After the formation of Manchester United F.C. the club played its first season as Manchester United in 1902/03. The cash inflow and a few new players gave the side the needed uplift and in 1903, United’s first team manager, J. Ernest Mangnall, was appointed.

Mangnall then led the club to its first successful period. He was a dynamic character and brought in a unique style of training where he kept the ball away from players during training to make them even keener to get hold of it on Saturdays. In 1904-05, United then set the record by going for 18 straight wins and finished third in the second division. In the next season 1905-06, United finally won promotion by coming second in the division. One of the most influential players that season was Billy Meredith, a winger who is considered the greatest player of that era.

Thereafter, United benefited from a scandal that hit Manchester City and Ernest Mangnall signed star players of their squad which included Herbert Burgess, Alec “Sandy” Turnbull, and Jimmy Bannister. With the influx of these players, United won their first League Championship in 1908. It was a landmark season with United playing quality football, scoring 82 goals (a then record) and even winning 10 games back-to-back. Such was their early domination that they ended the season with 7 straight defeats but still managed to be champions.

In 1909, they then won the only major English trophy that had eluded them. The FA Cup success was achieved by beating Bristol City in the final 1-0 which led to unprecedented scenes back in Manchester with 300,000 fans welcoming their victorious heroes. The ground at Clayton park, then achieved its finest hour when 30,000 fans waited inside it for the display of the trophy. By this time, the planning of Old Trafford as the new home of United was already started.

The 1909-10 season started with huge turbulence between the League and the Professional Footballers Union, which the United players had helped form. In 1909, finally the league decided to ban, without pay, all players who were union members. This was resisted by the United players and they refused to give up membership. It was at this time that the Outcasts F.C. picture was taken and slowly other players of different clubs joined in. Due to this increased pressure, the League gave in and recognised the union which exists till today.

The season though is more remembered for the fact that Davies once again pumped in £60,000, a huge sum at the time, to create the stadium at Old Trafford, a ground which would befit the success of the players. It was originally planned to have a capacity of 100,000 but was then revised to 60,000. The first game at Old Trafford was played on 19 February 1910 and Liverpool were our opponents. The team began well leading 2-0 but the part was spoiled by a 3-4 defeat. However, they recovered well and went unbeaten at home for 18 months thereafter.

United won the league again in 1911, a feat that we did not repeat for the next 40 years (our longest run without a League title). United then won the Charity Shield the following season which marked the last trophy of the Mangnall years. The Manager then left United for City in 1912 and without him, the team lost its way. They avoided relegation in 1914-15 by one point and in the 1915 British Football Betting Scandal, three united players were charged for fixing a match with Liverpool and were banned for life.

The Football League was then suspended when the First World War broke out in 1915 and the United player Sandy Turnbull was killed in France.


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