sport news Flashback to the last time Man United started a season so poorly

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Black Box are top of the UK singles chart with their hit Ride on Time, NASA's Voyager 2 space probe is beaming back images of Neptune and the Iron Curtain is crumbling as Eastern Europe exploded in revolution.

have just been hammered 5-1 by their bitter rivals Manchester City at Maine Road and their manager, Alex Ferguson, is facing the sack.

His team have been dismal since the start of the season, taking just seven points from their opening seven games and looking more like mid-table filler to a team who can challenge Liverpool's dominance.

Alex Ferguson in the Manchester United dug-out during their poor start back in 1989-1990

Alex Ferguson in the dug-out during their poor start back in 1989-1990

OIe Gunnar Solskjaer's United have made their worst start to a Premier League season since 1989 - they have nine points from seven games, as opposed to seven from seven back then

OIe Gunnar Solskjaer's United have made their worst start to a Premier League season since 1989 - they have nine points from seven games, as opposed to seven from seven back then

The dreadful performances come against the backdrop of Michael Knighton's efforts to buy the club from Martin Edwards in a £20million takeover.

It is September 23, 1989 and this is the last time United started a league campaign so poorly.

After Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United drew 1-1 with Arsenal on Monday night, their ninth point from seven games leaving them in 10th position in the Premier League, you have to go back 30 years for a worse start at Old Trafford.

September 23, 1989 

AT THE CINEMA

Shirley Valentine

Dead Poets Society

Lethal Weapon 2

Sex Lies and Videotape

UK MUSIC CHARTS

1. Ride on Time (Black Box)

2. Right Here Waiting (Richard Marx)

3. Cherish (Madonna)

4. Pump up the Jam (Technotronic)

5. The Best (Tina Turner)

ON THE TV

Noel Edmonds Saturday Roadshow

Bob's Full House

Allo' Allo'

All Creatures Great and Small

It was a tumultuous time at United both on and off the field, but decisions made during 1989-1990 would prove a turning point in the club's history.

At that time, it had been 22 years since United last won the league championship and 21 years since their famous European Cup triumph under Sir Matt Busby.

Though a useful cup team, the intervening two decades had seen United suffer in the long shadow of their Merseyside rivals Liverpool and to a lesser extent, Everton.

Between 1977 and 1988, Liverpool had won eight league titles, not to mention four European Cups, and memories of Mancunian dominance at home and abroad from the 1960s were fading.

In November 1986, United sacked manager Ron Atkinson and replaced him with a no-nonsense Scot who had built up Aberdeen into a club that smashed the Old Firm duopoly north of the border.

In his first full season at Old Trafford, Ferguson led United to a second place finish in the First Division but the nine-point gap to champions Liverpool confirmed there was much still to be done.

It couldn't be sustained - in 1988-89, United dropped like a stone to 11th, finishing between Millwall and Wimbledon in the table.

Ferguson knew his team was a work in progress, however, and the summer of 1989 had seen old faces Paul McGrath and Norman Whiteside turfed out and some eye-catching arrivals.

In came defender Gary Pallister from Middlesbrough for £2.3m, a club record amount and the second highest fee ever paid by an English club. He was joined by £1.5m Neil Webb and £750k Mike Phelan, both midfielders.

48 hours before the start of the season, news broke of Knighton's takeover bid and the opening game of the season at home to Arsenal is remembered for the sight of Knighton, in full United kit, performing keepie-uppies on the pitch to try and win favour with the fans.

Alex Ferguson welcomes new signings Mike Phelan (left) and Neil Webb to United in 1989

Alex Ferguson welcomes new signings Mike Phelan (left) and Neil Webb to United in 1989

Businessman Michael Knighton performs ball skills on the Old Trafford pitch in 1989

Businessman Michael Knighton performs ball skills on the Old Trafford pitch in 1989

United's start in 1989 

August 19 Arsenal (H) W 4-1

August 22 Crystal Palace (A) D 1-1

August 26 Derby County (A) L 0-2

August 30 Norwich City (H) L 0-2

September 9 Everton (A) L 2-3

September 16 Millwall (H) W 5-1

September 23 Man City (A) L 1-5

Seven points from first seven games 

United this season 

August 11 Chelsea (H) W 4-0

August 19 Wolves (A) D 1-1

August 24 Crystal Palace (H) L 1-2

August 31 Southampton (A) D 1-1

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September 14 Leicester City (H) W 1-0

September 22 West Ham (A) L 0-2

September 30 Arsenal (H) D 1-1 

Nine points from first seven games 

The season

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