Manchester United's biggest controversies ever

Manchester United's biggest controversies ever
FILE: Man Utd decision on Greenwood delayed, England World Cup players to …

Manchester United are one of the most successful clubs in world football, but its history hasn’t always been without controversy.

The club is currently facing criticism over the pending decision on Mason Greenwood’s future. It was recently reported that the club are on the verge of announcing their decision over the 21-year-old forward.

Greenwood was arrested in January 2022 and was later charged with attempted rape, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and controlling and coercive behaviour. The charges were dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service in February when new evidence emerged and key witnesses withdrew from the process.

United opened their own internal investigation, which is now coming to a conclusion, with the club expected to confirm that Greenwood will be reintegrated into the team, having not played since his arrest.

The situation ranks among the biggest controversial moments in the club’s history, which includes player incidents and manager bust-ups.

Email with a 'swastika-style' logo

Back in 2013, the club apologised after sending a newsletter out to fans which featured a 'swastika-style' logo with the title “New Order”.

Manchester United said any offence caused was "entirely unintended" after similarities between the logo which spelled out the letters “MUFC” and the Nazi symbol.

The statement emailed to fans said: "In this week's United Uncovered email newsletter, a graphic spelling the letters MUFC ran alongside a feature about Manchester United's younger squad members entitled New Order.

"While the headline was intended to reference the band of the same name, it has been pointed out that the graphic had design similarities to a swastika which, combined with other connotations of the phrase 'new order', has caused offence which was entirely unintended.

"For this, United Uncovered unreservedly apologises."

The club's then head of media David Sternberg tweeted at the time: "The creative is completely inappropriate; we apologise unreservedly and are taking appropriate internal action."

Eric Cantona kicking a fan

It’s one of the most famous moments in 90s football, and arguably the most contentious moment in Manchester United history on the pitch.

Eric Cantona had been sent off against Crystal Palace in 1995 when he lashed out at a rival fan and unleashed a kung-fu style kick with both feet aimed at the man’s chest.

He was dragged away by stewards, and he was later handed a two-week prison sentence which was reduced to 120 hours of community service. He claimed he had heard racial abuse being shouted from the fan.

Cantona was also fined £20,000, banned from football for nine months and stripped of the France captaincy, and it marked one of the most violent moments in Premier League history.

David Beckham’s boot to the head

There was a pretty obvious moment where David Beckham and Alex Ferguson’s relationship broke down – when the legendary manager unintentionally kicked a boot right at the midfielder’s head.

The incident took place in 2003 during Beckham’s last season at Old Trafford before moving to Real Madrid, after United lost 2-0 to Arsenal in the FA Cup.

Beckham ended up with stitches just above his left eye, but what actually took place is a point of contention.

Beckham himself describes the moment as a “freak accident”, saying: "That was blown up out of all proportion. I’d made a couple of mistakes during the game and he came into the dressing room and a few harsh words were exchanged.

"He started to walk over to me and he kicked out at a pile of clothes on the floor. Out came this boot and then I quickly realised how accurate his kick had been as it struck me on the head, but there weren’t any hard feelings.”

However, Ferguson had a very different take on things. Writing in his autobiography, he said: "In his final season with us, we were aware that David's work rate was dropping and we had heard rumours of a flirtation between Real Madrid and David's camp.

"The main issue was that his application level had dropped from its traditionally stratospheric level.

"He was around 12 feet from me. Between us on the floor lay a row of boots. David swore. I moved towards him, and as I approached I kicked a boot. It hit him right above the eye.

"Of course he rose to have a go at me and the players stopped him. 'Sit down,' I said. 'You've let your team down. You can argue as much as you like'.

"The next day the story was in the press. In public an Alice band highlighted the damage inflicted by the boot. It was in those days that I told the board David had to go.

"My message would have been familiar to board members who knew me. The minute a Manchester United player thought he was bigger than the manager, he had to go."

Roy Keane’s horror tackle on Haaland

Roy Keane Ends Håland's Career In Manchester

Another violent moment on the pitch came in 2001, when Roy Keane lunged into a horror tackle against Alfie Haaland in the Manchester derby.

There had been contention between the pair ever since an incident in 1997, when Keane went down injured during a game against Leeds, who Haaland was playing for at the time. Haaland, who is the father of Erling Haaland, stood over Keane and accused him of feigning injury. In fact, Keane had ruptured his cruciate ligament and was out for the remainder of the season.

Four years later, with Haaland now playing for City, Keane raked his studs down Haaland’s leg. The horror tackle resulted in an injury to Haaland’s knee. The Norwegian was later forced to retire at the age of just 30 after playing only 48 minutes of football as a result ofthe incident.

At the time, Keane received a three-match ban and a fine of £5,000. However, he was given another five-game ban and a £150,000 fine after he published inflammatory comments in his autobiography about the contentious moment.

He wrote: "I'd waited long enough. "I f***ing hit him hard. The ball was there (I think). Take that you c***."

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