Here's How Football Looked the Last Time Man United, Milan and Rangers Were All Top of the League in January

United, Milan and Rangers give us the feels of old in a year as peculiar as any

Following Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Burnley, the Red Devils now sit top of the Premier League at this point in the league for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson retired from management in 2013.

This now also marks the first time since 2011 that three of European football’s giants have been top of their domestic leagues at the same time, as United, AC Milan and Rangers charge towards glory once more.

The landscape of European football has changed dramatically since then, with the world record transfer fee being broken three times, Manchester City winning four Premier League titles, Liverpool returning to the top and Real Madrid winning four Champions Leagues.

Here is a reminder of how European football looked back in 2011, weirdly enough, an exact decade later.

Ole Gunnar Solskajer just left United's reserves

Starting off with one that shows a sign of the times more than anything: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had just left United's reserves in what was the early days of his coaching career.

The Norwegian superstar had been apart of United in some capacity since signing his first deal with the club in 1996, as he moved into an ambassadors role in 2006. Shortly after retirement, Solskjaer would work alongside Ferguson to help train the strikers at United, before he moved into an official role as manager of the reserves in 2008.

In the season of 2010/11 was the last time Solskjaer would manage United's youngsters, before he moved to Molde, then to Cardiff City, then back to Molde, before joining United in 2018 as the club's manager.

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Torres signs for Chelsea, Carroll and Suarez replace him at Anfield

In the January of 2011, Chelsea paid Liverpool £50m for Spanish striker Fernando Torres, smashing the British transfer record. At the time, it seemed like being strewed business, despite £50m being enough for a backup right-back these days.

However, after 65 Premier League goals in 102 appearances for Liverpool, Torres went on to score just one Premier League goal in the remainder of the 2010/11 season.

Liverpool, on the other hand, used the Torres budget to spend £35m on Andy Carroll and £23m on Luis Suarez, with the latter proving to be even more successful than Torres during his time at Anfield. Suarez came close to leading Liverpool to their first Premier League title in 2014, before leaving for Barcelona.

As for Carroll, injuries hindered his two years on Merseyside, with the Englishmen scoring just 11 times in 58 games, before signing for West Ham United, and he is now still struggling, but back where he initially left Liverpool for: Newcastle United.

PSG are taken over by Qatari Sports Investments

The summer of 2011 would turn out to be arguably the most monumental for the landscape of French and European football, as the Qatari Sports Investments would send shockwaves throughout the continent with their takeover of Paris Saint-Germain.

PSG's £37m signing of Javier Pastore marked the start of a series of big-money signings for the French club, with at least one marquee signing per season coming thereafter. Trophies would follow almost immediately, as it took just one full season under the expensive Qatari belt to seal the Ligue 1 title and players like David Beckham, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Lucas Moura all signed the summer after the 2011 takeover.

From 2013 to the present day, just one league title has evaded PSG when Monaco snatched the trophy in 2016/17, and the entire landscape of football has changed as a result of the staggering sum of money that has flowed around the Parc des Princes since 2011.

Their current star duo of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe cost them a total of £330m, with the Neymar transfer smashing the record fee back in 2017, which all dates back to that one meeting between the club and the Qatari Sports Investments.

Adel Taraabt takes over the Championship as Sheffield United drop into League One

Moroccan playmaker Adel Taarabt produced what many have deemed the greatest individual season in Championship history in the 2010/11 season, as Queens Park Rangers won the title and promotion back to the Premier League.

Taarabt would score 19 times and assisted 21 in an exceptional campaign, as Neil Warnock secured his seventh managerial promotion. At the other end of the table, current Premier League side Sheffield United were relegated to League One, where they would remain until Chris Wilder led them to promotion in 2017.

Wilder is still with the Blades and currently facing relegation in the top flight, whilst Taarabt completely failed in the Premier League and has scored a shocking 14 league goals in nine years across four different leagues ever since.

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Barcelona put in arguably the greatest final display of all time

Wembley has seen some of the greatest moments in football history and played host to some of the most incredible finals of all time. However, we've arguably never seen a better display than what we witnessed in 2011 as Barcelona beat Manchester United 3-1 at England's national stadium.

Between 2009 and 2012, Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona reigned supreme over European football, winning two Champions Leagues and three consecutive league titles. With their stylish brand of football, led by Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi, the Catalan club defeated United in a poetically beautiful way at Wembley that day, and many regard it as the best European final performance in history.

Despite a Wayne Rooney goal, Messi, David Villa and Pedro condemned Ferguson’s side to their second Champions Final defeat in three years against the Spanish giants. Ferguson would later say this Barcelona team was the greatest he ever faced and admitted nobody had ever given his men a hiding like they did that night in May of 2011.

Ronaldo takes number 7 at United as Raul is released

Cristiano Ronaldo joined Real Madrid in 2009, but at that moment, the now all-time top scorer at the club had to take the number nine jersey, as the then all-time top scorer, Raul, still had the famous number seven shirt.

In the summer of 2010/11, however, Ronaldo would finally get his hands on that famous jersey and CR7 would become a tag known around the world shortly after.

The Portuguese legend would score a staggering 40 goals in 34 La Liga games in his debut year rocking the number seven.

Manchester City win their first trophy in 35 years

Three years after being taken over by billionaire Sheikh Mansour, Manchester City won the FA Cup, beating Stoke City 1-0 in the final.

Yaya Toure scored the goal that would prove to be the start of an era of success for City, who have since won 13 trophies, including four Premier League titles and another FA Cup. Toure also scored the winning goal in the semi-final, as the club beat rivals Manchester United 1-0.

Roberto Mancini’s side, featuring the likes of Vincent Kompany, Joe Hart and David Silva, went on to win the league on goal difference the following season, following a famous last-minute goal from Sergio Aguero. All the above players have now left the club, bar Aguero, who himself has one foot out the door.

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Birmingham City would win the league cup and get relegated in the same year

Heading into the League Cup final of 2011, Arsenal were clear favourites to lift their first trophy in six years at 2/5, whilst Birmingham were a huge 20/1 to win 2-1 at Wembley that day.

However, 2-1 they did win, thanks to a disastrous lack of communication between keeper Wojciech Szczęsny and defender Laurent Koscielny allowing Obafemi Martins to tap into an empty net.

It remains the biggest upset in the League Cup finals of the last decade and only Birmingham's second major domestic cup trophy in history. The club were also relegated back into the Championship that year.

Bournemouth were in League One, Stockport County would play their last game in professional football

Bournemouth, known to many as a decent Premier League side, faced relegation from the top flight last year and are now one of the favourites to come back up immediately.

However, back in 2011, the club were back in League One after winning promotion from League Two, under the leadership of club legend Eddie Howe. Howe would leave in January of that season as Lee Bradbury took over, whilst the likes of an 18-year-old Danny Ings and 21-year-old Harry Arter would feature regularly in that year for the Cherries.

Elsewhere in the Football League, Stockport County were in their 100th season in the Football League and their 96th time doing so consecutively. However, in stunning fashion, eight years after being in the Championship, County were relegated out of the professional ranks and have stayed outside ever since.

Pato, Nesta, Seedorf, Ronaldinho, Pirlo, Ibrahimovic, Inzaghi and co. dominated Serie A with AC

As we've already touched on, Milan were champions of Italy once more in the year of 2011, but the players they had back then proves even further just how long ago it was that Rangers, Milan and United were top of the league.

Wonderkid Alexandre Pato would go onto score 14 league goals for Milan that year, whilst the likes of Clarence Seedorf, Gennaro Gattuso, Alessandro Nesta and Zlatan Ibrahimovic would prove their brilliance once again.

Elsewhere, legendary faces like Andrea Pirlo, Ronaldinho, Robinho, Mathieu Flamini, Filippo Inzaghi, Thiago Silva and Kevin-Prince Boateng would all play a part and take home a Serie A medal in 2011.

By Luke Feather

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