Showing posts with label Sir Denis Law. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sir Denis Law. Show all posts

Suspension of all football matches due to Coronavirus pandemic

Club released a statement on Friday, 13th March confirming the suspension of football matches with immediate affect. The matches slated to be played till the end of this month have been impacted. This follows behind closed door game against LASK Linz which United won emphatically 5-0 with Tahith Chong fresh from signing a new contract created two assists. There has been instances in the past where the season has been suspended due to unusual winter weather or hooliganism that has disrupted the season but were able to resume and finish nonetheless. Example the 1962-63 season had to be extended by a month due to the Big Freeze to complete the backlog which seems challenging due to this summer's Euro 2020.

After the boxing day match in December 1962 the next one that United played was on 23 February. Without the outlet of playing that few used to vent their frustrations things came to a head regarding the tactics and training when few seniors like skipper Noel Cantwell, Maurice Setters, Harry Greg questioned the methods. Post Munich it was the ever reliable ex-keeper Jack Crompton who conducted the training sessions on Sir Matt's behest. Players targeted Jack but actually wanted to know the reaction of 'the Boss' if he was receptive to the ideas that were flooding the game at Ipswich, Tottenham, Leeds, Liverpool, Celtic et al. During clear the air meeting 'the Boss' was all ears and Jack did speak out on being targeted especially by Cantwell. The Boss knew about these murmurs more than everyone thought and it merely confirmed to him the team's receptiveness. Like Bruno Fernandes now, it was Pat Crerand then who had joined the club recently and the fortunes of the club started turning positively.

Despite finishing 19th just avoiding relegation United won their first trophy after Munich the 1963 FA Cup where 4th placed Leicester City were the favourites who had one of the best defenses in the league with keeper Gordon Banks, captain Colin Appleton, Ian King and Frank McLintok dubbed the 'Ice Kings'. Crerand flourished in the wide expanse of Wembley after struggling to settle at Old Trafford initially, created the crucial passes for Law to score that was captured by Alan Hoby of Sunday Express as "a deadly duet danced by those two tartan magicians, Crerand and Law." United played Leicester twice in two days on 15th and 16th April over Easter drawing the first match 2-2 at home and losing a scintillating encounter 3-4 away where Denis Law scored a hat-trick that was cancelled by hat-trick of Ken Keyworth that took Leicester to the top of the league.

Freeze meant United played 3rd to 6th round of FA Cup matches in March starting with a 5-0 win over Huddersfield Town where Denis Law scored a hat-trick then beat Aston Villa, Chelsea, Coventry City and Southampton in semi-final in April all without needing a replay. Albert Quixall scored in the first four FA Cup matches and converted a crucial penalty after Denis Law was fouled to draw 1-1 at Maine Road the result that kept red half of Manchester in the league while relegating the blue half. Youth Cup winners of 64 in George Best, David Sadler, Bobby Noble, John Aston Jr, John Fitzpatrick, Jimmy Rimmer then combined to provide the exuberance with Shay Brennan, Tony Dunne, David Gaskell, Nobby Stiles, Johnny Giles that jelled with the experience of the seniors Bobby Charlton, Denis Law, Bill Foulkes, David Herd, Paddy Crerand needed to lift the team to glory.

Euro 2020 is being held in 12 different countries this time to commemorate the 60th year of the tournament with finals to be staged in Wembley. If the outbreak is not curtailed by end of this month UEFA and FA will have a tough decision to make; either allow the league to finish provided Euro's are postponed to next year in which the new expanded Club World Cup format is to be rolled out by FIFA or end the league season as is to let the Euro's be staged. Last time a season was involuntarily interrupted completely was in 1939-40 which only managed to have three games played before the second world war halted all major football till 1946-47. United had started the '39 season with a win and a draw then traveled to London to play Charlton Athletic to whom they lost 0-2. Next day war was declared and within two days the entire league season was cancelled.

This is the second break of the season after the FA introduced a winter break in February for the first time. After freeze United needed to play 18 league matches and 6 FA Cup matches which meant playing 7 league games in month of April and May each which was a huge ask. Now United just need to play 9 times in league, 3 times in FA Cup and 6 times in Europe if they go all the way to the finals. In 60's cup was probably given higher importance by finishing it first except for semi and finals but now the league might be given the first priority then European competitions and lastly the FA Cup that has all Premier League clubs in quarter-finals that compounds the situation. Euro 2020 starts from 13th June but with major leagues having their national teams based in their own countries the traveling logistics at the start of the tournament are minimized. United have already played 9 games each in December and January, and similar number of games are required to be played in April and May to complete the season which is definitely possible. Hoping the efforts of everyone to limit the spread of virus comes good. God speed!

United are on a 11 game unbeaten run since the shock loss to Burnley. Unlike the issues that cropped up for Busby despite just one loss in nine league games prior to suspension, Solskjaer is in a much healthier terrain having taken tough structural decisions early about the deadwood, getting the recruitment right, reorganized the setup at youth level, getting the best out of Fred, easing Williams and Greenwood, naming Maguire as captain, winning over Matic and all this despite injuries to Martial, Shaw, McTominay, Rashford and Pogba. Busby did hold his flock together while inducting the youth to reap the rewards.

19th February a momentous day for Manchester United through the ages

1910: First official game was played at the new home of Manchester United - Old Trafford. Gracious host lost to Liverpool 3-4 who would become their perennial rivals from 60's. Sandy Turnbull scored the first goal at the new home for United. The decision to move from Bank street was backed by club chairman John Henry Davies who hired best stadium architect Archibald Leitch to build a brand new home befitting the league winners of 1907. The stadium also hosted two FA Cup finals including the 1911 replay and 1915 khaki cup final cementing its place as one of the finest and largest stadiums in England since. United finished fifth in their first season at Old Trafford and in the next won the league championship in 1910-11 for the second time in their history. 110 year celebration on the clubs official website. Guests received an invitation to the official opening of Old Trafford

"The President (Mr J H Davies) and Directors of the Manchester United Football Club ask your acceptance of enclosed, and extend a cordial invitation to attend the opening match on Saturday next.

The ground is situated at Old Trafford near the County Cricket Ground, and can be reached by three tram routes: Deansgate, Piccadilly and St Peter's Square.


The ground when completed will hold over 100,000 people. The present Stand will accommodate 12,000 people seated."

Due to cost overruns the capacity was limited to 80,000. Since the days of Busby Babes in late 50's United have best attendance record of any club in England and the farsightedness of John Henry Davies makes the club self-sufficient and the envy of every multi-billionaire investors around the world.

1939: Birth of Paddy Crerand whose assists were critical in many of the goals in the 60's and was the last piece of jigsaw that led United back to its glory days starting with FA Cup win in '63 within months of him joining the Red Devils. "If Pat Crerand plays well, United play well." was the famous adage to describe his influence over the team.

1945: Sir Matt Busby signs the contract to become the manager of Manchester United who were without any full time manager since Scott Duncan stood down in November 1937. He was the first tracksuit manager in England aged just 34. After the Ernest Mangnall era United had to wait 41 years to win their next league title in '52. But Busby laid the foundations of a modern football club based on progressing youth through the ranks and attacking flair that would forever be its DNA. Sir Alex Ferguson famously said that all he had to do was to copy the Busby blueprint. He took over the reins in October after being demobilized at the end of second world war where he served as company sergeant-major instructor.

1958: The first match after the Munich air disaster was held at Old Trafford wherein they faced Sheffield Wednesday in the postponed tie. Manchester United did not have enough fit players to take the field so the printed program notes had blanks instead of names in the team sheet highlights the uncertainty till the kick-off. It was left to the inspirational Jimmy Murphy to continue the show with full backing from Matt Busby still in hospital and club chairman Harold Hardman. Murphy signed Ernie Taylor although 33 but the man behind Blackpool's '53 FA Cup final and Stan Crowther from Aston Villa who had originally agreed to travel to Manchester to watch this FA Cup tie to decide for himself but four hours before kick-off Murphy's words convinced him to not only sign but play on the same day! Thousands of people stood outside Old Trafford even as 59,848 filled the stadium to show their solidarity with the club in its darkest hour. The team included five reserve players and Brennan one among them scored twice in that game while managing to score only 4  more in twelve further years at United: Gregg, Foulkes (C), Greaves, Goodwin, Cope, Crowther, Webster, Taylor, Dawson, Pearson, Brennan. United had struggled against them earlier in the season losing 1-2 but on this emotionally charged occasion ran out 3-0 winners.

1964: Thumped Bolton Wanderers 5-0 at home with goals from Best(2), Herd(2) and Charlton to set off on a eight match unbeaten run that made United challenge Liverpool and settle for second position after losing the their head-to-head match 0-3 at Anfield. Sir Denis Law would score 46 goals that season his best tally to win the Ballon d'Or. Next season United would go one better to win the league for fourth time under Sir Matt Busby.

1972: Lost to Leeds United 1-5 at Elland Road the biggest defeat of the season in the middle of seven match losing streak that dragged United who were the league leaders till Christmas in the first year of Frank O'Farrell to finally finish eight. This defeat prompted United to sign Martin Buchan the Aberdeen captain for club record fee of 120,000 pounds just ten days later. Buchan became the first captain to win both Scottish and English FA Cups and clearly the clubs most distinguished player of the 70's.

1997: Won 2-1 away at Arsenal their direct rivals without the suspended Eric Cantona who would retire at the end of the season. This match gave a glimpse of life without the clubs iconic No 7 player Eric Cantona perhaps the most influential in the last 30 years. New signing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored in this crucial game and topped the scoring chart with 19 goals in all competitions. David Beckham won the young player of the year award and the succeeded the Frenchman to the No 7 jersey and while experienced Teddy Sheringham was now the go to man to provide the winning edge.

2003: Beat Juventus at home 2-1 in the group D fixture of the Champions' League to top the group with goals from Wes Brown and Ruud van Nistelrooy. This raised the expectations of United reaching the final which would be held at Old Trafford. United lost to Real Madrid 5-6 in a thriller of a quarter-final tie which set off the rumours of Beckham joining Madrid amid Ferguson kicking a shoe accidentally at him. Real lost to Juventus in semi who lost to AC Milan in the all Italian finals that was a bore to watch.

PS: Yep that's my birthday!

United should honour Docherty now as they realize the task Solskjaer has

Tommy Docherty was sacked as Manchester United manager after winning the 1977 FA Cup as reports of his affair with club physio's wife was made public. More details emerged about the way he conducted deals out of advertisements, tour games, tickets for FA Cup matches, belittling the senior players etc during the libel he threw at Willie Morgan who called him "about the worst manager there had ever been." The impulsive Docherty retorted "Any manager who says he has not cheated or lied is not being honest." Based on Sir Matt Busby's high standards he should have sent Docherty off much before winning the first major trophy for MUFC after he won the European Cup in 1968.

Docherty was managing Scotland with Jimmy Johnstone, Kenny Dalglish, Billy Bremner, Peter Lorimer, Denis Law, Lou Macari, Martin Buchan calling them "the most talented squad the national team has ever been able to call upon" who were well on their way to qualify for 1974 World Cup. Sir Matt Busby poached him after consulting seniors in the team from Scotland. With the retirement of Sir Bobby Charlton at the end of the season MUFC board had a huge outlay for transfers and Doc brought four Scottish players in Alex Forsyth, George Graham, Lou Macari and Jim Holton to being dubbed the first million dollar team. Drew 1-1 with Leeds United in his first match and once played eight Scottish players in a league match against West Ham. Incidentally MUFC lost to Arsenal in the first match of '73 and went out of the FA Cup to Wolves 0-1. MUFC avoided relegation by finishing 18th but the next season they succumbed.

Docherty' reign preceded with the sacking of George Best simultaneously with that of previous manager Frank O'Farrell and the Ulsterman was persuaded to re-join briefly between Oct '73 to Jan '74 [Won 2, Drew 4, Lost 7, scored twice]. Charlton ended his career in his first season and then Doc transfer listed Denis Law who joined local rivals City to send MUFC infamously into the second division with his back heel. End of the United Trinity of Ballon d'Or winners with 287 most amazing matches between them starting with 4-1 win over West Brom when all three scored on 18, Jan 1964 to 28, Oct 1972 in a 1-4 loss to Tottenham!

To call the rebuild task as monumental might also be an understatement: Tommy Cavanagh as his assistant to instill discipline in the squad, appointed Brentford manager Frank Blunstone as youth coach: Arthur Albiston, Gerry Daly, Brian Greenhoff, David McCreery, Jimmy Nicholl came to the fore; moved Sammy McIlroy to midfield, gave MUFC their identity back in Steve Coppell and Gordon Hill on the wings, shrewd purchase of Stan Pearson and Jimmy Greenhoff who reserved his special for Liverpool, won promotion immediately finishing 3rd in the league and reached the FA Cup final in '76, Stopped LFC from winning the treble with that '77 FA Cup win. MUFC became the 1st English team to win the European treble under Ferguson in 1999. Led MUFC back in Europe for the first time since Busby with UEFA Cup beating Ajax but lost to Juventus in the next round despite winning the 1st leg 1-0 with a Gordon Hill masterclass while the absence of skipper Marin Buchan cost the 2nd leg.

Doc was last at Old Trafford in 2014 the experience apparently that left him sore "I won’t be back at United after them charging me for my tickets about three years ago. I got an invoice for £88 for two seats so that was it for me. If I fancy a game locally I’ll phone up Mike Summerbee at City and they always look after me. But I’m done with United." Dave Sexton who did the double over MUFC with modest Coventry might have been at Old Trafford assisting numerous England coaches. While Ron Atkinson upset MUFC with Sheffield Wednesday in League Cup final and appears on MUTV quite regularly. Doc never managed to be at a club for more than 2 seasons after his MUFC tenure and later confessed to be regretful about leaving Scotland for MUFC.

Clearly the reasons are not football related but the rebuild that has lasted till Ferguson's appointment does not justify the impertinence shown towards Tommy Docherty now in his 90's. He should have been invited for the opening game of this season which was against Doc's Chelsea for whom he played, managed and changed their colours from White to Blue. Wolves the last major club he managed whom MUFC face in the FA Cup 3rd round replay at Old Trafford this Wednesday offers the club another chance.

On this day: 14-Jan-1969 Sir Matt Busby announced his decision to retire at the end of the season and become general manager at MUFC.

Wish Ole did a Shankly about Managerial contract

60 years ago in the 1959-60 season this fixture #MUNLIV did not happen in the league as Liverpool FC were in the old 2nd division and legendary Bill Shankly had just taken over as their manager on 14-Dec-1959 after another tepid start to the season seeking promotion to the old 1st division. Shankly replaced Phil Taylor an ex-Captain of 1950 FA Cup final fame who succeeded Sir Matt Busby the player for LFC between 1936-39 at right half.

Manchester United did meet Liverpool in the FA Cup 4th round, Jan 1960 in the first of 16 meetings between Busby and Shankly. MUFC beat LFC 3-1 away at Anfield in which the maestro Sir Bobby Charlton regained his form after a barren spell to score two expertly taken goals as England coach the ex-MUFC player Walter Winterbottom watched. Bill Shankly later said "It was our misfortune that Bobby hit his real form against us."

It was Bill Shankly who called Sir Matt Busby as "without doubt the greatest manager that ever lived." such was the respect among the two Scottish rivals. In the last season of Shankly 1973-74 MUFC were relegated and tables turned but Busby had been retired for four years.

Shankly had earlier managed Sir Denis Law at Huddersfield Town still in his teens "I'm sure that had I not had Shankly around at that stage of my career, things might have turned out differently." He accepted Ray Wood at Leeds Road in 1958 the goal keeper of the famous Busby Babes team that won two league title's in '56, '57 and an loss in FA Cup final of '57, calling him "the best goal keeper in the second division". Shankly who preferred to 'make stars rather than buy them' enabled Huddersfield Town to become debt free. 1964 saw the only direct player transfer between MUFC and LFC that of 22 year old inside-right Phil Chisnall for #25,000. Later after quitting as manager of LFC, Shankly confirmed to Tommy Docherty the potential of Steve Coppell when Jimmy Murphy had initially scouted him.

In the hindsight given how well Ole Gunnar Solskjaer started as an interim manager, wished he said the following lines from Shankly "Never mind about a contract; give me the team and leave the rest to me." Hope this match is the turning point of the season for MUFC and Ole.

LFC seek the Shankly magic after 60 years to end the 30 year wait to finally win the League, while MUFC would want to once again thwart LFC as they did last season with a battling performance.

Happy 82nd birthday to the ultimate English sporting legend Sir Bobby Charlton

Of the many famous quotes describing Sir Bobby Charlton the one I like the most is undoubtedly from Geoffrey Green: "He always possessed an elemental quality; jinking, changing feet and direction, turning gracefully on the ball or accelerating through a gap surrendered by a confused enemy."

Just ahead of Arthur Hopcraft's The Football Man in which he met Sir Bobby Charlton's sports master Mr McGuiness who had this to say: "Thin lad of 9 playing football with 14 year old's & just waltzing through them. Even at 9 he had a body swerve & a natural check that would take other man the wrong way."

Apart from that much talked about semi-final win over Portugal in the 1966 World Cup, his 68 goals in 3 seasons immediately after Munich on his less favoured left-wing speak volumes of his dedication for Manchester United Football Club. Sir Matt Busby summarized it as "When things looked their blackest after the Munich accident, and there were times when I felt great despair, I was enormously cheered to think that Bobby Charlton was there. His presence was a great source of inspiration to keep working for the restoration of Manchester United."

The official MUFC dedication last year with a poetry was top class. 
Other notable quotes about Sir Bobby Charlton:
"Dispossessing Kostic about forty yards from goal, this gifted boy leaned brilliantly into his stride, made ground rapidly for about ten yards, and the beat the finest goalkeeper on the Continent with a shot of tremendous power and superb placing. There, one thought, surely goes England's Bloomer of the future."
Don Davies the 'Old International' of Manchester Guardian 5th Feb, 1958, Belgrade

"Bobby Charlton was still there, a cornerstone on which '62 side was to be built. Alongside me, Busby bought Cantwell, Setters, Herd. These were the new 'Busby Babes': Giles, Stiles, Chisnal, Nicholson, Lawton. Little did we know how good it was going to get over the next 5 years."
Sir Denis Law on his arrival from Torino

"I have nothing but respect for Bobby now, but we were totally different characters, and for a long time didn't get on. There was one similarity. Like me, he was his own man." 
George Best

"England beat us in 1966 because Bobby Charlton was just a bit better than me."
Franz Beckenbauer

"He was a global star of his day. Go to any country in the world and even if they couldn't speak English, the two words they did know were: 'Bobby Charlton.'"
Sir Geoff Hurst

"Some say Bobby Charlton was a scorer of great goals, rather than a great goalscorer. Yet no player has scored more for England and no player has scored more for its greatest club , Manchester United. So his 49 goals for England and his 249 for United can’t all have been 25-yard thunderbolts – it just seems that way in the mind’s eye. When he hammered one into the top corner from long range it was as if he were a man possessed, desperate to separate the leather casing from the bladder. I made virtually all of my 57 England appearances alongside Bob and I can remember few greater competitors and few greater professionals. His fellow greats like Best and Moore did not lead blameless lives away from the game but Bob was dedicated to his craft.His sainted image made it difficult when you played against United though, because although I never heard him swear at a referee, Bob would moan at them constantly and they would be so in awe of the great man that they’d usually do as they were told. I can remember, more than once, yelling: “F***ing hell ref, why don’t you just give Bobby the whistle, you might as well!” But this is a man who survived the Munich air disaster in 1958, won the World Cup in 1966, the European Cup in 1968 and played a key role in the appointment of Alex Ferguson as Old Trafford manager in 1986. He’s history in the flesh is Bobby Charlton. He’s our greatest living football man."
Jimmy Greaves

Four-time FA Youth Cup winner, FA Cup winner, Thrice English League winner, 1966 World Cup winner, Ballon d'Or winner/European Footballer of the Year, FWA Footballer of the Year, European Cup winner!!!

Easily the Greatest English sporting legend who conquered it all.

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