Why Lennon's a rarity in United's record books

Wednesday 05 October 2022 11:00

Manchester United managers have pitted their wits against counterparts from all over the world during the club's rich European history - including a handful from Great Britain.

That's only natural when you consider the Reds have occasionally faced other sides from the UK in competitions such as the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and European Cup Winners' Cup, and those teams have generally had men from England, Scotland and Wales at their helm.

But ahead of Neil Lennon's assignment with Omonia this Thursday evening, only one other British boss has taken charge of an overseas club against United.

Bruce Rioch, pictured at the press conference before his Aalborg team hosted United in 2008.
That distinction belongs to Bruce Rioch, who was managing Danish outfit Aalborg when the Reds visited them for a Champions League group game on September 2008.

United notched a comfortable 3-0 away win with goals from Dimitar Berbatov (2) and Wayne Rooney, and when the sides met again 10 weeks later at Old Trafford, Rioch had been replaced.

After the former Arsenal and Bolton Wanderers boss was dismissed, his successor Allan Kuhn, a native of Denmark, brought Aalborg to Manchester for a 2-2 draw.
United actually encountered two British managers in the 2008/09 Champions League, as our ex-midfielder Gordon Strachan was then in the hotseat at Celtic.

Like Rioch's team, Strachan's side also conceded two Berbatov goals and one from Rooney as the Reds again triumphed 3-0.

The return game in Glasgow ended 1-1 and Celtic eventually finished bottom of Group E, below United, runners-up Villarreal and Aalborg.

Gordon Strachan is another British boss who has faced United in European fixtures.
Strachan has, in fact, faced the Reds more times in European competitions than any other British boss. His four meetings with us as Celtic manager also include two Champions League group games in 2006/07, when the two clubs traded home wins.

When United won 3-2 at Old Trafford in September 2006, all the goals were grabbed in the space of 26 minutes as Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and Shunsuke Nakamura netted either side of Louis Saha's first-half double. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's strike, very early in the second half, proved decisive.

Nakamura scored again when his side won 1-0 at Celtic Park, and Lennon - who now faces United as a manager 16 years later - captained the Scottish champions in both matches.

The first British boss to take on the Reds in Europe was Bill Nicholson, whose Tottenham Hotspur side lost 4-3 on aggregate in a Cup Winners' Cup tie in December 1963.

The most recent to do so before Lennon was the late, great Walter Smith - his Rangers team held us to a goalless draw at Old Trafford in September 2010 and almost repeated the feat at Ibrox until Rooney converted an 87th-minute penalty.
Neil Lennon pursues Louis Saha as Celtic host United in November 2006.


Bill Nicholson | Tottenham Hotspur
1963/64 Cup Winners' Cup
United lost 2-0 away, won 1-0 at home

Harry Catterick | Everton
1964/65 Fairs (UEFA) Cup
United drew 1-1 at home, won 2-1 away

Jim McClean | Dundee United
1984/85 UEFA Cup
United drew 2-2 at home, won 3-2 away

Brian Flynn | Wrexham
1990/91 Cup Winners' Cup
United won 3-0 at home, won 2-0 away

Alex McLeish, who played under Sir Alex Ferguson for Aberdeen, managed against him with Rangers.
Alex McLeish | Rangers
2003/04 Champions League
United won 1-0 away, won 3-0 at home

Gordon Strachan | Celtic
2006/07 Champions League
United won 3-2 at home, lost 1-0 away
2008/09 Champions League
United won 3-0 at home, drew 1-1 away

Bruce Rioch | Aalborg
2008/09 Champions League
United won 3-0 away

Walter Smith | Rangers
2010/11 Champions League
United drew 0-0 at home, won 1-0 away