After the resumption of League football following the First World War, Manchester United suffered relegation to the Second Division at the end of the 1921/22 season having only managed to win eight games. United returned to the top flight in 1925 under management of John Chapman after finishing second to Leicester City. Chapman was appointed manager of Manchester United on 1st November 1921 after previous manager Jack Robson had stepped down due to ill health. Chapman was in charge of Manchester United for 5 years, taking charge of 223 games and winning 87 of those games. Chapman was suspended by the Football Association for improper conduct in October 1926 and replaced by experience player Lal Hilditch for the remainder of the 1926/27 season.
In April 1927 Manchester United appointed Herbert Bamlett, Bamlett was a former referee and had refereed the 1914 Fa Cup Final between Liverpool and Burnley. His had previously managed Oldham Athletic, Wigan Borough and Middlesbrough before taking charge of United. He was in charge of Manchester United until April 1931, during his time in charge United never finished higher than 12th place in the First Division. They finished bottom of the First Division at the end of the 1930/31 season having lost twelve games in a row at the start of the season. Bamlett had 182 games in charge of United with the club losing 82 of these games. Following the relegation to the Second Division, United’s finances were once again in a mess and Bamlett resigned following criticism.
Club secretary Walter Crickmer took control of the team for the 1931/32 season and was assisted by chief scout Louis Rocca, this was because the club couldn’t afford a new manager. United players had gone to collect their wages just before Christmas and were told there was no money available. The team managed to finish mid-table in the Second Division in the 1931/32 season, the club’s finances were so precarious that it looked like the club could go out business. In December 1931 a new investor in James W. Gibson was found, Gibson was approached by Manchester sportswriter Stacey Linott. Gibson agreed to meet the Manchester United board, he offered to help the club on the condition that he would become chairman and could select his own directors. The club’s finances were so bad they had little choice but to agree and Gibson invested £30,000 into Manchester United.
In June 1932 United appointed Scott Duncan as Manager, Duncan was a former player, his playing career had seen him play for Dumbarton, Newcastle United and Glasgow Rangers. Before taking over at United he had spells as manager at Hamilton Academicals and Cowdenbeath. Despite spending lots of money on new players United were almost relegated to the Third Division in the 1933/34 season. They went into the final game of that second last in the Second Division table and were playing Millwall away, United won the game 2-0 and stayed in the Second Division by one point and the result sent Millwall down. The following season saw improvement from United as they finished 5th and just missed out on promotion back to the First Division. United won ten out of eleven games during October and November of the 1934/35 season and fans started to flock back to Old Trafford.
Manchester United finally returned to the First Division after spending five years in the Second Division as they won the Second Division Championship in the 1935/36. United went unbeaten in the last 19 games of the season and they sealed the Championship with a 3-2 victory at Bury. The joy for United and their fans was short lived though as they were relegated back to the Second Division the following season and in November 1937 Duncan resigned as the Manchester United manager and Walter Crickmer once again took the reigns. Despite the club being £70,000 in debt, United finished second in the Second Division to secure an immediate return to the First Division with future stars Johnny Carey, Jack Rowley and Stan Pearson in the team. In their season back in the First Division they finished 14th and would stay in the First Division for the next 36 years. The Second World War broke out in September 1939 and association football was effectively frozen.
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