The 7 times Man Utd won big on the opening day and what happened next

Quick Reads

Manchester United got their 2021-22 campaign off to the perfect start on Saturday as they thrashed Leeds United 5-1 at Old Trafford, Bruno Fernandes leading the way with an excellent hat-trick. 

It is a result that will see the Red Devils fighting near the top of the Premier League table from the start of a season that many are hoping will bring a genuine title challenge.

But how much can we read into the big opening day victory? We have taken a look back at the other times United have won by three or more goals in their first Premier League game and how the rest of the season transpired.

1996-97 

Eric Cantona, Dennis Irwin and David Beckham’s rarely seen strike from the halfway line helped Sir Alex Ferguson’s side to a comfortable 3-0 win against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park.

Only five losses came their way throughout the entirety of the remaining campaign, eventually leaving them comfortably clear of Newcastle United and a despairing Kevin Keegan at the top of the table come May.

2003-04

This campaign may have started brightly for United but it ultimately ended in disappointment. A season more symbolic of Kleberson than fellow summer arrival Cristiano Ronaldo.

Goals from Paul Scholes and Ruud van Nistlerooy, coupled with a Ryan Giggs brace, meant a 4-0 win against Bolton on the opening weekend.

But, come May, Arsene Wenger and his Arsenal invincibles found themselves 15 points clear of Ferguson’s side as they cruised to the title. United even finished behind Claudio Ranieri’s Chelsea in third.

2006-07

Fulham were on the receiving end of an opening day hammering from the eventual 2006-07 title winners.

Louis Saha found the net against his former side and strikes from Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and an Ian Pearce own goal wrapped up a 5-1 win.

Come May, the Red Devils stood six points clear of Chelsea, winning the first of three consecutive Premier League titles.

Wayne Rooney chips Ben Foster

READ: An ode to Man Utd 06-07, an unsung season and a sexy Wayne Rooney lob

2010-11

Four years later, Sir Alex enjoyed his final emphatic opening day victory. They pushed them for the title in 1997, but Newcastle ended up on the end of a 3-0 thumping this time.

Again, this would be a victorious campaign for the club. In February they equalled their unbeaten record (29 games) and in May lifted their 19th title, leaving Liverpool’s measly 18 in the dust at the time.

It was a season that also saw the Red Devils reach the Champions League final, only to be totally outclassed by Barcelona. A repeat of that specific scenario this term seems rather unrealistic, however.

2013-14

David Moyes had hopes soaring after the opening day of the 2013-14 campaign. Maybe the post Ferguson era would be a raging success?

Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck both grabbed two goals in a 4-1 win against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium. But the feel-good factor did not endure much longer.

By May they found themselves in seventh place, the club’s lowest finish since 1990, and Moyes found himself out of a job less than 12 months into his six-year deal. Not quite on the same level as Van Persie’s first season.

READ: Fergie’s farewell gift: Robin van Persie’s fairytale debut season at Man Utd

2017-18

With over £70million splashed on Romelu Lukaku in the summer, there was plenty of expectation of a serious title challenge in Jose Mourinho’s second season in charge.

A 4-0 opening day victory against West Ham at Old Trafford was the perfect way to start, especially with their new marksman finding the target twice.

Despite winning six of their opening eight games, United soon began to lose ground on their local rivals. They still finished second, but a full 19 points behind Pep Guardiola and co.

2019-20

Arguably United’s most impressive opening day performance, a hammering of Frank Lampard’s Chelsea side on the opening day two years ago.

Marcus Rashford found the net twice before Anthony Martial and debutant Daniel James got in on the act themselves. But there would be no silverware for them again.

Despite a 14 game unbeaten run seeing out the Premier League season, largely thanks to the arrival of Fernandes in January, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could only muster a third-place finish, 33 points adrift of Liverpool.


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