Season 2001/02
original illustrations of the kits worn during the season

The Season in brief

The arrival of Ruud van Nistelrooy, Juan Sebastian Veron, for a new club record fee of £28m, and Roy Carroll, signalled United's intention of claiming a record breaking fourth consecutive title.During the summer Steve McLaren had left the club to join Middlesbrough as manager. His position as Ferguson's assistant was filled by Jim Ryan, a United player in the Sixties.

Just one defeat in their opening eight games suggested that they would overcome the loss of Jaap Stam, surprisingly sold after the opening League game. At times the football they played was inspired; for instance the send half display at White Hart Lane when they overturned a 3-0 deficit to win 5-3.

Hovever a poor run through late autumn saw the club drop down the table and following a home defeat by West Ham in December, they stood ninth. Some of the blame could be laid with Stam's replacement, Laurent Blanc, who struggled with the demands of the Premier League. The use of van Nistelrooy as a lone striker in a 4-5-1 formation hardly helped.

Just two defeats in their following twenty-one games took United back into the title race with two games to play. Both were at Old Trafford with Arsenal, who led the table by five points, first up. Needing tow in, United lost 1-0 and the title went to North London. A little over a week earlier Unted had been beaten in the Champions' League semi-final, on the away goals rule, by Bayer 04 Leverkusen.

In the FA Cup United had lost in the fourth round to Steve McLaren's Middlesbrough, and in the League Cup, a near-full strength Arsenal side had beaten United's youngsters in the third round.

The undoubted highlight of the season was the goalscoring prowess of Ruud van Nistelrooy. He scored on his début in the Charity Shield against Liverpool, and managed a total of thirty-six goals in just forty-nine appearances.

Umbro produced new change and third kits for the outfield players. The replica versions were reversible. There was also a new home goalkeeping kit, with the previous season's employed as the change kit.