When it comes to English football, Manchester United are one of the most successful in terms of trophies and branding worldwide. They have gone through numerous ups and downs in their history.
However, during the Premier League era, the Red Devils have been the most successful club, mainly due to the management of legendary Scottish boss Sir Alex Ferguson, who was in the United hot seat for an extraordinary 26 and a half years, a record which is unlikely ever to be equalled in the modern game.
United won a record 13 titles in the Premier League era, all under Ferguson, starting in the inaugural Premier League season of 1992/93. All of the Red Devils titles in the current era came in a dominant two-decade spell, a period of dominance that has very rarely been seen by one team in the English top-flight. Their dominance was illustrated by the fact that they won the title in four of the first five seasons of the Premier League.
When was the last time United won the Premier League title?
Manchester United’s last Premier League title came in season 2012/13, the season in which Ferguson retired as head coach and moved upstairs at the club. The season didn’t start too well for United, as they suffered a 1-0 defeat at north west rivals Everton courtesy of a goal from Belgian international Marouane Fellaini, who later joined the Red Devils.
The second Premier League game of the season didn’t go to plan for United either, as Fulham opened the scoring at Old Trafford after just three minutes through a Damian Duff strike. However, United recovered to win the game courtesy of goals by Robin van Persie, Shinji Kagawa and Rafael. The victory proved to be the catalyst for the United’s title challenge.
The Red Devils enjoyed a strong Premier League campaign, finishing 11 points clear of second-place Manchester City, winning 28 of their 38 league games. The key to their title-winning campaign lay in their firepower, as United finished the season as the top goalscorers in the league, scoring 20 more goals than City and 11 more than Chelsea, who were the second-highest scorers in the division.
One player who played a key role was Dutch forward Robin van Persie, who scored 26 top-flight goals to claim the Premier League Golden Boot award while scoring 30 goals in all competitions. The season turned out to be the most prolific for the former Arsenal forward in a United shirt, although he had previously scored 30 goals in a top-flight season with the Gunners.
United’s strong attacking displays negated a defensive record that was the worst of any of the teams who finished in the league’s top-five that season. As the old adage states, attack is the best form of defence, and United’s 2012/13 season illustrated that perfectly.
Their success in the Premier League was at the expense of struggling in other competitions. Chelsea put the Red Devils to the sword in both the FA Cup and Carabao Cup in the sixth and fourth rounds, respectively. Meanwhile, they exited the Champions League in the last 16 against Real Madrid.
United’s failure to win the title since Ferguson’s exit
On 8th May, Sir Alex Ferguson announced that at the age of 71, he would retire from the game. The next day, the club announced that Ferguson’s compatriot and Everton boss, David Moyes, would be next in the United hot seat.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go well for the former Toffees boss, who lasted less than a year as United chief. Since Moyes’s exit, the Red Devils have seen many elite bosses fail to succeed, with the likes of Jose Mourinho, Luis van Gaal and Ralf Rangnick all occupying the managerial role at Old Trafford.
The closest that Manchester United have come to claiming the title since 2013 was in seasons 2017/18 and 2020/21, under Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, respectively.
The title win looking unlikely in the near future
The latest managerial appointment at Manchester United was highly-rated Dutch boss Erik ten Hag, who arrived from Ajax in the summer of 2022. He guided the team to a third-place finish in his debut season at Old Trafford, which was a solid start to his tenure. The season also saw United lift the League Cup.
However, at the time of writing, the Red Devils don’t look any closer to ending their decade search for a Premier League title, with their rivals seemingly moving further ahead and new clubs starting to establish themselves at the top of the table.