How Matt Busby became Manchester United’s pioneer

Credit: Allsport Hulton/Archive
Credit: Allsport Hulton/Archive /

The former Manchester United boss was integral in making the Red Devils into the goliath institution that they are today. Here is how he did it.

War had wreaked havoc across England. By the end of it, the country was in total disrepair. Matt Busby, who’s playing career had been cut short by it, had endured a tumultuous time. He was enlisted in the King’s Liverpool regiment and became a sergeant major. However, even during the war, he clung onto football and coached the military football team. By 1945, Busby was itching to get back to proper football. After a short stint as assistant manager of Liverpool, he must have been delighted when Manchester United came calling.

The Red Devils were nowhere near the behemoths they are now. Old Trafford was dilapidated and the club had hardly experienced any vestiges of success.

Busby came to end the barren rut. His vision did not align at Liverpool, but at United he would be given a free reign.

More from Red Devil Armada

As a player and as a temporary coach in the military, Busby had learnt his trade and his experiences fundamentally changed his approach to football.

At United he was eager to rekindle the army and schoolboy spirit. Busby wanted to build a team full of comrades. Player who had grown up with one another and who had an innate understanding of their fellow team-mates and a special brotherly bond.

Busby was young. He was just 35 at the time, but his boisterous spirit and his assistant Jimmy Murphy quickly instilled belief in the Red Devils.

Just three years after his appointment, United had lifted just their second ever FA Cup trophy.

Much of Busby’s success hinged on his innovative incorporation of youth players into the team.

Busby and Murphy would often delve into the club’s academy to unearth gems such as Bobby Charlton, Duncan Edwards and Billy Foulkes.

This incorporation of the youth would play dividends, Busby’s United swept the opposition away in the 1950s and 60s.

The young Red Devils played three flowing attacking football and there were seldom any need to make signings. Busby could always rely on his academy.

Busby’s young team would later be dubbed as the ‘Busby babes’ by Manchester Evening News journalist Tom Jackson.

Many would try to imitate Busby’s success, including Alex Ferguson decades later, and the academy at United still plays a vital part to the success of the team. The emergence of the likes of Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Marcus Rashford all stemmed from Busby’s legacy.

Matt Busby was a true pioneer and without his contributions United would not exist as the team we know and love today.

dark. Next. United could part ways with their star player to land Kalidou Koulibaly

Who is your favourite Manchester United youth graduate?