How United went 30 home games unbeaten

Wednesday 23 August 2023 15:00

Manchester United had a false start under Erik ten Hag, losing his first competitive game as manager to Brighton & Hove Albion.

When another defeat followed, and a heavy one at that, at Brentford, a turnaround was clearly demanded, even if both our opening opponents turned out to be impressive teams who would enjoy fabulous seasons.

Four successive wins soon had us back on course, including memorable victories over Liverpool and Arsenal, and all this came before the start of our 30-match unbeaten home run, our longest streak in this respect since a 40-game spell between September 2016 and December 2017.

The reason for this was the 1-0 reverse to Real Sociedad in the Europa League, a tie not only settled by a debatable penalty for handball against Lisandro Martinez, but also played out in the context of the breaking news of the sad death of Her Majesty The Queen, which appeared to contribute to an unusually subdued atmosphere.

The next time the home crowd got to see the Reds, it was a real slog against Cypriot side Omonia Nicosia, in another European encounter. Just when it looked like Neil Lennon's men had held out for a goalless draw, up popped Scott McTominay with an injury-time winner.

Newcastle United, another side who would also enjoy a fabulous season, did manage to shut out the Reds, with Marcus Rashford close to securing the points at the death, and, at this point, we were still not firing on all cylinders and it would have been difficult to predict embarking on such a wonderful run at the Theatre of Dreams.

Clearer evidence of what was to follow was provided in the 2-0 triumph over Tottenham, thanks to an excellent all-round display, and after Sheriff Tiraspol were rolled over, Rashford's goal defeated West Ham and the floodgates opened a little against Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup.

Despite twice trailing, the 4-2 triumph was a good way of cheering the Old Trafford support before over a month of inaction due to the winter World Cup.


It proved to be successive Carabao Cup outings as we continued on the road to Wembley with the first match back after the Qatar tournament a pre-Christmas defeat of a Burnley side that would run away with the Championship, with Rashford again showing his quality with a stupendous goal.

The England forward and his team-mates were unstoppable on home turf around this time. We scored three times in each of our next four fixtures there with Rashford netting in all of them, including a brace against Charlton Athletic. Yet the biggest test would come on 14 January, when Manchester City headed across town.

Jack Grealish put the Blues in front on the hour mark but a spirited response, in the best traditions of the club, turned the derby on its head. Amid chaotic scenes of celebration, Bruno Fernandes and Rashford beat Ederson twice inside four minutes to truly indicate Ten Hag's side were capable of beating anybody.

Rashford's run of scoring in nine successive home games was ended when he had an effort harshly ruled out against Reading in the Emirates FA Cup, as two-goal Casemiro took centre stage instead.

Leeds United, rather surprisingly, looked best placed to inflict a first defeat since the Real Sociedad game, when leading 2-0 with over an hour gone. Rashford, inevitably, and Jadon Sancho restored parity and, in truth, the Yorkshiremen were probably relieved to clinch a point in the end.

Treat yourself to this view of our fabulous Manchester derby victory.

Another magical night at Old Trafford saw Ten Hag's men respond to Robert Lewandowski's penalty by turning things around in the second half of the Europa League play-off. Brazilian duo Fred and Antony found the net and had the famous stadium rocking as we knocked the La Liga champions-elect out to signal a statement of intent ahead of this term's return to the top table of the Champions League.

The proliferation of home cup ties threw up potential banana skins but the charge kept going, even if West Ham United and Fulham both strongly threatened upsets that would kill our eventual journey to both domestic finals. The spirit was undeniable, the unity between fans and players obvious, as the confidence gained from such a long spell of success proved vital.

Sevilla's late comeback, including an injury-time leveller, was probably even more notable for losing Martinez to a season-ending injury, and also his partner Varane, but the ability to grind out key wins when under pressure for a top-four spot should be applauded, as Aston Villa and Wolves were seen off.

Watch United knock La Liga kings Barcelona out of the Europa League.

It all added up to needing to beat Chelsea to seal a Champions League place and that was done in style. The Blues were 4-0 down and staring down the barrel of a heavy loss until Joao Felix managed some scant late consolation. Satisfyingly, while it was already a case of job done, another comeback, against Fulham, with David De Gea saving a penalty to prevent us going 2-0 down in his final league appearance, rounded the campaign off in the right way and sealed third spot in the table.

It may have been far from a vintage or memorable display against Wolves in the 2023/24 opener, but Raphael Varane's header proved decisive to keep the run going and stretch it into the thirties. Forest may not have the best record against the Reds but they will be dangerous opponents, particularly after our setback of losing at Tottenham last time out.

Yet the fans will be in good voice, and expectant mood once again, with a traditional kick-off time always adding an extra spring in the step. Quite how long we can keep this home form going is anybody's guess but Ten Hag has turned Old Trafford into a fortress again. Long may it continue.