1986-87: Sir Alex takes over; 2-0 loss at Oxford is his first game
1987-88: Brian McClair and Viv Anderson are his first signings
1987-88: McClair becomes the first player to break the 20-league goal barrier since Best
1987-88: United finish runners-up to Liverpool and exit the FA Cup at Arsenal
1988-89: A 5-1 derby defeat to City is a real low point
1988-89: United can only manage 11th place in Division One
1989-90: A spending spree brings in the likes of Paul Ince and Gary Pallister
1989-90: United win the FA Cup, Sir Alex's first trophy as boss
1990-91: An on-field brawl with Arsenal leads to United being docked 1 point
1990-91: Ron Atkinson beats his successor in the League Cup final
1990-91: On a glorious night in Rotterdam, United win the European Cup-Winners' Cup
manager. "The season did not just slip away, it collapsed," he admitted. "People talk about a curse over United. Quite honestly, I do not know how to seriously view that sort of superstition. But no club can be expected to fulfil its potential without so many of its players for so long." Injuries took their toll - Remi Moses and Nicky Wood had to retire - while Norman Whiteside, Anderson and Colin Gibson were all sidelined. Sir Alex said he was "embarrassed" at leaving the club so thin on the playing side after offloading the likes of Jesper Olsen, Peter Davenport and Gordon Strachan.
Six of the last eight league games ended in defeat and the time for drastic change had arrived. In the summer of 1989, a transfer spending spree injected some much-needed quality and character into the team. Neil Webb, Mike Phelan, Danny Wallace, Paul Ince and Gary Pallister, all Englishmen, arrived - even if Michael Knighton's proposed takeover of the club fell through.