Veteran players Brian McClair and Gary Pallister, along with a host of younger and less experienced players such as goalkeeper Kevin Pilkington and striker Graeme Tomlinson, had left the club before the season began. The big news of the pre-season was the arrival of Dutch defender Jaap Stam for a club record fee of £10.75 million. Other additions included striker Dwight Yorke and Swedish winger Jesper Blomqvist. Goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel announced his intention to leave the club after eight years at Old Trafford, joining Sporting Clube de Portugal at the end of the season.
The team's never-say-die attitude, instilled in previous seasons, was key to their success as the players often thrived in difficult situations. The highlight was United's dramatic comeback in the Champions League final, when Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjær each scored in injury time to overturn Bayern Munich's first-half lead. David Beckham was runner up to Rivaldo for 1999's European Footballer of the Year and FIFA World Player of the Year awards.
Fans and writers regard the treble haul as manager Alex Ferguson's finest hour, although he dismissed that assertion in later years. Tens of thousands of fans lined the streets of Manchester to welcome the team as the season drew to a close. In recognition of his achievements Ferguson was awarded a knighthood, and handed the Freedom of the City of Glasgow in November 1999.
By the end of the season Manchester United had become the world’s richest football club, and the most valuable sporting brand worldwide. The club was also at the centre of a takeover bid by BSkyB, which was blocked by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission in March 1999.
In their pre-season travels United lost and drew their first two matches, before winning three. A testimonial for Teddy Scott at Pittodrie against Aberdeen was scheduled in January; United lost 7–6 on penalties after a 1–1 draw in 90 minutes.