Thu 08 July 2021 | 4:30

Manchester United Managers History

In the following article we will review Manchester United managers history, from Ernest Mangnall to glorious days under Sir Alex Ferguson.

Founded in 1878,

Manchester United

is one of the greatest clubs in England and Europe history. The English club, which is based in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, has won more trophies than any other club in English football. The Red Devils are one of the most successful clubs in the world for two reasons. The first is their ability to attract the world's biggest talents, and the second is the club's ability to bring the best managers to Old Trafford. 

The club's prosperity in its golden days is not only due to the hiring of the best managers, but the club's support for its managers and giving them enough time is the reason for their success. Sir Alex Ferguson, the Scotsman, is regarded as one of the most successful managers in the history of the club with 38 trophies, including 13 Premier League titles, 2 UEFA Champions Leagues, and 5 FA Cups. Despite Sir Alex Ferguson’s fabled achievements, many of Man United's fans believe that Sir Matt Busby, the other the club's great Scot is the best Man United manager. The Red Devils also had a glorious spell under Sir Matt Busby, who faced great adversity and built a side known as the Busby Babes.

Throughout its 143 years history, some coaches did not achieve any trophy. Following the departure of Scottish manager, Sir Alex Ferguson back in 2013, Man United has gone through a bit of a mess. It seems things be up under current manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the club legend. So who are the managers who have an influential role in the club's success? You are about to find out in the Sportmob's article on

Manchester United managers history


Everything you would like to know about Manchester United managers history

Let's take a look at the best and worst Manchester United managers of all time.

Best Manchester United Managers of all time

In this part of our article, we will present a countdown to the best Manchester United managers of all time, including Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson.

Ernest Mangnall (1903-1912)

One of the best managers in the list of Manchester United managers history is Ernest Mangnall. Manchester United's fan might not be familiar with the Englishman name especially he was in charge of the club many lifetimes ago. Mangnall, one of

Manchester United's most successful managers in history

, is recognized as Manchester United’s third most successful manager with one FA Cup, two First Division titles, and two Charity Shield trophies. He began his career in Red Devils in 1903, and after 471 games at Old Trafford, the English manager made a controversial move to Manchester City, United’s arch-rivals, in 1912.

In the 1910-11 season, Man United became champions again; it would be the Red Devils' last league title for over 40 years (its longest ever run without a league title).

When he began his job as a new Man City's head coach, the media focussed mostly on the Englishman. Despite becoming the Red Devils rival's manager, his contributions to the red half of Manchester will be etched in the club’s history.

Tommy Docherty (1972-1977)

The Doc may not have won many trophies, but he made fundamental changes to the team, becoming an influential part of their history. The Scotsman attended a match that Manchester United lost to Crystal Palace; after the game, Tommy Docherty was handed the job by Matt Busby, legendary United manager.

His first game as a Manchester United manager was against Leeds United at Old Trafford. Due to an aging squad, he had a severe problem at first, however, Docherty managed to keep them in the First Division in the 1972-73 season.

The following season the English club continue to struggle, but they were eventually relegated to the Second Division. It was then the Doc rebuild the squad, and United became Second Division champions, returning to the top tier of English football just a year later. In 1977 Tommy Docherty led the Red Devils to an FA Cup triumph; however, his affair with Laurie Brown, the wife of United’s physiotherapist, became public and caused him to be sacked in July. Although, the way he left Man United was not good, the Man United fans can never forget numerous things he brought to the team.

Ron Atkinson (1981-1986)

Big Ron is one of Manchester United's most successful managers in history, and he was one of the men to restore United to their glory days. Before Atkinson taking over Red Devils in 1981, United had finished eighth in the previous season. In his first season, Big Ron led Man United the UEFA Cup and finished third in the First Division. In fact, the Englishman brought European football back to Old Trafford and achieved famous victories over Diego Maradona’s

FC Barcelona


Big Ron also bought several terrific players such as Bryan Robson, Remi Moses, and Frank Stapelton to Old Trafford. It is worth mentioning that Robson moved to Man United for a British record fee of £1.5 million from West Brom.

One of the highlights moments of his spell as Manchester United's head coach came in the 1985-86 season. They began that season with ten consecutive victories and were unbeaten after their first 15 games, building a comfortable lead at the top of the table that lasted into the new year.

It is interesting to know that most of the teams that United defeated in their 10-match winning at the start of the season could not finish anywhere at the top of the league. On November 6th, 1986, the Englishman was sacked by the club after a disappointing start to the 1986-87 season. Ron Atkinson helped the English club win 2 FA Cups and 1 Charity Shield; he was replaced with a certain Scotsman.

Sir Alex Ferguson (1986-2013)

Sir Alex Ferguson, a man who needs no introduction, is giant on the list of

most successful Manchester United managers of all time

. On 6 November 1986, Sir Alex was named as a manager at Old Trafford, the same day Ron Atkinson was sacked. At first, he was worried that many of the players including, Bryan Robsonwere, Norman Whiteside, and Paul McGrath, were drinking too much.

During the first four years of his career as a Red Devils manager, he had to endure some heavy criticism, even after his first trophy with the club, which was the FA Cup, but fortunately, the club kept faith with the Scottish manager. At the beginning of the 90s, everything changed for Ferguson.

The Scot brought some talents who helped the club achieve the greatest of successes. The highlight of these successes was in May 1999, that famous night in Barcelona, where the Red Devils won the Champions League title.

Some talented footballers brought to Old Trafford by Sir Alex include Eric Cantona, Roy Keane, Peter Schmeichel, Andy Cole, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Dwight Yorke, Wayne Rooney, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Edwin Van Der Sar, Nemanja Vidic, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Rio Ferdinand. 

Ferguson's strong personality, as well as the winning mentality he enforced at the English club, is a testament to his greatness. Ferguson announced his retirement on 8 May 2013, winning 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, Football League Cup on four occasions, two UEFA Champions League titles, 1990-91 European Cup Winners' Cup, 1990 European Super Cup, one Intercontinental Cup, and 2008 FIFA Club World Cup during 26 years with Man United. So without a doubt, Sir Alex Ferguson is one of Manchester United's most successful managers in history.

Sir Matt Busby (1945-1969)

Sir Matt Busby is definitely one of the best managers in the list of Manchester United managers history. He was appointed as a Manchester United manager in 1945 and led United through the fearful post-war years. Sir Matt built a team known as the Busby Babes, which started the era of the club's glory. Then the tragedy happened in 1958 in form of the Munich Air Disaster, and eight of the Busby Babes died in the crash.

Sir Matt Busby had feelings of guilt over the disaster and had gone against the Football League officials' wishes by pressing for Manchester United's participation in the European Cup. He told his wife that he preferred to quit the manager's job, but Jean, his wife, urged him to continue in honor of the players who died.

The Scottish manager then rebuilt the squad for the second time, comprising of footballers such as Bobby Charlton, George Best, and Denis Law, known as the United Trinity. Finally, Busby's side became successful, as they won in the 1963 FA Cup Final over

Leicester City


The highlight of his career as Red Devils manager came on 29 May 1968 when they lifted the European Cup. At the end of the following season, the Scot announced his retirement, winning 13 trophies such as the First Division title on five occasions, two FA Cups, five FA Charity Shield titles, and one European Cup. In 1956, Busby showed his love for Manchester United by turning down the Real Madrid job and said: "Manchester is my heaven."

Worst Manchester United Managers of all Time

Let's take a look at to the list of

worst Manchester United managers of all time


John Bentley (1912-1914)

In 1912, the English manager left Bolton Wanderers to join Manchester United and Alongside being the club's secretary, he was also the manager of the club. Bentley was rather less successful in the role manager than his predecessor. Under John Bentley, Man United were almost on the verge of getting relegated to the second division. He left his post in 1914.

James West (1900-1903)

Not many people know who James West is, as there is little to no information about him on the web. According to League Managers, he was a full-time secretary of Newton Heath, which later formed into Manchester United. West had worked in that club since 1900. He managed to help the club overcome their financial losses. Without that happening, Manchester United would never have existed.

That said, James West was the man responsible for Newton Heath's rebirth as Manchester United on April 28, 1902. He continued his career as a secretary for another year before the club's first authorized boss took place.

Walter Crickmer (1937-1945)

One of the casualties in the Munich Air Disaster was the English secretary. Crickmer was appointed as Manchester United club secretary in 1926, and in the second period, he was named Man United's head coach. The English manager brought youth players to the senior side and revived the United youth system. Walter Crickmer served as club secretary for 32 years and was killed in the Munich air disaster on 6 February 1958.

Scott Duncan (1932-1937)

One of the worst managers in Manchester United managers is Scott Duncan. He was named the secretary-manager of Manchester United in June 1932. Although he spent a lot of money on players, in the 1933–34 season, the Red Devils were relegated to the Third Division. In the 1935–36 season, he led United to the Second Division championship, but they were relegated the following season.

David Moyes (2013-2014)

On May 9th, 2013, it was announced that David Moyes was replaced by Sir Alex Ferguson, but he held the position for ten months. In late April, at the time of being sacked, Man United was seventh with only four matches to go. Moyes guided the club into the quarter-finals on the Champions League, but they were knocked off by Bayern. In the third round of the FA Cup,


knocked Man United at Old Trafford. The Scot was in charge of the Red Devils only for ten months, the third-shortest managerial stint in the English club's history.

Some respected ex-Manchester United players, including David Beckham and Denis Law, protested the club's choice of sacking Moyes, calling for Moyes to be given more time at the club. Manchester United were seventh, 13 points behind fourth-placed Arsenal at the time of his sacking. David Moyes was replaced in the interim by Ryan Giggs, the long-serving player.

A complete list of Manchester United Managers

We wrap off our article on Manchester United managers history with a complete 

list of Manchester United managers

 from their First ever coach, A. H. Albut, to their current one, Ole Gunnar Solskjær.

  • A. H. Albut (1892 -1900) - No title

  • James West (1900 - September 1903) - No title

  • Ernest Mangnall (10 October 1903 - 9 September 1912) - 5 titles

  • T. J. Wallworth (9 September 1912 - 20 October 1912) - No title

  • John Bentley (28 October 1912 - 28 December 1914) - No title

  • Jack Robson (28 December 1914 - 31 October 1921) - No title

  • John Chapman (31 October 1921 - 8 October 1926) - No title

  • Lal Hilditch (8 October 1926 -13 April 1927) - No title

  • Herbert Bamlett (13 April 1927 - 9 November 1931) - No title

  • Walter Crickmer (9 November 1931 - 13 July 1932) - No title

  • Scott Duncan (13 July 1932 -7 November 1937) – one title

  • Walter Crickmer (9 November 1937 -15 February 1945) - No title

  • Matt Busby (1 October 1945 -4 June 1969) – 13 titles

  • Jimmy Murphy (February 1958 -June 1958) - No title

  • Wilf McGuinness (4 June 1969 -29 December 1970) - No title

  • Matt Busby (29 December 1970 -8 June 1971) - No title

  • Frank O'Farrell (8 June 1971 -19 December 1972) - No title

  • Tommy Docherty (22 December 1972 -4 July 1977) – 2 titles

  • Dave Sexton (14 July 1977 -30 April 1981) – one title

  • Ron Atkinson (9 June 1981 -6 November 1986) – 3 titles

  • Alex Ferguson (6 November 1986 -19 May 2013) – 38 titles

  • David Moyes (1 July 2013 -22 April 2014) – one title

  • Ryan Giggs (22 April 2014 -11 May 2014) - No title

  • Louis van Gaal (16 July 2014 -23 May 2016) – one title

  • Jose Mourinho (27 May 2016 -18 December 2018) – 3 titles

  • Ole Gunnar Solskjær (19 December 2018 –present)

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