1973/74 - Manchester United | Manchester United News
1973/74 – Manchester United

Manchester United squad picture 1973

The 1973–74 season was Manchester United‘s 71st season in the Football League, and their 29th consecutive season in the top division of English football.

It was the first full season in charge for managerTommy Docherty, who had been appointed the previous December following the dismissal of Frank O’Farrell.

Denis Law left on a free transfer during the close season to sign for Manchester City, which sparked some protests among fans. George Best came out of retirement once more to sign with the team for the 1973–74 season.

United were again caught in a relegation battle and entered the penultimate game of the season needing to win two games and for Birmingham City to lose in order to stay in the First Division. Birmingham won their game and Denis Law, playing for City against United, sealed United’s fate with the only goal of the game, although Birmingham’s victory meant that United would have been relegated regardless of their own result. Manchester United were relegated to the Second Division after 36 years away.

By the time the season was over, George Best had finally walked out of United for good, playing his last game on New Year’s Day 1974, although he did not actually leave the club until the following season when he was finally given a free transfer and signed for Stockport County.

While the club’s start to the season had already been unimpressive, their ultimate downfall proved to be a dreadful run where the club won just twice in five months. Despite this they managed an impressive late season run which left the Old Trafford faithful believing that a miracle survival act could be pulled off. Unfortunately though, United stumbled as the season drew to an end, losing their last three games (all three of which would have needed to be won in order to attain survival) with the death blow being struck by bitter rivals Manchester City in the penultimate match of the season.

At the end of the season, United finished in the 21st place in the league and were relegated to the Second Division. In spite of their relegation, the club’s directors decided not to sack Docherty, placing their confidence in him to restore their First Division status at the first attempt.

Bright spots from the season were the emergence of Brian Greenhoff and also Martin Buchan developing into a fine centre half.

First Division

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Date Opponents H / A Result

F – A

Scorers Attendance
25 August 1973 Arsenal A 0 – 3 51,501
29 August 1973 Stoke City H 1 – 0 James 43,614
1 September 1973 Queens Park Rangers H 2 – 1 Holton, McIlroy 44,156
5 September 1973 Leicester City A 0 – 1 29,152
8 September 1973 Ipswich Town A 1 – 2 Anderson 22,023
12 September 1973 Leicester City H 1 – 2 Stepney 40,793
15 September 1973 West Ham United H 3 – 1 Kidd (2), Storey-Moore 44,757
22 September 1973 Leeds United A 0 – 0 47,058
29 September 1973 Liverpool H 0 – 0 53,882
6 October 1973 Wolverhampton Wanderers A 1 – 2 McIlroy 32,962
13 October 1973 Derby County H 0 – 1 43,724
20 October 1973 Birmingham City H 1 – 0 Stepney 48,937
27 October 1973 Burnley A 0 – 0 31,976
3 November 1973 Chelsea H 2 – 2 Greenhoff, Young 48,036
10 November 1973 Tottenham Hotspur A 1 – 2 Best 42,756
17 November 1973 Newcastle United A 2 – 3 Graham, Macari 41,768
24 November 1973 Norwich City H 0 – 0 36,338
8 December 1973 Southampton H 0 – 0 31,648
15 December 1973 Coventry City H 2 – 3 Best, Morgan 28,589
22 December 1973 Liverpool A 0 – 2 40,420
26 December 1973 Sheffield United H 1 – 2 Macari 38,653
29 December 1973 Ipswich Town H 2 – 0 Macari, McIlroy 36,365
1 January 1974 Queens Park Rangers A 0 – 3 32,339
12 January 1974 West Ham United A 1 – 2 McIlroy 34,147
19 January 1974 Arsenal H 1 – 1 James 38,589
2 February 1974 Coventry City A 0 – 1 25,313
9 February 1974 Leeds United H 0 – 2 60,025
16 February 1974 Derby County A 2 – 2 Greenhoff, Houston 29,987
23 February 1974 Wolverhampton Wanderers H 0 – 0 39,260
2 March 1974 Sheffield United A 1 – 0 Macari 29,203
13 March 1974 Manchester City A 0 – 0 51,331
16 March 1974 Birmingham City A 0 – 1 37,768
23 March 1974 Tottenham Hotspur H 0 – 1 36,278
30 March 1974 Chelsea A 3 – 1 Daly, McIlroy, Morgan 29,602
3 April 1974 Burnley H 3 – 3 Forsyth, Holton, McIlroy 33,336
6 April 1974 Norwich City A 2 – 0 Greenhoff, Macari 28,223
13 April 1974 Newcastle United H 1 – 0 McCalliog 44,751
15 April 1974 Everton H 3 – 0 McCalliog (2), Houston 48,424
20 April 1974 Southampton A 1 – 1 McCalliog 30,789
23 April 1974 Everton A 0 – 1 46,093
27 April 1974 Manchester City H 0 – 1 56,996
29 April 1974 Stoke City A 0 – 1 27,392
Pos Club Pld W D L GF GA GAvg Pts
20 Southampton 42 11 14 17 47 68 0.691 36
21 Manchester United 42 10 12 20 38 48 0.792 32
22 Norwich City 42 7 15 20 37 62 0.597 29

Pld = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; GF = Goals for; GA = Goals against; GAvg = Goal average; Pts= Points

FA Cup

Date Round Opponents H / A Result

F – A

Scorers Attendance
5 January 1974 Round 3 Plymouth Argyle H 1 – 0 Macari 31,810
26 January 1974 Round 4 Ipswich Town H 0 – 1 37,177

League Cup

Date Round Opponents H / A Result

F – A

Scorers Attendance
8 October 1973 Round 2 Middlesbrough H 0 – 1 23,906
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