The European Super Cup was the brainchild of reporter Anton Witkamp. After a period of supreme Dutch dominance (either Ajax or Feyenoord had won the European Cup final for the last four years), Witkamp had the idea of pitting the winner of the 1972 European Cup against the winner of the same year's Cup Winners' Cup.
The first Super Cup was played between Ajax and Rangers in January 1973 but was not endorsed by UEFA because the Scottish team were serving a one-year European ban at the time. It was an enormously popular concept with fans – more than 100,000 turned out across two legs – and Ajax ran out eventual winners, 6-3 on aggregate.
UEFA could see Witkamp was onto a winner and adopted the competition in an official capacity the following season, where Ajax again triumphed. This time, the Dutch champions thrashed AC Milan 6-1. The Italian team have since fared much better and have won the trophy a record four times.
Manchester United's first taste of the competition came in 1991 when, after the Reds' victory over Barcelona in the Cup Winners' Cup, they faced European champions Red Star Belgrade. Due to Yugoslavia's unstable political climate, it was decided the 1991 Super Sup would be settled over one leg. A Brian McClair strike was enough to hand United a 1-0 win and hand Sir Alex his third trophy.
United's second appearance in the Super Cup was earned by the last-gasp Champions League final victory over Bayern Munich. Super Cup finals had, since 1998, been reduced from two legs to a one-off match - the Reds played Lazio at Monaco's Stade Louis II on 27 August 1999 and lost 1-0 to a first-half strike from Marcelo Salas.
Sir Alex took his team to the same venue nine years later, again as European champions, and again lost the Super Cup final by the odd goal. This time United were turned over 2-1 by Zenit Saint Petersburg on 29 August 2008 with Nemanja Vidic scoring for the Reds.