United's Boxing Day record with Villa

Monday 25 December 2023 11:00

Manchester United have played Aston Villa four times on Boxing Day over the years, but only once in the Premier League era.

The last time we met Tuesday's opponents in the festive fixture was in 2000, when a solitary goal by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was enough to earn three points at Villa Park.

The Norwegian connected with David Beckham's cross to head past David James in the 85th minute to preserve an eight-point lead at the summit.

It had Sir Alex Ferguson exclaiming that Ole was one of the best finishers he had worked with, and said: "The important thing about this team is they keep going, when maybe some other teams would have settled for 0-0.

"Maybe, when we look back at the end of the season, we will say that was a big win."

Aston Villa 0 United 1 Video

Aston Villa 0 United 1

26 December 2000: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's late strike ensured a Boxing Day win for the Reds.

The other three clashes on 26 December are well spread apart. In 1906, Villa beat United 2-0, with goals from Jimmy Cantrell and Fred Chapple. A large amount of snow had to be cleared from the pitch by volunteers and the surface was covered with sand, making life difficult for the players.

The Reds beat the Midlanders 2-1 in 1958, when the rebuilt side after Munich took the two points, as Albert Quixall and Dennis Viollet were on target. Bill Myerscough replied for the visitors. Again the pitch was not in a good state, described as "sticky" in the match reports, as in-form United were more convincing victors than the scoreline suggests.

Viollet's winner, in the 74th minute, came when he nudged a Mark Pearson pass beyond Nigel Sims and defender Johnny Dixon was unable to stop it crossing the line in the muddy goalmouth.

The game in 1989 will be remembered by a lot of older United fans for the wrong reasons. It came just before things would turn around spectacularly for Alex Ferguson, as his misfiring team would soon embark on the FA Cup run that transformed our fortunes and kickstarted the glorious period under the Scot.

A second half dominated by the hosts at Villa Park made for uncomfortable watching, particularly as the outstanding David Platt had been released as a youngster by the Reds. The home skipper's shot was parried by Jim Leighton but Ian Olney bagged the rebound, before he got on the act himself by latching onto a pass by Tony Daley and beating Gary Pallister to double the lead.

Full-back Kevin Gage added a third and Ferguson's team, without injured talisman Bryan Robson, were booed off, with the rival supporters chanting: 'Fergie, Fergie, on the dole'.

The Manchester Evening News, under the headline 'Laughing Stock', wrote that "much more of this and their cruel jibe could become reality". 

Reporter David Meek commented: "It's a distinctly umerry Christmas for Manchester United. There was little evidence from this game that the new year is going to be any happier."

Thankfully, on this occasion, the much-respected journalist was wrong.

Former Red David Platt scores against United in the 3-0 win for Villa.


1906: Aston Villa 2 United 0
1958: United 2 Aston Villa 1
1989: Aston Villa 3 United 0
2000: Aston Villa 0 United 1