In terms of English top-flight titles, Manchester United Football Club are the most successful, having been crowned champions of England on 20 occasions.
While there have been peaks and troughs in their performances in their history, they are still considered by some as one of the biggest football clubs and brands in the world.
The Red Devils are also one of just six clubs who have been ever-present in the Premier League era, alongside Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur.
When were Manchester United last relegated?
You have to go back half a century for Manchester United’s last relegation when they suffered the drop from the First Division in season 1973/74.
The relegation was not United’s first in their history, as they suffered relegation from the top flight on four previous occasions in seasons 1893/94, 1921/22, 1930/31 and 1936/37.
Struggled to replace Sir Matt Busby
The relegation in 1974 came on the back of struggles to replace the legendary manager Sir Matt Busby, who had been in charge from 1945 until 1969, having survived the Munich Air disaster that killed many of his players and staff.
Busby was almost an impossible act to follow. Wilf McGuiness replaced the Scot, but the team struggled to replicate the glories of the past under Busby.
The Scottish boss stepped back into the breach for the second half of the 1970/71 campaign. Frank O’Farrell took over for the 1971/72 season.
However, the team managed to get themselves into a mess, and in December 1972, United sacked the Irish boss and drafted in former Chelsea chief Tommy Docherty. He steered the club to safety in the second half of the campaign.
Not so lucky the next season
United may have beaten the drop in season 1972/73, but they were not so lucky the following season, as they finished in 21st place in a 22-team English First Division. The demotion came just six years after United had been crowned as European champions in 1968.
One of the critical factors in their demotion was a lack of goals, as the Red Devils scored just 38 goals in their 42 games that season.
However, at the other end of the pitch, only six teams in the top flight had better defensive records than the men from Manchester.
For United, the pain of suffering relegated was heightened by the fact that former United hero Dennis Law scored the goal for city rivals Manchester City to send them down.
The Scottish forward scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0-win defeat at Old Trafford. The goal has become one of the most infamous in English football history.
The result wasn’t enough to end United’s 36-year stay in the top flight on its own. However, Birmingham City’s victory elsewhere on the same day was enough to consign United to life in the second tier of English football.
United make a quick return to the top-flight
The Red Devils stuck with boss Docherty despite their relegation, and United quickly returned to the English top flight, winning the second-tier title.
Once again, the Red Devils were strong in defence, as they had the best defensive record in the Second Division, conceding just 30 goals in their 42 outings. Only runners-up Aston Villa scored more goals than United in their promotion season.
A return to the First Division and glory
Since returning to the English top-flight, United’s lowest finish in the table was 13th place in season 1989/90.
In the Premier League era, United have been crowned champions 13 times, all under the expert guidance of the now-legendary Sir Alex Ferguson, whose long reign as Red Devils boss from 1986-2013 inevitably grew comparisons to that of his compatriot Sir Matt Busby.
United have never even come close to suffering relegation from the English top flight during the Premier League era, with their lowest finish coming in season 2013/14, when they finished in seventh place in the table. The season was the first after the retirement of Sir Alex.
Like after the exit of Sir Matt Busby, Manchester United has struggled to find an adequate replacement for a long-serving Scottish boss who inspired his team to glory at home and abroad.
However, unlike in the 1970s though, United’s problems have not resulted in a spell in the second tier. Despite their struggles for success in recent seasons, it seems unlikely that the Red Devils will be plying their trade in the Championship anytime soon.