History of Manchester United 2000-Present

2000-Present

United won the league in 2000 and 2001 but the press saw these seasons as failures as they failed to regain the European Cup. In 2000, Manchester United became one of 14 founder members of the G-14 group of leading European football clubs. The club also declined to take part in the 19992000 FA Cup, instead competing in the inaugural FIFA Club World Championship in Brazil, citing pressure from the FA, UEFA and the England 2006 World Cup bid committee. Ferguson adopted more defensive tactics to make United harder to beat in Europe but it was not a success and United finished the 200102 Premier League season in third place. They regained the league the following season (200203) and started the following season well, but their form dropped significantly when Rio Ferdinand received a controversial eight month suspension for missing a drugs test. They did win the 2004 FA Cup, however, knocking out Arsenal (that season's eventual league champions) on their way to the final in which they beat Millwall.

The 200405 season was characterised by a failure to score goals, mainly due to the injury of striker Ruud van Nistelrooy and United finished the season trophyless and in third place in the league. This time, even the FA Cup eluded them as Arsenal beat United on penalties after a goalless draw after 120 minutes. Off the pitch, the main story was the possibility of the club being taken over and on 12 May 2005, American businessman Malcolm Glazer acquired a controlling interest in the club through his investment vehicle Red Football Ltd. in a takeover valuing the club at approximately 800 million (then approx. $1.5 billion). On 16 May, he increased his share to the 75% necessary to de-list the club from the Stock Exchange, making it private again, and announced his intention to do so within 20 days. On 8 June, he appointed his sons to the Manchester United board as non-executive directors.

United made a poor start to the 200506 season, with midfielder Roy Keane leaving the club to join Celtic after publicly criticising several of his team-mates, and the club failed to qualify for the knockout phase of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in over a decade after losing to Portuguese team Benfica. Their season was also dealt cruel blows with injuries to key players such as Gabriel Heinze, Alan Smith, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes. However, they were prevented from being left empty-handed in successive seasons a disappointment not endured in the last 17 years by winning the 2006 League Cup, beating newly promoted neighbours Wigan Athletic in the final 40. United also ensured a second-place finish and automatic Champions League qualification on the final day of the season by defeating Charlton Athletic 40. At the end of the 200506 season, one of United's key strikers, Ruud van Nistelrooy, left the club to join Real Madrid, due to a row with Alex Ferguson.

In July 2006, the club announced a refinancing package. The total amount will be 660 million, on which interest payments will be £62 million a year. This result of this new financing plan will be a 30% reduction of annual payments. On the pitch, the 200607 season saw United return to the attacking style of football that was the cornerstone of their years of success in the late 1990s, scoring almost 20 more goals in 32 matches than second placed side Chelsea. In January 2007, United signed Henrik Larsson on a two-month loan from Swedish side Helsingborgs, and the striker played an important role in advancing United to the semi-finals of the Champions League, with hopes for a second Treble; however, upon reaching the semi-finals, United lost to Milan 35 on aggregate. Four years after their last title, United claimed back the Premier League title on 6 May 2007, after Chelsea drew away with Arsenal, leaving the Blues seven points behind with two games to go, following United's 10 victory in the Manchester derby the previous day, making it their ninth Premier League title in the 15 seasons of its existence. However, an unprecedented fourth Double was not to be, as Chelsea beat United 10 in extra time in the first FA Cup Final to be held at the new Wembley Stadium; the first to be held in England since the old stadium was demolished seven years earlier.

200708 saw United successfully complete the European double despite a poor start to the season, finding themselves in 17th place in the Premier League after three matches. However, on 11 May 2008, United retained the Premier League title with a win over Wigan Athletic. With title rivals Chelsea only able to draw with Bolton Wanderers, United finished the season two points clear. The club also reached the European Cup final for the third time in their history, having knocked out such clubs as Barcelona and Roma en-route to the final. They beat Chelsea 65 on penalties in the final in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, after a 11 draw in normal time on 21 May 2008. With this win, they earned their third European Cup title and kept up their record of never having lost a major European final. Coincidentally, this season marked the 100th year since Manchester United won their first League title, 50 years after the Munich air disaster and 40 years after Manchester United became the first ever English side to win the European Cup. The European Cup final also saw Ryan Giggs make his 759th appearance for the club, overtaking Bobby Charlton as the club's record appearance maker.

Before the start of the 200809 season, United competed in and won the 2008 FA Community Shield. United beat 2007-08 FA Cup winners Portsmouth 3-1 on penalties, after the match finished 00 after 90 minutes. On 21 December 2008, United added more silverware to their trophy cabinet with a win in the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup Final, defeating the Ecuadorian side LDU Quito 10 in Japan, Wayne Rooney scoring the winning goal. Two months later, they added the 2009 League Cup to their trophy cabinet, after defeating Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 on penalties.