Saturday 2 Nov
In four clicks to Old Trafford
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Manchester United is officially the football club with the largest number of supporters in the world, and with the highest average number of spectators per home game. Following on from that, the club is one of the richest and most valuable football clubs on the planet. Estimates of the value of the club range from £1.1 to 1.6 billion. Both in the past and present, Manchester United has had many big-name players at the club. In recent history players have included Eric Cantona, Peter Schmeichel, Paul Scholes, the Neville Brothers and Christiano Ronaldo, all well-known faces of the club. Sir Alex Ferguson was appointed the trainer and manager of Manchester United in 1986. He brought the club great success after a long stagnant period. After nearly getting fired because of his disappointing performance in the season 1989-90, Ferguson won the FA Cup with United in 1990 and was therefore able to stay on. Alex Ferguson in his lounge Subsequently, Man U won the European Cup and then the European Supercup. In 1993, United became champions for the first time since 1967 and the following year they achieved the 'double' - the FA Cup and the Premier League. The 1998-99 season was the most successful season in the history of Manchester United when they achieved 'the treble', becoming the winners of the Premier League, FA Cup and the Champions League. That year, the final of the Champions League was one of the most historic games ever. United trailed 1-0 at the start of injury time. They scored two goals in injury time from Sheringham and Solskjaer, ensuring a dramatic finish to the match, which was against Bayern Munich. In subsequent years, Manchester has won the national title several times and they also won the Champions League in 2008 by defeating Chelsea in the final on penalties. The present owner of the club is the American, Malcolm Glazer, who in 2005 became sole owner. Many Manchester United fans were against this acquisition. Following the deal, the loans that Glazer had entered into to buy the club were transferred into the name of Manchester United, thus turning the once debt-free club into a club with huge debts. Also, prices of the tickets were raised considerably. There have been several protests against the current state of affairs in and around the club. One of the most striking and noticeable protests was the wearing of green-yellow (officially green-gold) scarves by the supporters as a sign of their displeasure. Manchester United Club History Manchester United was founded in 1878 by the employees of the local branch of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. The team played in the colours of the train company, green and gold, for the first few years. It was known as the Newton Heath LYR Football Club and it played mainly against other departments of the same or other train companies. After several years, the club became independent and the team played in a newly formed Football League. In 1902 it changed its name to Manchester United FC. Manchester United FC. The team played initially in the Second Division but were promoted to the First Division in 1906. In 1908 they won their first league title, winning the First Division, the current Premier League. The following year they won the FA Cup for the first time. In 1911 they were the First Division champions again. In the period between the First and Second World Wars, Manchester United was relegated and promoted twice and the club also failed to win any big prizes. In 1931, the club almost went bankrupt. In the years after World War II, Matt Busby took charge of the team and demanded control over team selection, player transfers and training. He led the team to take second place several times in the First Division and in 1948 they won the FA Cup. In 1953, for the first time in years, they again won the First Division. The average age of the team then was about 22 years. This led to the team nickname ‘The Busby Babes'. Manchester United was the first team to get permission from the union to participate in the European Cup. In 1958, on the way home after their victory in the quarterfinals against Red Star Belgrade, the plane with the players and officials of Manchester United crashed shortly after takeoff from Munich Airport after having refueled there. In the tragic accident 23 people lost their life, including eight players of Manchester United. Several people were injured. This accident is to this day still commemorated each year in the stadium. Matt Busby was among the wounded and had to relinquish the lead to his assistants. Once recovered, he began to rebuild his team by signing older players to combine with the next generation of youth players. He attracted many top players, including the legendary George Best. The team went on to win the FA Cup in 1963, and they won the Championship again in 1965 and 1967. In 1968 Manchester was the first English club to win the European Cup, defeating Benfica 4-1, in the finals. Matt Busby with European Cup, 1968 The major players at that time were George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton. After disappointing performances in the season after, Matt Busby was dismissed and after that the best players of Manchester United left as well. During the period until Alex Ferguson came to power in 1986, there were no more championships achieved despite the occasional big players, such as Bryan Robson. Under Tommy Docherty they reached the FA Cup Final in 1976 but lost to Southampton. However, United went on to win the FA Cup three times, in 1977, 1983 and 1985.
The sprawling city of Manchester is the UK’s third largest urban area, nicknamed the Capital of the North. It dates back to Roman times with records showing a Roman fort at \'Mancunium\'. In more recent times this gritty Victorian city has been noted for its trend-setting music scene, lively nightlife, scientific and engineering industries, railways, media links and sports events, especially the fabulous football clubs of Manchester United and Manchester City. Well-visited by tourists, the city is served by the Metrolink, a great way to get around the excellent shopping, theatres, international cuisine, cultural attractions, museums and art galleries, architecture, conference centres and sporting grounds.
Manchester lies in the northwest of England and is the UK’s third largest city. The city boomed during the Industrial Revolution when the Manchester Ship Canal was created, connecting it to the Mersey Estuary near Liverpool. This busy industrial city is known for its grand architecture, pop culture, shopping, media and sports club, particularly the rival football clubs of Manchester United and Manchester City.
Both teams are currently in the Premier League. While Man United’s home ground is historic Old Trafford, Manchester City plays at the newer Etihad Stadium. Both grounds offer guided tours and are a must for all true football fans, whether you follow “the Red Devils” or “the Citizens”.
Here are some top things to do when visiting Manchester:
Manchester United Stadium Tour
Old Trafford is the home of Manchester United F.C. and was built in 1909. It is now the second largest stadium in the UK after Wembley Stadium and has hosted many iconic games including the 1966 World Cup, 2012 summer Olympics and 2003 Champions League Finals. Legendary names such as Sir Matt Busby, Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Alex Ferguson and David Beckham are all associated with this historic football ground. Behind the scenes tours of the “Theatre of Dreams” take place daily from 9.40am to 4.30pm excluding match days. They take 70 minutes and pre-booking is recommended.
Location: Sir Matt Busby Way, Stretford 4 miles southwest of Manchester city centre
Manchester City Stadium Tour
Built in 2002 to host the Commonwealth Games, and sponsored by Etihad Airways, the Etihad Stadium is owned by Manchester City Council and leased by Manchester City F.C. The football club had previously been based at Maine Road stadium in Moss Side from 1923 to 2003 but they finally outgrew their old home.
Behind-the-scenes tours of the Etihad Stadium include the changing rooms, briefing room and walking up the Players’ Tunnel to the pitch. Stadium Tours and Matchday Tours are led by professional guides or opt for a Special Guest Tour led by Paul Lake. There’s a CityStore shop and souvenir photos are available.
Location: Etihad Stadium, Etihad Campus, Manchester M11 3FF Part of SportCity on Ashton New Road, Manchester 2.5 miles east of Manchester City Centre.
National Football Museum
A visit to Manchester provides fans with the chance to visit the acclaimed National Football Museum in the heart of the city. Open daily 10am to 5pm with free entry, it’s a football lover’s dream. Explore the Football Walk of Fame, the Fans Exhibit, see trophies, and learn about clubs, stadiums and players from all over the world. Try the virtual penalty shootout against your favourite keeper, enjoy the Pele Story and end your visit in the Rabbit in the Moon Restaurant.
Location: Urbis Building, Cathedral Gardens, Manchester City Centre
Manchester Micro Breweries
Manchester produces some wonderful craft beer and you can walk to some of the bars that serve these local ales. Try Port Street Beer House, the Piccadilly Tap (run by the team behind London's Euston Tap) and Beermoth, all located just a short walk from Piccadilly Gardens. If you’re in search of a true Manchester brew try Blackjack Brewery’s Smithfield Market Tavern (just next to Band on the Wall), Seven Bro7hers’ Bar in Ancoats, or the historic Marble Arch pub on Rochdale Road, which showcases Marble’s newest beers. If you want to smaple a range of beers straight form the tank the industrial area of Manchester east of Piccadilly is home to well-known names including Alphabet, Runaway and Cloudwater.
Located between George Street and Faulkner Street is Manchester’s Chinatown, complete with brightly coloured arched entrance of dragons. It is a fabulous area for shopping and is a great place to enjoy authentic Chinese cuisine.
Location: Chinatown, Faulkner Street Manchester
Getting there by bus: Bus nos. 34, 85, 86 all serve this area.
Dating back in part to the 15th century, this massive Cathedral in the heart of the city hosts many important national events. It has a useful Visitor Centre. Inside the impressive building, there are beautifully carved choir stalls and magnificent stained glass windows.
Location: Manchester Cathedral, Victoria Street, Manchester M3 1SX
Getting there by bus: Nos. 34, 85, 86
John Rylands Library, Deansgate
Arguably the most beautiful building in the city, the John Rylands Library has many Gothic architectural features and houses a collection of early-print books and local archives. It includes the Manchester fragment, the earliest known part of the New Testament.
Location: The John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3EH
Manchester city centre has some great shopping including Harvey Nichols and Selfridges department stores and the Arndale Centre. However, the serious shopper should head for the Trafford Centre just outside the city which has 280 shops on three floors. What really makes it stand out is the opulent architecture, marble flooring, paintings, sculptures and artefacts.
Location: Trafford Centre, Regent Cres, Stretford, Manchester M17 8AA
If you are flying into Manchester Airport, take time to visit one of the few surviving Concorde airplanes on display at the Runway Visitor Park. This was the world’s first supersonic airliner and you can take guided tours and view the aircraft, which is now a museum piece. The airport also offers guided tours behind-the-scenes of this important hub.
Location: Manchester Airport is located via the M56 at Junction 5. (SatNav: M90 1QX)
Manchester Museum, Oxford Road
Highlights of this extensive museum include a collection of Egyptology, painted mummy masks and a fossil skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Location: Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays
Another dramatic glass and steel building and another art collection. This one features over 300 original paintings by the local artist Lawrence Stephen Lowry. His depiction of 19th century Manchester with two-dimensional “Matchstick men” was also immortalized in a well-known song.
Location: Pier 8, The Quays, Salford M50 3AZ