Paddy Crerand.

United legends attend premiere of Busby film

Thursday 14 November 2019 08:54

Manchester United stars from down the years graced the red carpet on Monday night, at the premiere of a new documentary about legendary manager Sir Matt Busby.

Directed by Joe Pearlman and produced by the team behind the 'Class of ‘92' television series, 'Busby' tells the story of the Scot’s 24-year tenure in the Old Trafford hot-seat, from the lows of the Munich Air Disaster to the club’s maiden European Cup win at Wembley a decade later.

Paddy Crerand, who was, of course, a member of that victorious 1968 side, remarked on just how special an achievement Sir Matt’s rebuilding job was when interviewed by MUTV at the Everyman Cinema in Manchester.

“To do what he did was incredible,” said Crerand. “I mean, even after losing the team that he lost in 1958, to go and win the European Cup after that...”

“They’d have probably won the European Cup prior to that and I might never have seen Old Trafford.

“He probably wouldn’t have needed to sign me then with the quality of player that he had!”

Crerand, now 80 and still working for the club, was brought to Manchester from Celtic by Busby in 1963.

He cites Sir Matt as by far the most important figure in his life, outside of his family, and also revealed some of the characteristics that made him such a respected figure in the game.

“He never swore in his life. And do you know something, nobody ever swore in front of him,” added our former midfielder, who also won two First Division titles and an FA Cup under his fellow countryman.

“You can’t believe that a man could be involved in football all that time and not use bad language. Matt didn’t.

“He was totally straight as a die and honest and you knew exactly where you were with him. The only thing you didn’t want was when you got called to him on a Friday afternoon and he put his arm around your shoulder. You knew you were getting dropped!

“He did it in such a lovely way, you felt bad - but you didn’t feel as bad as you probably would have felt.”

The brand of attacking football that Sir Matt instilled, focused around promoting youngsters and playing with a sense of joie de vivre, is still the modus operandi at Old Trafford almost half a century on from his departure.

Along with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, assistant manager Mike Phelan and first-team coach Michael Carrick are among those tasked with keeping the flame Busby helped light alive.

“Words can’t really express everyone’s thoughts about Sir Matt,” said Phelan.

“You know, he created everything about Manchester United, along with those players that he brought through and all those players that express themselves as Man United footballers.

“I think that’s the legacy that they’ve got and Sir Matt as well. We’re all following in those footsteps.”

Mike Phelan on the red carpet at Monday's premiere.

Phelan joined the Reds in 1989 and saw first-hand the fruits of Sir Alex Ferguson’s trust in the club’s youth set-up, with the likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville all coming through during his time as a player.

Carrick came into the team when that trio were all elder statesman in the dressing room, and now the 38-year-old – who retired from the game in May 2018 – is responsible for helping educate and nurture the next generation.

“It’s great to see young players get a chance and even better to see them do well when they’re given that chance,” added the 2008 Champions League-winning midfielder.

“That’s happened for years and years and years and Sir Matt was huge on that.

“Sir Alex used to speak on it an awful lot, he believed in it and we’re just trying to carry that on as best as we can.”

Crerand, Phelan and Carrick were speaking at the world premiere of Busby, on Monday 11 November. The documentary is available on digital download this week and DVD from next week.