Thanks big man
Full Name Alexander Matthew Busby
Date of Birth 26th May 1909
Place of Birth Orbiston, Glasgow
United under Busby: 1945-1969
League P W D L
924 481 162 281
FA Cup P W D L
98 61 17 20
Europe P W D L
58 35 11 12
Honours won for United
1968 European Cup
1967 1st Div League Championship
1965 1st Div League Championship
1963 F.A. Cup
1957 1st Div League Championship
1956 1st Div League Championship
1952 1st Div League Championship
1948 F.A. Cup
At the back of Old Trafford's East Stand stands a statue of Sir Matt Busby. Many who pass by it on match-day probably do not realise that without him they wouldn't be there. They'd be most likely supporting some other football team. Sir Alex Ferguson's success has made Manchester United the Goliath of world football that it is today but it was built upon Busby's legendary foundations.
For, Busby is the man who made Manchester United a world famous name way back in the 1950's. He established the club's footballing ideology, its playing style and philosophy, while in the process building two of English football's most famous ever teams.
Born in Orbiston, Lanarkshire, Busby was a legend hewn from the same rock as those other Scottish managerial legends Bill Shankly, Jock Stein and of course, Sir Alex Ferguson.
As a player he was a half-back who won one international cap for Scotland in 1933 and an FA Cup Winner's medal for Manchester City in the following year. Ironically Busby played for United's bitter rivals Manchester City from 1929 to 1936 and for Liverpool from 1936 to 1939. His playing career was cut short by the outbreak of war, in which he served in the Army Physical Training Corps.
In 1945 at the young age of 36, he was offered a job on the coaching staff at Anfield. Luckily he turned it down and accepted the post as manager of Manchester United. It was a daunting task as the club were in disarray. Old Trafford had been heavily damaged in the blitz of World War 2 and the team was poor, 14th in Division One and had achieved little success in the previous 15 years.
It's fair to say, Manchester United then, were like the present-day Sheffield Wednesday or Man City. A big northern club with potential, but under-achievers and not really supported or renowned outside of their own city. United had not won a trophy since 1911, a gap of 34 years. Arsenal were undeniably the biggest club in England following their four League title wins in the 1930s.
Busby's First Great Team
Busby set about changing that. The Scotsman believed in attacking free-flowing football, he wanted his teams to not only be successful but to excite the crowd as well. This approach would form the basis of United's playing style through to the present day.
The team played at Maine Road for his first 3 years as Old Trafford had been bombed out in the war. While the stadium was being rebuilt so was the team for in 1947 a large youth policy was organised and the scouting system was expanded and reorganised. By skilful planning and wise buying Busby created a team that made it to the 1948 FA Cup Final and defeated Blackpool 4-2.
Playing were the first of the pre-war United greats, Carey, Mitten, Pearson and Rowley. From this success, after being runners-up for years, United went on to win the League Championship in 1952 scoring bucket-loads of goals along the way.
Busby The Man
Unlike his pre WWII predecessor Scott Duncan and a lot of managers of the era, Busby was very much a hands-on, modern style of management. He preferred to wear a track-suit and to coach his players on the training pitch, that way he could get his idea's directly across to his players.
The image of Busby is very often that of a kindly grandfather figure who preferred his assistant, Jimmy Murphy to do the disciplining. The truth is that Busby used this image in public but in private he could be as ruthless as any.
It would be naive to to think someone without some degree of steel could win as much in the cut-throat world of football. Unlike many, he was not an advocate of improved player power with better contracts and wages. While he tolerated the wayward genius of George Best he punished other players harshly, such as Charlie Mitten, for stepping out of line and undermining his managerial authority.
The Busby Babes And Munich
Following the 1952 season's success Busby felt his team had lost its edge, the fire and flair had gone. To remedy this he made a drastic and famous decision by replacing most of his first team players with bright exciting young players: the legendary Busby Babes were born.
A team of mainly youngsters took the league by storm and brought a breath of optimistic fresh air to austere post-war England. With such talents as Bobby Charlton, Duncan Edwards, Eddie Colman, Dennis Viollet, Tommy Taylor, Bill Foulkes and Jackie Blanchflower, they were exciting, brilliant and devastating. Two League titles followed in 1956, and 1957, and the visionary Busby entered United into the European Champions Cup.
As the first English club to do so, Busby rightly saw European competition as the future of club football and defied the League's opposition. It was a vision not shared by the narrow minded Football authorities at the time. They gave United no help in fixture arrangements meaning the team was frequently rushing back from European games with little preparation.
After returning home from a Euro game against Red Star Belgrade in 1958 tragedy struck when the team plane crashed on a Munich airfield killing many of the aircraft's passengers, including eight of the players and severely injuring Busby. The team that were champions of England for the past two season had been almost entirely wiped out.
The Busby Babes were gone and the world was robbed of players like Edwards and Taylor forever. The tragedy had a profound effect upon the British people. Munich became not a Manchester United disaster but a national disaster. In this less cynical age, a huge wave of sympathy and support welled up for United. Fans from all over the world now knew of the great team from Manchester that was wiped out. People who had merely followed the results of their team felt drawn to the club, those who had never followed them before, now had a special place in their hearts for United.
Busby Returns To Conquer Europe
Busby, after first doubting he could carry on, recovered from his injuries and set about creating the third great and greatest of all sides. The one that would do what his babes never did. Again his youth policy was established and United uncovered the talents of Stiles, Brennan, Kidd and the genial George Best.
Together with Munich survivor Bobby Charlton, signings Crerand and Denis Law, United were soon back at the top winning the FA Cup in 1963 and two League titles in 1965 and 67. Playing as the babes before, with style, genius, flair and attacking brilliance, the 60s United of Charlton, Best and Law captured a whole new legion of fans and the imagination of football fans the world over.
The 1967 win gave Busby probably one last crack at his "holy grail" and on May 29th 1968, the greatest of his three United sides won the European Cup defeating Benfica 4-1. The entire nation was behind United on that night, people wanted them to win it for those lost in Munich. This was Busby's greatest achievement, the first English side to win the trophy, so exorcising the ghosts of Munich, now Manchester United had become a national institution.
Busby was knighted in 1968 and having achieved his goal, retired from Manchester United as manager in 1969. He still maintained a role at Old Trafford as general manager and this would effect his successor. Aged only 31, Wilf McGuinness was appointed in April 1969 but the Scottish legend's shadow loomed large over him. Sadly McGuinness was a dismal failure and the board made Busby take charge again in December 1970 to steer the club from the relegation situation it found itself in.
In June 1971 Busby handed over power to Frank O'Farrell and took up a position on the United board. Sir Matt was always going to be a hard act to follow. His immediate successors were always in his shadow and simply could not live up to the high standards he set. As the stars of the Sixties retired or moved on they were not adequately replaced, plus the mercurial George Best desperately needed Busby's fatherly influence to curb his rebellious instincts.
The club went into sharp decline and relegation followed in 1974. Only 6 years after their greatest moment the Reds were at their lowest point since the 1930s. Eventually United got back to winning ways but no-one could come close to Busby's achievements until 1986 when another canny Scot called Alex Ferguson came south of the border. Busby went on to become United's club president in 1982 and also had a high position in the Football League management committee.
On the 20th January 1994 Busby died aged 85, but he lived long enough to see the red empire he created in safe hands. He had taken great pleasure in presiding over Ferguson's revival in which United played with the style and flair he had loved in his own teams. United were the best in the land once again and 5 years later, on his birthday in 1999 they would better his achievement of 1968 and win the Treble of European Cup, FA Cup and Premier League title.
The legacy of Busby is that he provided the foundation, philosophy, style and passion that turned a once ordinary club from the grim industrial North of England, into today the most famous, glamorous, richest and now undoubtedly biggest team in the world. Sir Matt Busby created the Manchester United legend and in doing so, has himself became a legend forever in footballing history.
Busby was born in a two-roomed pitman's cottage in the mining village of Orbiston. The village has since been absorbed by the larger town of Bellshill.
His family is partially Eastern European Jewish in origin. His father and all his uncles were killed in World War I.
Known to all as Matt, his first name was in fact Alexander - meaning both Manchester United's greatest ever manager's share the same Christian name.
As a player Busby joined Liverpool for £8,000 from Manchester City in March 1936 and was immediately made captain.
He was mentioned in a line in the Beatles song, "Dig It".
Sir Matt did not buy any players between 1953-57. Before Munich, he bought only 16 players and 4 of those were goalkeepers.
At Munich, Busby was so severely injured that doctors gave him little chance of recovery. He was twice given last rites.
As well as the Knighthood from the Queen in 1968, Busby (who was very religious) was made a Knight Commander of St Gregory in 1972. This is one of the highest civil honours in the Roman Catholic church.
In 1958 Busby persuaded wealthy local butcher Louis Edwards to invest his money in the club. By 1964 Edwards was chairman and his family held power at Old Trafford until 2000.
Sir Matt's seat in the Old Trafford directors box remained un-used for many years after his death until his son Sandy decided in 2002 that it should be made available again.
On retirement, the Edwards family gave Busby the proceeds of the United Souvenir shop as a pension fund. This arrangement ended when the club became a PLC in 1991.
The nickname "The Red Devils" was started by Busby. In the early 1960's Salford Rugby club were known as "The Red Devils" but Sir Matt liked the sound of it and adopted it for Manchester United.
In 1993 Warwick Road North was renamed Sir Matt Busby Way in his honour.
The Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year Award is a prestigious honour in which the fans vote for their favourite United player that season. Eric Cantona, David Beckham, Roy Keane and Ruud van Nistelrooy are past winners with Gabriel Heinze the current holder.