Ji-sung equalised seven minutes before the break, but Dirk Kuyt's late winner ended United's hopes of winning the famous trophy. United had hit the post through Antonio Valencia in the first half. This loss meant that United still had not won the FA Cup since 2004, or even appeared in a final since 2007.
|Date||Round||Opponents||H / A||Result
|8 January 2012||Round 3||Manchester City||A||3–2||Rooney (2) 10', 40', Welbeck 30'||46,808|
|28 January 2012||Round 4||Liverpool||A||1–2||Park 39'||43,952|
As one of eight English clubs who qualified for European competition in the 2010–11 season, United received a bye to the Third Round of the League Cup. The draw took place on 27 August 2011, giving United a trip to Elland Road to take on fierce rivals Leeds United. The match took place on 20 September 2011, where United won 3–0. Sir Alex Ferguson handed a start to debutant Zeki Fryers, 18 years old, and twice early on, Dimitar Berbatov had to clear off the line. But that was the closest the hosts came to causing an upset, as Michael Owen opened the scoring on 15 minutes with a scuffed shot and lashed home a second on 32. Ryan Giggs all but sealed the victory when he played a short corner to Park Ji-sung, got the return ball, nutmegged Robert Snodgrass, and shot past Andrew Lonergan via a deflection off Luciano Becchio. Late on, Ramón Núñez, a Leeds substitute, fluffed the chance to score a consolation for Leeds, firing wide.
The draw for the Fourth Round took place on 24 September 2011, and gave United a trip to the EBB Stadium to take on League Two side Aldershot Town. The match was played on 25 October 2011, with United once again winning 3–0, through goals from Dimitar Berbatov, Michael Owen, and Antonio Valencia.
The draw for the quarter-finals took place on 29 October 2011, and gave United a home match against Championship side Crystal Palace. Crystal Palace took the lead in the 65th minute, with a 40-yard strike from Darren Ambrose. However their lead lasted less than 4 minutes, with Macheda equalising from the penalty spot, after he was fouled himself, in the 69th minute. Despite increasing Manchester United pressure, the match went to extra-time, where Crystal Palace scored a second, with a Glenn Murray header, to put them 2–1 ahead in the 98th minute. The game eventually ended 2–1, with Crystal Palace facing Cardiff City in Semi-final, a game which secured a Championship side in the final.
|Date||Round||Opponents||H / A||Result
|20 September 2011||Round 3||Leeds United||A||3–0||Owen (2) 15', 32', Giggs 45+1'||31,031|
|25 October 2011||Round 4||Aldershot Town||A||3–0||Berbatov 15', Owen 41', Valencia 48'||7,044|
|30 November 2011||Round 5||Crystal Palace||H||1–2 (a.e.t.)||Macheda 69' (pen.)||52,624|
UEFA Champions LeagueEdit
Manchester United began their Champions League campaign in the group stage after finishing in first place in the 2010–11 Premier League. The draw for the group stage was made on 25 August 2011. As one of the top eight-ranked teams in Europe, the club was seeded in Pot 1, meaning that they would avoid being drawn with defending champions Barcelona, as well as Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, Porto, Real Madrid and the other three English clubs, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City. The draw eventually paired United with two previous opponents, Benfica and Swiss champions Basel, and one new opponent, Romanian champions Oțelul Galați.
United's first UEFA Champions League group game was away to Benfica on 14 September 2011, which ended in a 1–1 draw. Nicolás Gaitán's delightful long pass picked out Óscar Cardozo in the 24th minute, and he controlled on his chest then finished from 16 yards. But three minutes before half-time, Ryan Giggs cut inside from the right and fired a 20-yard strike to equalise. United goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard saved from Nolito and Gaitán late on.
United's next game in the Champions League was a home game against Basel. Two goals from Danny Welbeck in the 16th and 17th minutes looked to have put United in control. Welbeck's first goal came when he scuffed a shot in off the post, and the England forward's second was a far more convincing strike from Ryan Giggs' cross. Fabian Frei shot in off the post on 58 minutes to give Basel hope, and Alexander Frei's header, aided by awful defending from Rio Ferdinand, made it 2–2. With 15 minutes remaining, Basel were awarded a penalty and Alexander Frei sent David de Gea the wrong way to give Basel a shock lead and leave United on the brink of a first home defeat in almost 18 months. In the 90th minute, however, Ashley Young headed home Nani's cross at the back post to rescue a point. United could have earned all three points had substitute Dimitar Berbatov not shot into the side-netting rather than play it along the ground for a tap-in. Instead, United were forced to settle for a point, as they went down to third in Group C. This was the first time since 1999 that United had failed to win either of their first two Champions League group stage matches.
United went on to win both their fixtures against Oțelul Galați 2–0, with two penalties, both scored by Wayne Rooney, leading United to victory away from home, and an early goal from Antonio Valencia and a late own goal from Cristian Sârghi to ensure a 2–0 United victory at Old Trafford. A 2–2 draw in Matchday 5 against Benfica, however, and an unlikely 2–1 loss against Basel at St. Jakob-Park meant that United failed to progress past the group stage of the Champions League for only the third time in 17 years.
According to football finance blogger Andy Green (a.k.a. "andersred"), United's failure to progress beyond the group stage of the Champions League could cost them up to £20 million, mostly in lost TV revenue.
|Date||Opponents||H / A||Result
|14 September 2011||Benfica||A||1–1||Giggs 42'||63,822||2nd|
|27 September 2011||Basel||H||3–3||Welbeck (2) 16', 17', Young 90'||73,115||3rd|
|18 October 2011||Oțelul Galați||A||2–0||Rooney (2) 64' (pen.), 90+2' (pen.)||28,047||2nd|
|2 November 2011||Oțelul Galați||H||2–0||Valencia 8', Sârghi 87' (o.g.)||74,847||1st|
|22 November 2011||Benfica||H||2–2||Berbatov 30', Fletcher 59'||74,873||2nd|
|7 December 2011||Basel||A||1–2||Jones 89'||36,894||3rd|
UEFA Europa LeagueEdit
As one of the top four of the eight third-placed Champions League teams, United were seeded for the Round of 32 draw which took place at 12:00 GMT on 16 December 2011. United were drawn against Ajax. The only previous meeting between the two sides came in the 1st Round of the same competition in the 1976–77 season, United winning 2–1 on aggregate.
United were away from home for the first leg on 16 February 2012. United won the game 2–0. United struggled to get going in the first half, and David de Gea produced a brilliant save to deny Siem de Jong. But the Red Devils looked far stronger after the break, and Ashley Young put them ahead with a drilled finish. Javier Hernández doubled the lead late on to ensure that United took two away goals with them into the second leg at Old Trafford.
The return leg was at Old Trafford on 23 February 2012. United lost 2–1 (their fourth home loss of the season, having lost none at home the previous season), but went through 3–2 on aggregate. The Red Devils took the lead through Javier Hernández's finish following Dimitar Berbatov's fine pass. Aras Özbiliz levelled for Ajax from 20 yards. Toby Alderweireld headed home the winner with three minutes to go, but the goal came too late.
United had only met Athletic Bilbao once before, in their debut season in European football. They met in the quarter-finals of the European Cup in the 1956–57 season. Matt Busby's babes lost 5–3 in Spain, before winning 3–0 at Maine Road – Old Trafford was not equipped with floodlights at that time – to progress 6–5 on aggregate. The second leg was played on 6 February 1957, and the majority of the players who played that day would perish exactly a year later in the Munich air disaster.
The first leg of the tie against Athletic Bilbao ended in a 3–2 defeat for United at Old Trafford on 8 March 2012. Wayne Rooney smashed United ahead from close range, before Fernando Llorente's header drew the visitors level. But the cavalier Spaniards refused to settle for a draw, as United failed to win yet another European home game. The hosts were stunned by two controversial second-half goals from Óscar de Marcos – who appeared to be offside from Ander Herrera's lofted pass – and Iker Muniain – whose goal resulted from a free-kick awarded after Patrice Evra kicked the ball with only one boot on – before a late consolation by Rooney from the penalty spot softened the blow as United succumbed to their fifth home defeat of the season.
United travelled to the San Mamés Stadium for the second leg of tie, on 15 March 2012. Having lost the first leg, United needed to win at least 2–0 to progress. However, United lost 2–1 on the night and 5–3 on aggregate, meaning that they tumbled out of Europe. Iker Muniain hit the post, before Fernando Llorente scored with a volley from Fernando Amorebieta's raking diagonal pass. Ryan Giggs then headed wide, but Óscar de Marcos put further daylight between the sides when he crashed in. Wayne Rooney scored from 25 yards late on, but it was merely a consolation.
|Date||Round||Opponents||H / A||Result
|16 February 2012||Round of 32
|Ajax||A||2–0||Young 59', Hernández 85'||48,866|
|23 February 2012||Round of 32
|8 March 2012||Round of 16
|Athletic Bilbao||H||2–3||Rooney (2) 22', 90+2' (pen.)||59,265|
|15 March 2012||Round of 16
|Athletic Bilbao||A||1–2||Rooney 80'||40,000|
|No.||Pos.||Name||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Other||Total||Discipline|
|1||GK||David de Gea||29||0||1||0||0||0||8||0||1||0||39||0||0||0|
|30||DF||Ritchie De Laet||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|32||FW||Mame Biram Diouf||0||0||0||0||3||0||0||0||0||0||3||0||1||0|
Manchester United's first two departures of the 2011–12 off-season were Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar and English midfielder Paul Scholes, who both retired shortly after the end of the 2010–11 season. On 1 July, three players were released by the club: English midfielder Owen Hargreaves, Northern Irish goalkeeper Conor Devlin and English defender Oliver Gill. Four days later, Nicky Ajose was allowed to move to Peterborough United for an undisclosed fee. He was followed two days later by veteran defenders Wes Brown and John O'Shea, who were both offered four-year contracts at Sunderland. The final departure of the summer was French forward Gabriel Obertan, who signed a five-year contract with Newcastle United after the clubs agreed an undisclosed fee.
The club's first signing of the summer came on 13 June 2011 in the form of Blackburn Rovers centre-back Phil Jones. He was followed ten days later by Aston Villa winger Ashley Young. But with the departure of Van der Sar, the club needed a long-term replacement for him in goal, and a deal was done to sign young Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea from Atlético Madrid. Unlike Van der Sar, however, Paul Scholes' retirement was not permanent, and he returned to the club in January 2012 to alleviate the club's injury crisis. The only other arrival in January was young Swiss defender Freddie Veseli, signed from cross-town rivals Manchester City.
Four players left Manchester United during the January transfer window. First to depart was Irish midfielder Darron Gibson who signed for Everton for an undisclosed fee on 13 January. A week later, after spending the first half of the season on loan to Barnsley, Danny Drinkwater was bought by Leicester City also for an undisclosed fee. The last two players to leave were Mame Biram Diouf, who joined Hannover 96 on 28 January, and Ravel Morrison, who made a deadline day move to West Ham United. Italian defender Alberto Massacci was released from his contract on 23 April.
|13 June 2011||DF||Phil Jones||Blackburn Rovers||Undisclosed|
|23 June 2011||MF||Ashley Young||Aston Villa||Undisclosed|
|29 June 2011||GK||David de Gea||Atlético Madrid||Undisclosed|
|8 January 2012||MF||Paul Scholes||Unattached||Free|
|31 January 2012||DF||Freddie Veseli||Manchester City||Undisclosed|
|28 May 2011||GK||Edwin van der Sar||Retired|
|31 May 2011||MF||Paul Scholes||Retired|
|1 July 2011||MF||Owen Hargreaves||Released|
|1 July 2011||GK||Conor Devlin||Released|
|1 July 2011||DF||Oliver Gill||Released|
|5 July 2011||FW||Nicky Ajose||Peterborough United||Undisclosed|
|7 July 2011||DF||Wes Brown||Sunderland||Undisclosed|
|7 July 2011||DF||John O'Shea||Sunderland||Undisclosed|
|9 August 2011||FW||Gabriel Obertan||Newcastle United||Undisclosed|
|13 January 2012||MF||Darron Gibson||Everton||Undisclosed|
|20 January 2012||MF||Danny Drinkwater||Leicester City||Undisclosed|
|28 January 2012||FW||Mame Biram Diouf||Hannover 96||Undisclosed|
|31 January 2012||MF||Ravel Morrison||West Ham United||Undisclosed|
|23 April 2012||DF||Alberto Massacci||Released|
|Date from||Date to||Pos.||Name||To|
|16 June 2011||30 June 2012||FW||Bebé||Beşiktaş|
|17 June 2011||18 January 2012||DF||Ritchie De Laet||Norwich City|
|1 July 2011||29 February 2012||MF||Ryan Tunnicliffe||Peterborough United|
|1 July 2011||23 January 2012||DF||Scott Wootton||Peterborough United|
|19 July 2011||30 June 2012||MF||Robbie Brady||Hull City|
|2 August 2011||4 January 2012||FW||Joshua King||Borussia Mönchengladbach|
|16 August 2011||10 September 2011||DF||Reece Brown||Doncaster Rovers|
|23 August 2011||19 January 2012||MF||Danny Drinkwater||Barnsley|
|24 August 2011||2 January 2012||MF||Oliver Norwood||Scunthorpe United|
|31 August 2011||30 June 2012||MF||Gladestony||Twente|
|9 September 2011||10 January 2012||GK||Sam Johnstone||Scunthorpe United|
|2 January 2012||30 June 2012||FW||Federico Macheda||Queens Park Rangers|
|13 January 2012||30 June 2012||FW||John Cofie||Royal Antwerp|
|16 January 2012||30 June 2012||FW||Joshua King||Hull City|
|31 January 2012||30 June 2012||DF||Scott Wootton||Nottingham Forest|
|31 January 2012||30 June 2012||MF||Oliver Norwood||Coventry City|
|21 February 2012||30 June 2012||GK||Tomasz Kuszczak||Watford|
|27 February 2012||12 March 2012||DF||Sean McGinty||Morecambe|
|2 March 2012||5 May 2012||DF||Reece Brown||Oldham Athletic|
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