Jose Mourinho’s new-look Manchester United side travel to the south coast this weekend to take on Bournemouth as the new 2016/17 Premier League campaign gets underway. The start of the new season always brings a great sense of excitement and anticipation among the football faithful following the summer break. The Reds have had a mixed bag of opening day results in the last five years. Since the 2011/12 campaign, United’s results on the opening day have read; win, loss, win, loss, win. Hopefully, the pattern won’t continue on Sunday against the Cherries. Let’s have a look at some of United’s opening day fixtures since the inception of the Premier League.
Sheffield United 2-1 Manchester United – 15th August 1992
Who scored the first ever goal of the Premier League era? Should that question ever arise in a pub quiz with your mates on a Friday night then you can tell them it was Sheffield United’s Brian Deane and it came against Manchester United. The Blades forward headed his side into the lead in the opening 5 minutes before adding a second after the half-time interval. Mark Hughes pulled one back with half an hour remaining but that’s how it stayed. Not a classic by any means but it will forever be in the history books.
Aston Villa 3-1 Manchester United – 19th August 1995
“You can’t win anything with kids.”, apparently. That was the assumption of Alan Hansen after United’s youngsters were comfortably beaten by Aston Villa on the opening day of the 1995/96 Premier League. Sir Alex Ferguson’s youthful team went on to lift the top-flight crown that season, finishing 11 points ahead of Hansen’s beloved Liverpool. As I recall, the kids did alright for themselves.
Wimbledon 0-3 Manchester United – 17th August 1996
The routine opening day victory against Wimbledon in 1996 gave us one of the most memorable goals of the Premier League era to this very day. A 21-year-old David Beckham collected a short pass from Brian McClair before launching an effort from just inside his own half and into the hapless Neil Sullivan’s goal. First-half goals from Eric Cantona and Denis Irwin had given the Reds a 2-0 lead before Beckham’s incredible goal in the dying minutes of the game.
Manchester United 3-2 Fulham – 19th August 2001
The Reds entered the 2001/02 campaign hoping for an unprecedented fourth Premier League title in succession and welcomed First Division champions Fulham to Old Trafford on the opening day. The top-flight first timers took a shock lead inside five minutes thanks to Louis Saha – who would later join the Reds in 2004. David Beckham leveled proceedings ten minutes before half-time with a sweetly struck free-kick and from there on you’d have expected United to make light work of the London side after the interval. Fulham had other ideas though as Saha grabbed his second of the game just minutes after the restart. United had their own two-goal hero in debutant Ruud van Nistelrooy who scored twice in three minutes to save Sir Alex Ferguson’s blushes with a hard-fought 3-2 win.
Manchester United 5-1 Fulham – 20th August 2006
After going three seasons without lifting the top-flight crown, the Reds meant business going into the 2006/07 campaign and got off to a flyer against Fulham at Old Trafford on the opening day. Fulham old boy Louis Saha put the Reds ahead with just seven minutes gone, which was the first of four goals in the opening 20 minutes. Saha then turned provider as Fulham man Ian Pearce put through his own net before Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo made it 4-0. Rio Ferdinand put the ball past Edwin van der Sar before the half-time whistle but it was Rooney who restored the Reds four-goal margin after the break. It shot United to the top of the table, where they stayed for all but two match-days out of the 38 games played, winning their 16th top-flight title along the way.
Swansea City 1-4 Manchester United – 17th August 2013
Manchester United headed into a Premier League campaign without the leadership of Sir Alex Ferguson for the very first time in August 2013 as he stepped down months previous after 26 years at the helm. On the pitch, it was service as normal for the reigning champions as they thrashed Swansea City on the opening weekend. Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck each netted a double with Swansea’s Wilfried Bony scoring a consolation late on.
Manchester United 1-2 Swansea City – 16th August 2014
The Reds went in to a new season with a new man in charge for the second time in as many years and just like twelve months previous, Swansea City were the opponents, this time at Old Trafford. Wayne Rooney’s second-half overhead kick cancelled out Ki Sung-yueng’s opener although Icelandic international Gylfi Sigurdsson had the last laugh as he compounded United to their first opening day defeat at home since 1972.