Matt Busby [hr][/hr]
Matt Busby was born on May 26th, 1909 in the small mining village of Orbiston in Lanarkshire, Scotland. He played half-back for United's bitter rivals Manchester City from 1929 to 1936 winning an FA Cup Winner's medal in 1934 and United's other archrivals Liverpool from 1936 to 1939. His playing career was cut short, making just one Scottish cap, by the second World War, in which he served in the Army Physical Training Corps.
In 1945, at the age of 36, he turned down a job offer to coach Liverpool. Instead, he accepted the post as manager of Manchester United. He accepted a challenge. Manchester United was in turmoil. Old Trafford had been heavily damaged in the air raid blitz from 1940-42 and the team he inherited was ageing and poor, having had no success for 34 years, since 1911, and hovering above the relegation zone in Division One. Manchester United may have been a club with potential, but were notorious under-achievers and had little or no support outside of the city of Manchester.
Matt Busby addressed that. He believed in free-flowing attacking football and wanted his teams to be successful but also to thrill the crowd at the same time. His revolutionary approach formed the basis of United's philosophy and playing style through to the present day.
From 1945 to 48, United played at rival City's Maine Road ground due to the bomb damage at Old Trafford. In 1946, Matt Busby introduced a new policy of youth development, creating a scouting system that attracted some young players with fantastic potential. By combining the early youth players with astute buying, Matt Busby first tasted success with the 1948 FA Cup victory over Blackpool. The basis of that side went on to win the League Championship in 1952 playing flowing football with flair unseen in Britain at that time.
Unlike the office resident, 3-piece suit wearing managers of his era, Matt Busby was a hands-on, modern style of management. He wore track-suits and coached his own players on the training pitch. This enabled him to instill his ideas and methodology directly to the players.
Unwilling to allow his team to stagnate Busby made drastic and ruthless changes to his playing staff following the 1952 championship win. Many of the household names of the past few years were replaced with some exciting but totally unknown young players. It became perhaps one of the milestones in United history as the Busby youth system produced a team of young hungry, homebred players that the world would come to know as the Busby Babes.
With his young talents like Bobby Charlton, Duncan Edwards, Dennis Viollet, Tommy Taylor and many others, United went on to win back-to-back titles in 1956 and 1957. The dynasty was flourishing, but destiny was yet to play it's cards.
Despite strong FA and Football League objections, with threats of legal action, the visionary Matt Busby took United into European competition in the European Cup.
While returning home from a European Cup game against Red Star Belgrade in 1958, the team airplane crashed at Munich, killing eight of the players and severely injuring others who would not play football at this level again. Matt Busby himself was seriously injured and fought for life in hospital for many weeks; his life expectancy was very low.
The great, youthful, Busby Babes were gone with still so much to achieve and so the entire world became aware of Manchester United.
Matt Busby recovered, yet doubted in his own mind that he had the desire to carry on. Carry on he did and, within 12 months, he set about creating the third great United team.
With Munich survivor Bobby Charlton, signings like Pat Crerand and Denis Law, and new youth players like Kidd and Best amongst others, United returned winning the FA Cup in 1963 and two League titles in 1965 and 1967. They played Busby football as the Babes had before with style, attacking flair and genius and attracted a new legion of fans and the imagination of football fans the world over.
On May 29th 1968, the most successful, but arguable not the most gifted, of his three United sides won the European Cup for the first time. The nation, and most of the TV watching world was behind United that night, with the memories of 1958 willing on United to defeat Benfica 4-1.
Queen Elizabeth II Knighted Matt Busby in 1968 and having achieved his goal, retired from Manchester United as manager in 1969. He 'moved upstairs' and took up the role of General Manager. In 1970, Busby returned the managers seat as a temporary appointment following the sacking of Frank O'Farrell. In 1971, Sir Matt was appointed to the United board. In 1982, Sir Matt Busby was appointed Club President for life and held high positions in the Football League management committee.
Lean years followed with various managers and only a handful of FA cup successes. In 1986, Alex Ferguson re-introduced the Busby philosophy for youth development and with it United won it's first Championship for 26years (the inaugural Premiership), in 1993. Sir Matt took great pleasure in presiding over Ferguson's revival in which United played with the same style and flair he himself loved in his own teams. It was fitting that Sir Matt Busby proudly celebrated that achievement in the director's box as the faithful crowd hailed his name.
Less than a year later, on the 20th January 1994, Busby died aged 85.
The legacy of Sir Matt Busby is that he provided the foundation, the philosophy, the style and the passion that turned an ordinary and local football club, into the most famous, glamorous, and now richest and biggest club in the world.
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