Where does 2023-24 rank?

Ranking every Man Utd season since Sir Alex Ferguson left from worst to best

Sir Alex Ferguson’s legacy at Manchester United will live long in the football history books and it will take someone truly remarkable to overtake him as the Premier League’s greatest manager.

United haven’t had so much joy since his retirement, though, with four sackings in just the 11 seasons since his departure. Erik ten Hag might soon make it five, if reports are to be believed.

We’ve had a look back at each of those campaigns since the Scot departed and ranked them from worst to best.

11. 2013-14 (7th)

It was never going to be an easy task to take over from Fergie at Old Trafford, but this was a bit of a disaster. David Moyes was the man trusted with the job and, apart from winning the Community Shield, early signs weren’t too promising, with United making their worst start to a campaign since 1989.

Amid the results was a farcical summer window where they failed to land almost every target they had. Aside from Marouane Fellaini, of course.

Moyes’ nightmare didn’t even last a full season as United passed the task onto Ryan Giggs, who took charge until the end of a long, hard season which brought the club’s lowest finish since 1990.

United had never finished outside of the top three in the Premier League under Ferguson, and here they were in seventh. A shock to the system they’re still struggling to get over.

10. 2021-22 (6th)

Statistically, this season was actually worse than 2013-14 as United picked up just 58 points. That remains their lowest tally of the Premier League era.

The fact that United were being tipped as title contenders at the start of the 2021-22 campaign makes their underperformance even more striking.

Alongside their poor performances in the league, they also lost to Middlesborough in the FA Cup and were knocked out of the Champions League by Atletico Madrid to make it five seasons without a trophy.

But Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford did at least give United fans something to cheer about, albeit amid a case he made them worse as a team.

Still, he was their best performer and produced some excellent moments, including late winners against Villarreal and Atalanta and hat-tricks against Tottenham and Norwich City.

READ: Where are they now? The bookmaker’s favourites for the Man Utd job in 2022

9. 2018-19 (6th)

Well, how on earth do you sum this one up?

Mourinho suffered from his infamous third-season syndrome and was binned before Christmas had come around, but not soon enough for many fans.

Club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer transformed the team as caretaker manager, going 12 games unbeaten in the Premier League. Not forgetting the remarkable turnaround at the Parc des Princes.

It looked like Solskjaer was steering United back onto a good path, but things took a turn for the worse towards the end of the campaign which concluded with a home defeat to relegated Cardiff City.


8. 2015-16 (5th)

The year that Leicester City won the Premier League. That’s not really relevant, but we just still can’t believe it happened. Anyway…

United enjoyed some long-awaited domestic success in their second season under the guidance of Louis van Gaal, getting their hands on the FA Cup for the first time since 2004.

While United were often boring to watch in 2015-16, Anthony Martial’s arrival and Marcus Rashford’s emergence did provide some entertainment for the fans.

But they dropped down into the Europa League after not making it through their Champions League group and then went and lost to fierce rivals Liverpool in the round of 16.

League action didn’t bring them much luck either as goal difference meant Manchester City pipped them to fourth place. Ever since then, and Pep Guardiola’s arrival that summer, they haven’t got close to their city rivals.

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7. 2014-15 (4th)

Van Gaal was the man tasked with restoring some pride to Old Trafford after Moyes’ departure, so losing 4-0 to MK Dons probably wasn’t part of the plan.

Van Gaal certainly didn’t struggle where Moyes did, in that he managed to convince big names such as Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao to make the move to Manchester. But let’s just say those signings were better on paper.

Victories over Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham in the spring were among the highlights of the season and Juan Mata’s brace at Anfield is arguably United’s best moment in the post-Ferguson era.

They didn’t win any trophies but secured Champions League qualification after finishing fourth and looked to be on the right track.

5. 2019-20 (3rd)

After becoming United’s permanent manager, Solskjaer spent £150million on new signings and started the 2019-20 season with a 4-0 win over Chelsea.

Things then started to go downhill and the Norwegian faced an uncertain future but Bruno Fernandes’ arrival in the January transfer window helped save United’s season.

United played some brilliant football post-lockdown period at the end of 2019-20 and became the first side in Premier League history to win four games in a row by three or more goals.

But their fans had to watch as Liverpool ended their 30-year wait for a league title and United then lost to Sevilla in the Europa League semi-final.

4. 2017-18 (2nd)

Mourinho led United to their best Premier League campaign in the post-Ferguson era as they picked up 81 points. They finished second to Manchester City who, of course, made history by reaching the 100-point mark.

The highlight of the season was their win over City at the Etihad as a Paul Pogba brace and Chris Smalling’s goal helped United come from 2-0 down and win 3-2.

Summer signing Romelu Lukaku also made the desired impact after his big-money move, scoring 27 goals in all competitions in his debut season.

The campaign certainly had its low points, though, as they lost to Chelsea in the FA Cup final and their Champions League round of 16 defeat at home to Sevilla left a sour taste.

Nevertheless, it was something to build on for next season. Or so it seemed.

4. 2023-24 (8th)

What a difference a game can make, eh? We were all ready to put this one rock bottom. We definitely would’ve done had that Coventry goal not been ruled out in the FA Cup semi-final.

The 2023-24 campaign was a familiar story. After a big step forward the season prior (more on that later), Erik ten Hag appeared to have suffered the same fate as predecessors Van Gaal, Mourinho and Solskjaer by then taking them three or four steps back.

A great deal of this season was utterly miserable. A farcical Champions League group stage exit. Embarrassing heavy defeats to the likes of Bournemouth and Crystal Palace.

Losses home and away to Arsenal and Man City. A negative goal difference. The worst placing (eighth) of the Premier League era.

But ultimately football is all about moments, and winning trophies, and when the dust settles and people look back, beating Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering Manchester City in the FA Cup final will live much longer in the memory than the many, many bumps along the way to the final match of 2023-24.

Knocking Liverpool out en route, as well as ruining Jurgen Klopp’s farewell party by derailing their title bid, was an added bonus.

United have had much better seasons, and far better teams, in the post-Ferguson era. But few of them had anything to show for it.

Whatever else happened in 2023-24, Ten Hag can point to the grand old FA Cup.

London, UK. 25th May, 2024. Alejandro Garnacho of Manchester United celebrates scoring the first goal during the The FA Cup match at Wembley Stadium, London.

READ: 10 unbelievable stats from Man Utd’s outstanding FA Cup final victory over Man City

3. 2020-21 (2nd)

After losing 3-1 to Crystal Palace and 6-1 against Tottenham in the first three games of 2020-21, United looked set for a dreadful season.

But Solskjaer managed to turn things around once again and Fernandes picked up where he left off in 2019-20, registering 28 goals and 17 assists.

They thrashed old rivals Leeds United 6-2 and also beat Southampton 9-0, equalling the record winning margin in a Premier League match.

The Red Devils also went unbeaten away from home in the league and finished second for just the second time in the post-Ferguson era.

But Solskjaer’s side did struggle in Europe as they finished third in their Champions League group before suffering an agonising Europa League final defeat against Villarreal.

2. 2022-23 (3rd)

Erik ten Hag arrived at Manchester United off the back of the club’s worst Premier League season ever, from a statistical point of view.

No, they didn’t finish lower than they did with David Moyes in 2013-14, but any United fan will tell you that 2021-22 was a living nightmare. All hope was lost.

The Dutch coach arrived from Ajax with the pressure of immediately correcting that, while also being identified as the man to finally conduct a successful rebuild of the club.

Add to that him having to deal with Cristiano Ronaldo who was – simply put – not very good and desperate to leave the club, and an ownership situation which was so bad that now even the rest of the footballing world had some form of sympathy for United, it’s fair to say Ten Hag had quite the task on his hands.

And it couldn’t have started worse. Ten Hag lost his first two Premier League games, the second being a 4-0 drubbing away to Brentford following a calamitous first-half collapse.

After a disastrous start and a bizarre interrogation by Sky Sports after just two games, though, Ten Hag managed a home win against Liverpool which changed everything.

United picked up form, eventually released Ronaldo, started playing much better football and crucially won more games, even if there were a few drubbings along the way.

They exceeded expectations, lifted their first trophy in five years in the Carabao Cup and came within touching distance of the FA Cup, all while making Old Trafford a fortress in the league.

It was by no means perfect, but it was pretty close considering what Ten Hag had to grapple with, both on and off the pitch.

READ: The Premier League table since Man Utd appointed Erik ten Hag

1. 2016-17 (6th)

Europa League winners. League Cup winners. Community Shield winners. The year of Mourinho and Ibra.

Yes, finishing second is far more impressive than sixth. But in the context of where the club was before Mourinho took charge, this really felt like a huge season. Manchester United were on their way back.

The self-appointed ‘Special One’ replaced Louis van Gaal in the hot seat at Old Trafford and made an immediate impact by adding three trophies to the long list of club honours.

Other positives included the capture of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who netted 28 goals in all competitions, and the return of Paul Pogba.