|Top Scorer||P Beardsley (19)|
Manager Jackie Charlton sensationally walked out a week before the first game after a few thousand disgruntled fans barracked him during a pre-season friendly. [Newsclip: H]
Coach Iam McFaul was installed as caretaker boss and - with the help of the inspirational Beardsley and the erratic brilliance of Gascoigne - he managed to steady the ship and as a result was offered a contract to the end of the season.
McFaul brought in some more of the Youth Cup winning side with Paul Stephenson and Joe Allon both managing spells in the side.
He also sold a number of Charlton's signings although it is arguable whether the replacements he brought in were any better.
United were relegation favourites at the start of the season so an 11th place finish was more than most would have expected.
The Magpies made their usual early cup exits to Oxford (who went on to win the League Cup) and Brighton (who reached the FA Cup Final).
Kit images copyright Historical Football Kits and reproduced by kind permission
United's form improved both home and away in comparison to 1984/85 and a highly satisfactory 11th placed finish was the result of scoring more goals (they only failed to score in 7 games) and winning 4 more games.
The Magpies made a really promising start and were in 4th place after the first 2 months. And although they couldn't maintain that standard they were 11th at the end of 1985.
A run of 5 successive victories in February and March virtually banished any fears of relegation and despite being inconsistent from then on they were well-worth their top-half finish.
Total Games: 46
Total Number of Players Used: 22
01: (2) - Thomas > McKellar
02: (5) - Anderson
03: (5) - Wharton> Bailey
04: (4) - Gascoigne > Davies > McCreery
05: (2) - Clarke
06: (1) - Roeder
07: (5) - McDonald > Stephenson
08: (9) - McCreery > Gascoigne
09: (4) - Reilly > Whitehurst
10: (2) - Beardsley
11: (5) - Stewart
|Davies Alan||07/85||Man Utd||£50,000|
|Whitehurst Billy||12/85||Hull City||£232,500|
Jackie Charlton's failure to sign Eric Gates from Ipswich and the fact he signed for Sunderland was one of the triggers for the abuse he received in the pre-season friendly and his subsequent resignation.
A deal that Charlton did set up for QPR winger Ian Stewart was followed through after his departure, but he failed to impress.
McFaul brought in the experienced left-back John Bailey and spent over a quarter of a million on Hull centre-forward Billy Whitehurst. He was certainly a physical presence, but not the most skilful player.
|Megson Gary||01/86||Sheff Wed||£65,000|
United received a record fee for Waddle, but there was no way that was going to appease the angry faithful. The United supporters had turned against the player himself, giving him a new nickname of "Judas" but also blamed the Board and Charlton.
Three Charlton signings made an early exit: Heard, Reilly and Megson.
|Haddock Peter||cs/85||cs/85||Dunedin City|
|Megson Gary||12/85||12/85||Sheff. Wed.|
The death of a supporter at the game between Birmingham and Leeds was simply a precursor to the horrendous scenes witnessed at Valley Parade and then Heysel. The future of the game was in serious jeopardy and the position of the football supporter was at it's lowest ebb.
The seven foot six inch wire fences at St James' were pulled down for Bruce Springsteen's concert at St. James' and with the Bradford Fire fresh in everyone's mind (the death toll would have been much worse if the fans had not been able to escape onto the pitch) there were suggestions that they should be kept down. In the end they were put back up again.
Prime-Minister Margaret Thatcher was determined to clamp down on the trouble makers and there were suggestions of identity cards being introduced. The Popplewell Report (commissioned as a result of the Bradford Fire) was also published
Some of the small, but loyal band of followers who turned up for the pre-season friendly against Sheffield United made their feelings quite clear.
"Charlton must go", "We hate Charlton" and "Sack Jack" were some of the pithy opinions provided leaving Charlton (in Seymour's words) "hurt and visibly upset".
Even in United's colourful history the fans have rarely had such a dramatic impact.
McFaul did away with Charlton's safety first tactics, especially at home and the crowd responded to his bravery with their encouragement if not always with their presence. The average attendance actually fell by 2,500 to 23,307.
The fans had a decent share of their hate figures to bait at St. James' and as usual they tended to score. There were visits from Kenny Burns, David Speedie (scored Chelsea's first goal), Terry Fenwick (QPR - booked for "running and signalling to the crowd" after he had scored) and Waddle (scored for Spurs).
Waddle probably got the most stick, but he claimed that the fans hadn't bothered him. "I'm a Geordie and always will be" explained the Heworth born Sunderland supporter.
Trelford Mills was also back for the visit of Watford and he endeared himself to the faithful even more by controversially disallowing a last minute Reilly goal that would have secured a victory.