With all the constant speculation about SAF I thought I'd post this
1969: Matt Busby retires from Man United
Football legend Sir Matt Busby has announced he will retire as manager of Manchester United at the end of the season - FA Cup final day on 26 April.
Sir Matt, who is 59, told a news conference at the club's ground at Old Trafford: "It's time to make way for a younger man... a track-suited manager".
He said the pressures of managing a top-class team were becoming too great for a man of his age and he would now take on the role of general manager.
"United is no longer just a football club," he said, "it is an institution. I feel the demands are beyond one human being."
The new team manager has not yet been chosen but one man that may well be considered for the job is Wilf McGuinness, a former United wing-half, a coach and manager of England Under-23s.
Munich air tragedy
Sir Matt is English football's longest serving manager. He took over United in 1945 and has since had a superlative record of achievement.
With the £1 million in profits he has since made for the club he rebuilt Old Trafford, which had been badly damaged by the blitz.
He has managed three highly successful teams. The first won the 1948 FA Cup Final against Blackpool.
The second team of talented young players, known as the "Busby Babes", included Bobby Charlton and Duncan Edwards.
In 1958 tragedy struck when eight players were killed in an air crash at Munich after competing for the European Cup against Red Star Belgrade in Yugoslavia.
Sir Matt was seriously injured but survived, along with Charlton who said of him today: "Matt Busby's presence will always be at Manchester United. He is Manchester United."
After the Munich tragedy, Sir Matt built up his third team, which included the transfer of Denis Law from Italian side Torino for a record fee of £116,000.
In May last year United beat Portuguese team Benfica 4-1 to win the European Cup - the first English side to do so.
In June Sir Matt was awarded a knighthood.
That was the news that broke our hearts - the great man was leaving, what was to become of us? I remember constantly asking Dad in the hope that he would be able to give me the answer, his answer of "He deserves his retirement" wasn't enough. Like today's young fans I had known nothing else but United and Matt, to have one without the other was unthinkable
Rumours abounded, Jock Stein, Bobby Charlton, nobody thought Wilf had it in him, sadly we were right
I'll never forget the last match, because of postponements and the back log the last game with Matt in charge actually took place at home to Leicester City on the 17th May, it was probably one of the most emotional days ever at Old Trafford, men and women wept openly around the stadium, when the final whistle went just about everyone was on the pitch chanting the name "Busby, Busby" he finally came out and the roar was deafening, the fans wouldn't go home, nobody wanted to leave, we seemed to think as long as we stayed there he was still in charge.
To be honest as far as the results for a new manager Wilf did alright in his first season, we finished 8th, the previous year, Matt's last we had finished 11th, he also got us to the Semi Finals of the League and FA Cup, everything looked pretty good for Wilf on the surface, especially after we beat Liverpool 4-1 at Anfield
Underneath that surface, apart from the fact Wilf had problems with some of the more senior players there were two words that caused him massive headaches and would eventually wreck his career, those two words were ---- George Best
Everything hinged on him, Bobby was just a shadow of his former self, it was as though after 29th May 1968 his career was fulfilled and he just went through the motions, Denis was slowed right down thanks to his crippling injuries, the young lads weren't coming through anymore, and then after a shocking defeat at Goodison we went and signed Ian Ure there was an element of panic around the club ---- even so 8th and two semi finals was ok
But there were problems off the field, our fans had now become the worst in the country, every single away game turned into a riot, part of the Stretford End got cordoned off after Bobby Moncur got hit with a flick knife causing Old Trafford to be shut for two home games
The other problem was the sudden influx of new fans after we won the European Cup and the exit of the older fans because of the swearing and violence that streamed out of the Stretford End, and those new fans demanded instant success, and even worse it lead to conflict inside Old Trafford, during a 4-1 home defeat to Southampton sections of the crowd began booing United, next thing fighting broke out at various points around the ground, even near us in the Paddock as long standing fans laid into the boo boys
Rumours and accusations abounded about unrest within the team, everyone knew that Bobby and George had stopped speaking to each other, Denis Law clashed firstly with team mate, John Fitzpatrick at Palace and then with Ian Ure during the Leeds match
Then came Eva Haroldstead, or as George said, "Me and a pair of tits" firstly they got engaged (George and the owner of the tits), then they broke it off, (the engagement not the tits) then she sued George for breach of promise, then Paddy broke her boyfriends jaw ... fiasco and trouble we cold do without
Then George built himself a house, more trouble, then he ended up locked in Sinead Cusacks flat with the press camped on the doorstep, then came suspensions and trouble with everyone
Finally halfway through the following season Wilf got sacked, the club was heading for disaster, there was a complete breakdown in the dressing rooms, stories that more senior players wouldn't take orders from WIlf, and rumours that training sessions had become a complete joke, So Wilf went and Matt returned, United steadied and moved away from relegation
Some good things happened, George got 6 against Northampton after a six week suspension, but what was causing the headaches for us fans was which United were we watching? If we had been average we could have lived with that, but we weren't, for 3-4 matches we would be woeful, so bad that by half time the chants started to fade, we were absolutely useless
Then all of sudden, the same 11 players, same pitch, same stadium and you'd think you were watching Brazil against Doncaster Rovers, a superb fluid football machine, beat anyone in the world, next week back to total crap again
Stepney was all that stood between us and some of the biggest defeats in history
Then came O'Farrell, what more can I say than to quote Denis Law "He came and went a stranger"
Even now I know absolutely nothing about him, he was so remote. Yet at first we thought we had found the man
We had to play 2 home games away from Old Trafford as a punishment for crowd trouble, O'Farrell tried to get Wembley as our home ground, we were impressed, "This guy thinks nothing is too good for United"
He again did ok, in fact he did better than ok, it came to Christmas and we were out in front - top of the league, won 17 of our first 21 matches, and we won them well, we only lost two, one against Leeds at Old Trafford that....... well a questionable referee on first name terms with the Leeds players didn't help.
Then the wheels fell off, we never won a single game until the end of March, it was abysmal
But we finished 8th again, a big disappointment after leading the way for so long, but really for a first season in charge it wasn't bad
Then he made the first of his big mistakes, at the last match of the season after the final whistle blew the usual pitch invasion took place ---- he never came out
That pissed a lot of people off, he said that he didn't see the point we hadn't won anything, the United players tried to persuade him but nope, Paddy reckoned he was home before the fans.
The general idea had gone from "Nothing to good for United" to "He thinks he's too good for us"
Then he went and signed Wyn Davies, George Graham and Ted McDougall - the best that can be said about them is Wyn gave us 110% on the pitch, just a shame he was 10 years past his best
We stuttered and stammered into the start of the season, then we stopped, and we stayed stopped, right at the foot of the 1st Division Table, finally after more trouble with George, drinking and police chases, United sacked both O'Farrell
So we said
Except when Matt said "I want him out of my hair, I don't want to hear his name mentioned here again" he left out the part that when he went and dragged George back from his earlier retirement to run Slack Alice Nightclub he's made George sign a 6 year contract
and that contract sat snugly in Matt Busby's safe, behind Matt Busby's desk in Matt Busby's office - if George thought he was retired he had another think coming, and as far as taking the advice of the press and selling him, United had about as much intention of doing that as they did about turning the ground into an ice cream parlour
Thanks to Matt again we avoided relegation by 4 points,
4 points, that's how close this club came to going out of existence as we know it
If we had gone down that season we would have been doomed, it was only because we were still a 1st Division club Docherty came that summer
A poll was conducted by the Daily Mirror, not one of the other 20 managers said they would take the job for any amount of money, even Shankly said if he was just starting out again it would be the last job in the world to take, he'd rather sweep the streets
So Docherty came, thankfully between them George and Alex Stepney along with Matt's interventions had bought United enough time until the right man came, one who not only took us into the Second Division but brought us straight back up again and built a team that stayed up
They were dreadful times though, Matt had left shoes that were to big to fill, people were absolutely scared shitless of the job, even Herra from Inter Milan laughed when they asked him about it, "You think I am A FOOL?"
Many people said it was Matt's fault for staying on as general Manager, it's a good job he did, O'Farrell wanted to buy every 35 year old in the 4th Division, if Matt hadn't been around and we had gone down with O'Farrell we would still be in the second division, back then you got relegated you stayed relegated, many teams kept on going into the 4th division ask Ipswich, Champions one year in the 4th division 5 years later
The biggest shock when Docherty first came was the return of George Best, the second biggest shock was when he played his first game back, I was horrified, you think Ronaldo is fat, should of seen George, I was in tears, Matt was gone, Denis had gone, my era was over. It was heartbreaking
Just some myths to explode though .... about Docherty, some of you may have seen the film "BEST" in this Docherty abuses Bobby and Nobby on a regular basis, hate to tell the film makers this, but both had left the Club before Docherty got here
The other one is Docherty says George turned up pissed and with a woman for the game against Plymouth Argyle, that is a complete and disgusting lie, I was stood at the players entrance when George arrived with Paddy Crerand, so were many others, I got both their autographs in fact, there was no woman and George was in fact starting to look like his old self
They were terrible times though, relegation was the best thing that happened in the end, it didn't seem like it at the time, but something had to happen, the club needed breathing space and hopefully in the Second Division we would be out of the lime light and get left alone, that didn't happen, we set the place on fire, if anything we attracted more reporters than ever, the BBC had to start showing our matches to save their MOTD programme
Maybe when Sir Alex goes I might have a break from football for a decade or so, once in a lifetime is enough to go through that