|FA Cup||1983, 1985|
|FA Charity / Community Shield||1983|
Ron Atkinson arrived at Old Trafford to great fanfare with a reputation for playing entertaining, attacking football.
The flamboyant character had famously steered West Brom to a 5-3 win at Old Trafford three years earlier and earned the right to manage a big club after learning his trade initially with Kettering Town and Cambridge United. Certainly a very different personality to his predecessor, Dave Sexton, he injected some flair into the team and smashed the British transfer record to bring Bryan Robson over from The Hawthorns during his first campaign in charge. Insisting the £1.5million outlay was not even a risk, the signing of the contract was made on the pitch before a game with Wolves and there was little doubt that, despite a lack of silverware since 1977, the club remained glamorous and one of the biggest in Europe during the start of his tenure. Trophies were required to satisfy the appetite of the fans and the 1983 FA Cup was secured following a replay against Brighton & Hove Albion. Gary Bailey’s late save denied Gordon Smith the winner in the first game at Wembley as the final finished 2-2 before Robson inspired a one-sided 4-0 romp in the replay. Two years later, Norman Whiteside curled past Neville Southall to defeat Everton’s all-conquering side with 10 men after Kevin Moran’s sending off to earn another success to savour in the showpiece event. Although regular contenders for the elusive Division One title, the drought finally appeared sure to end in 1985/1986. By winning the opening 10 matches of the campaign, the Reds racked up a commanding lead, only to falter badly and, even more agonisingly, allow Liverpool to scoop a record-breaking 16th championship. With United ultimately slipping to fourth, it proved to be another false dawn and even the FA Cup victories failed to halt speculation surrounding the managerial position. A 4-1 League Cup exit at the hands of Southampton the following season led to Big Ron departing Old Trafford, having provided plenty of entertainment and excitement during his stay in charge.