Former United midfielder Johnny Giles relives his early career in Manchester and discusses the title race...
So you started out at United – that must have been some experience?
I went to Manchester United when I was 15 and the people of Manchester were great. I made great friends. I lived with Nobby Stiles and his parents in Collyhurst and worked for a year in Altrincham so I knew a lot of the local lads in Manchester.
Was it a grounding that stood you in good stead throughout your career?
Very much so. I came when I was 15 and like all lads played in the Juniors and the Reserves. It definitely stood me in good stead and Jimmy Murphy was a big influence.
Competition for places must have been intense…
When I came in 1956, it was the time of the Busby Babes and there was an unbelievable amount of talent at the club. Obviously it was pre-Munich, as you know, and Bobby [Charlton] was only breaking into the team at the time of the air disaster. Bobby was absolutely brilliant.
To the present team and some people still say United aren’t playing that well at the moment but is any criticism harsh?
They’re just playing better than anybody else! We all knew it but it’s now officially a two-horse race and I wouldn’t write United off. I’m not saying anybody is but I wouldn’t discount them at all. It’s touch and go.
Will it all come down to the derby at the Etihad Stadium?
It’s obviously a six-pointer and people keep saying that but there’s so many games to play before then and you’re bound to get unusual results along the way. People think United will win all their games and City will win all theirs but there have been some strange results since the start of the season. United were beaten by Blackburn at Old Trafford and, a couple of years ago, when they won the league, they were beaten twice by City. You can’t take anything for granted. Consistency wins you the league but the derby is going to be huge and it could well decide it providing they both win all the games before then.
It’s a lot easier to win games on paper isn’t it?
It’s very easy on paper! If you tried to predict the season from start to end, you’d be surprised how far wrong you’d go. You’d