2002/03 - Manchester United | Manchester United News
2002/03 – Manchester United

David Beckham left Man Utd

The 2002–03 season was Manchester United‘s 11th season in the Premier League, and their 28th consecutive season in the top division of English football.

This season saw the club finish at the top of the Premier League table, after their lowest finish in the history of the Premier League the previous season, when they came third. In order to win the title, the team had to pull Arsenalback from an eight-point lead at the beginning of March. United also finished as runners-up in the League Cup, with Liverpool eventually taking the prize. The club also broke the English transfer record for the third time in just over a year as they paid £29.1 million for Leeds United defender Rio Ferdinand.

At the end of the season, United midfielder David Beckham decided to move to Real Madrid in a £25 million deal, having spent 12 years at United (eight of them as a first-team regular). Meanwhile, 37-year-old centre-back Laurent Blanc announced his retirement from playing. Fellow centre-back David May was finally given a free transfer after nine years at the club, the last five of which had seen his first team opportunities limited to a handful of appearances.

Season review

After ending the previous season by surrendering the title to Arsenal at home and finishing third behind rejuvenated Liverpool, Alex Ferguson reiterated his desire to dominate English football by signing a three-year contract in the late winter of 2002.

By the end of the season, Ferguson got his wish and bagged Manchester United their fifteenth domestic league title, thanks largely to the form of striker Ruud van Nistelrooy who scored an impressive 25 goals during the season.

The manager also assembled a new defence which included new signing Rio Ferdinand, who broke the transfer record for a defender and in English football.

The Red Devils started their quest to regain the Premier League title at home to newly promoted West Bromwich Albion and won all three points thanks to super-sub Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Results didn’t flow as Ferguson hoped and as early autumn approached, Manchester United got off to their worst start since the inauguration of the Premier League, lying in tenth place.

Things didn’t get better as losses to Bolton Wanderers and Leeds United were eclipsed by a derby day defeat to Manchester City in November which allowed a four point gap to open between themselves and leaders Liverpool. Following an empathic win against Newcastle United, the team embarked on a run of wins that included rivals Liverpool, struggling West Ham and champions Arsenal to help their Premier League challenge gather ominous momentum. Although they slumped to defeat on Boxing Day at Middlesbrough, the team were in third place, five points short of Arsenal at the turn of the year. This was the last game they lost and they remained unbeaten for the rest of the league season.

A series of late home wins against Sunderland and Chelsea in January helped pile the pressure somewhat on runaway leaders Arsenal, who were struggling with a minor goalkeeping crisis. After drawing at Bolton in the late evening kick-off, Arsenal had the chance to open a five point gap at the top of the Premier League summit if they won at Maine Road. A five-star performance ensured this through a rampant display of attacking football that virtually put one hand on the trophy. However the difference in the title race was whittled down to two after Blackburn completed a sensational double over the reigning champions at home while United recorded a victory over Aston Villa thanks to a David Beckham goal.

April began with a ruthless win at Old Trafford against Liverpool, which helped them reclaim top spot albeit temporarily. However, Kolo Touré‘s late own goal gifted Aston Villa a point when Arsenal perhaps should have taken all three. By the end of the week, just goal difference separated the top two, favouring the Gunners.

A rout against Newcastle, led up to the game of the season: against Arsenal at Highbury. A 2-2 draw didn’t prove decisive, but it was advantage Manchester United, who maintained a three-point lead, although the Gunners had a game in hand and a slightly superior goal difference. Despite more European disappointment – this time at the hands of Real Madrid through an impressive performance from Ronaldo – a comeback by Bolton Wanderers dented Arsenal’s hopes of regaining the double and installed Manchester United as sole favourites to win the league. They didn’t bluff, cruising to a home win against Charlton Athletic and clinching their eighth title in eleven seasons after Arsenal lost at home to Leeds a day later.

Manchester United wrapped up their successful league campaign with a 2-1 victory at Everton, David Beckham opened the scoring in what was his last appearance for the club.

Pre-season and friendlies

Date Opponents H/A Result

F–A

Scorers Attendance
20 July 2002 Shelbourne A 5–0 Van Nistelrooy (3) 17′, 20′, 63′, Forlán 22′, Yorke 60′ 10,000
27 July 2002 Chesterfield A 5–0 Blanc 19′, Van Nistelrooy 54′, Forlán 80′, Keane 83′, Richardson86′ 6,583
27 July 2002 Bournemouth A 3–2 Verón 33′, Muirhead 61′, Stewart 66′ 8,104
30 July 2002 Vålerenga A 2–1 Solskjær 26′ (pen.), Keane 84′ 25,572
2 August 2002 Ajax A 1–2 Scholes 78′ 48,000
4 August 2002 Parma N 3–0 Giggs 23′, Verón 50′, Solskjær 55′ 48,000
6 August 2002 Aarhus XI A 5–0 Van Nistelrooy (2) 44′, 80′, Solskjær 71′, Giggs 81′, Forlán 87′ 20,500
10 August 2002 Boca Juniors H 2–0 Van Nistelrooy (2) 23′, 40′ 56,724

Premier League

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 10.08.54

Date Opponents H/A Result

F–A

Scorers Attendance League

position

17 August 2002 West Bromwich Albion H 1–0 Solskjær 78′ 67,645 7th
23 August 2002 Chelsea A 2–2 Beckham 26′, Giggs 66′ 41,541 7th
31 August 2002 Sunderland A 1–1 Giggs 7′ 47,586 8th
3 September 2002 Middlesbrough H 1–0 Van Nistelrooy 28′ (pen.) 67,464 4th
11 September 2002 Bolton Wanderers H 0–1 67,623 7th
14 September 2002 Leeds United A 0–1 39,622 10th
21 September 2002 Tottenham Hotspur H 1–0 Van Nistelrooy 62′ (pen.) 67,611 8th
28 September 2002 Charlton Athletic A 3–1 Scholes 54′, Giggs 82′, Van Nistelrooy 90′ 26,630 4th
7 October 2002 Everton H 3–0 Scholes (2) 86′, 90′, Van Nistelrooy 90′ (pen.) 67,629 4th
19 October 2002 Fulham A 1–1 Solskjær 62′ 18,103 4th
26 October 2002 Aston Villa H 1–1 Forlán 77′ 67,619 4th
2 November 2002 Southampton H 2–1 P. Neville 15′, Forlán 85′ 67,691 3rd
9 November 2002 Manchester City A 1–3 Solskjær 7′ 34,649 5th
17 November 2002 West Ham United A 1–1 Van Nistelrooy 38′ 35,049 5th
23 November 2002 Newcastle United H 5–3 Scholes 25′, Van Nistelrooy (3) 38′, 45′, 53′,Solskjær 55′ 67,625 5th
1 December 2002 Liverpool A 2–1 Forlán (2) 63′, 66′ 44,250 4th
7 December 2002 Arsenal H 2–0 Verón 20′, Scholes 72′ 67,650 3rd
14 December 2002 West Ham United H 3–0 Solskjær 15′, Verón 17′, Schemmel 61′ (o.g.) 67,555 2nd
22 December 2002 Blackburn A 0–1 30,475 3rd
26 December 2002 Middlesbrough A 1–3 Giggs 60′ 34,673 3rd
28 December 2002 Birmingham City H 2–0 Forlán 37′, Beckham 73′ 67,640 3rd
1 January 2003 Sunderland H 2–1 Beckham 81′, Scholes 90′ 67,609 2nd
11 January 2003 West Bromwich Albion A 3–1 Van Nistelrooy 8′, Scholes 22′, Solskjær 55′ 27,129 2nd
18 January 2003 Chelsea H 2–1 Scholes 39′, Forlán 90′ 67,606 2nd
1 February 2003 Southampton A 2–0 Van Nistelrooy 15′, Giggs 22′ 32,085 2nd
4 February 2003 Birmingham City A 1–0 Van Nistelrooy 56′ 29,475 2nd
9 February 2003 Manchester City H 1–1 Van Nistelrooy 18′ 67,646 2nd
22 February 2003 Bolton Wanderers A 1–1 Solskjær 90′ 27,409 2nd
5 March 2003 Leeds United H 2–1 Radebe 20′ (o.g.), Silvestre 79′ 67,135 2nd
15 March 2003 Aston Villa A 1–0 Beckham 12′ 42,602 2nd
22 March 2003 Fulham H 3–0 Van Nistelrooy (3) 44′, 68′, 90′ 67,706 2nd
5 April 2003 Liverpool H 4–0 Van Nistelrooy (2) 5′ (pen.), 65′ (pen.), Giggs 78′,Solskjær 90′ 67,639 2nd
12 April 2003 Newcastle United A 6–2 Solskjær 32′, Scholes (3) 34′, 38′, 52′, Giggs 44′,Van Nistelrooy 58′ (pen.) 52,164 1st
16 April 2003 Arsenal A 2–2 Van Nistelrooy 24′, Giggs 63′ 38,164 1st
19 April 2003 Blackburn Rovers H 3–1 Van Nistelrooy 20′, Scholes (2) 42′, 61′ 67,626 1st
26 April 2003 Tottenham Hotspur A 2–0 Scholes 69′, Van Nistelrooy 90′ 36,073 1st
3 May 2003 Charlton Athletic H 4–1 Beckham 11′, Van Nistelrooy (3) 32′, 37′, 52′ 67,721 1st
11 May 2003 Everton A 2–1 Beckham 45′, Van Nistelrooy 79′ 40,168 1st
Pos Club Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Manchester United 38 25 8 5 74 34 +40 83
2 Arsenal 38 23 9 6 85 42 +43 78
3 Newcastle United 38 21 6 11 63 48 +15 69

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

FA Cup

Date Round Opponents H/A Result

F–A

Scorers Attendance
4 January 2003 Round 3 Portsmouth H 4–1 Van Nistelrooy (2) 5′ (pen.), 82′ (pen.), Beckham 16′,Scholes 89′ 67,222
26 January 2003 Round 4 West Ham United H 6–0 Giggs (2) 8′, 29′, Van Nistelrooy (2) 49′, 58′, P. Neville50′, Solskjær 69′ 67,181
15 February 2003 Round 5 Arsenal H 0–2 67,209

League Cup

Date Round Opponents H/A Result

F–A

Scorers Attendance
5 November 2002 Round 3 Leicester City H 2–0 Beckham 80′ (pen.), Richardson 90′ 47,848
3 December 2002 Round 4 Burnley A 2–0 Forlán 35′, Solskjær 65′ 22,034
17 December 2002 Round 5 Chelsea H 1–0 Forlán 80′ 57,985
7 January 2003 Semi-final

First leg

Blackburn Rovers H 1–1 Scholes 58′ 62,740
22 January 2003 Semi-final

Second leg

Blackburn Rovers A 3–1 Scholes (2) 30′, 42′, Van Nistelrooy 77′ (pen.) 29,048
2 March 2003 Final Liverpool N 0–2 74,500

UEFA Champions League

Third qualifying round

Date Round Opponents H/A Result

F–A

Scorers Attendance
14 August 2002 Third qualifying round

First leg

Zalaegerszeg A 0–1 40,000
27 August 2002 Third qualifying round

Second leg

Zalaegerszeg H 5–0 Van Nistelrooy (2) 6′, 76′ (pen.), Beckham 15′,Scholes 21′, Solskjær 84′ 66,814

Group stage

Date Opponents H/A Result

F–A

Scorers Attendance Group

position

18 September 2002 Maccabi Haifa H 5–2 Giggs 10′, Solskjær 35′, Verón 46′, Van Nistelrooy 54′,Forlán 89′ (pen.) 63,439 2nd
24 September 2002 Bayer Leverkusen A 2–1 Van Nistelrooy (2) 31′, 44′ 22,500 1st
1 October 2002 Olympiacos H 4–0 Giggs 19′, Verón 26′, Anatolakis 66′ (o.g.), Solskjær77′ 66,902 1st
23 October 2002 Olympiacos A 3–2 Blanc 21′, Verón 59′, Scholes 84′ 13,220 1st
29 October 2002 Maccabi Haifa A 0–3 22,000 1st
13 November 2002 Bayer Leverkusen H 2–0 Verón 42′, Van Nistelrooy 69′ 66,185 1st
Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
Manchester United 6 5 0 1 16 8 +8 15
Bayer Leverkusen 6 3 0 3 9 11 −2 9
Maccabi Haifa 6 2 1 3 12 12 0 7
Olympiacos 6 1 1 4 11 17 −6 4

Second group stage

Date Opponents H/A Result

F–A

Scorers Attendance Group

position

26 November 2002 Basel A 3–1 Van Nistelrooy (2) 62′, 63′, Solskjær 68′ 29,501 1st
11 December 2002 Deportivo La Coruña H 2–0 Van Nistelrooy (2) 7′, 55′ 67,014 1st
19 February 2003 Juventus H 2–1 Brown 4′, Van Nistelrooy 85′ 66,703 1st
25 February 2003 Juventus A 3–0 Giggs (2) 15′, 41′, Van Nistelrooy 63′ 59,111 1st
12 March 2003 Basel H 1–1 G. Neville 53′ 66,870 1st
18 March 2003 Deportivo La Coruña A 0–2 25,000 1st
Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
Manchester United 6 4 1 1 11 5 +6 13
Juventus 6 2 1 3 11 11 0 7
Basel 6 2 1 3 5 10 −5 7
Deportivo La Coruña 6 2 1 3 7 8 −1 7

Knockout phase

Date Round Opponents H/A Result

F–A

Scorers Attendance
8 April 2003 Quarter-final

First leg

Real Madrid A 1–3 Van Nistelrooy 52′ 75,000
23 April 2003 Quarter-final

Second leg

Real Madrid H 4–3 Van Nistelrooy 43′, Helguera 52′ (o.g.), Beckham (2) 71′, 85′ 66,708

Squad statistics

Manchester United squad picture 2002/2003

No. Pos. Name League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
1 GK Fabien Barthez 30 0 2 0 4 0 10 0 46 0
2 DF Gary Neville 19(7) 0 3 0 5 0 8(2) 1 35(9) 1
3 DF Phil Neville 19(6) 1 2 1 4 0 10(2) 0 35(8) 2
4 MF Juan Sebastián Verón 21(4) 2 1 0 4(1) 0 11 4 37(5) 6
5 DF Laurent Blanc 15(4) 0 1 0 0 0 9 1 25(4) 1
6 DF Rio Ferdinand 27(1) 0 3 0 4 0 11 0 45(1) 0
7 MF David Beckham 27(4) 6 3 1 5 1 10(3) 3 45(7) 11
8 MF Nicky Butt 14(4) 0 0(2) 0 0(1) 0 8 0 22(7) 0
10 FW Ruud van Nistelrooy 33(1) 25 3 4 4 1 10(1) 14 50(2) 44
11 MF Ryan Giggs (vc) 32(4) 8 3 2 4(1) 0 13(2) 4 52(7) 14
13 GK Roy Carroll 8(2) 0 1 0 2 0 3 0 14(2) 0
14 DF David May 0(1) 0 0 0 2 0 0(1) 0 2(2) 0
15 MF Luke Chadwick 0(1) 0 0 0 1 0 0(3) 0 1(4) 0
16 MF Roy Keane (c) 19(2) 0 3 0 2 0 6 0 30(2) 0
17 MF Michael Stewart 0(1) 0 0(1) 0 1 0 0(1) 0 1(3) 0
18 MF Paul Scholes 31(2) 14 2(1) 1 4(2) 3 9(1) 2 46(6) 20
19 GK Ricardo 0(1) 0 0 0 0 0 3(1) 0 3(2) 0
20 FW Ole Gunnar Solskjær 29(8) 9 1(1) 1 1(3) 1 9(5) 4 40(17) 15
21 FW Diego Forlán 7(18) 6 0(2) 0 3(2) 2 5(8) 1 15(30) 9
22 DF John O’Shea 26(6) 0 1 0 3 0 12(4) 0 42(10) 0
24 DF Wes Brown 22 0 1(1) 0 5 0 6 1 34(1) 1
25 MF Quinton Fortune 5(4) 0 0 0 1 0 3(3) 0 9(7) 0
26 MF Danny Pugh 0(1) 0 0 0 1 0 1(2) 0 2(3) 0
27 DF Mikaël Silvestre 34 1 2 0 5 0 13 0 54 1
31 MF Darren Fletcher 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 0
34 DF Lee Roche 0(1) 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1(1) 0
37 FW Danny Webber 0 0 0 0 0 0 0(1) 0 0(1) 0
38 DF Mark Lynch 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0
40 FW Daniel Nardiello 0 0 0 0 1 0 0(1) 0 1(1) 0
42 MF Kieran Richardson 0(2) 0 1 0 0(1) 1 2(3) 0 3(6) 1
43 FW Mads Timm 0 0 0 0 0 0 0(1) 0 0(1) 0
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