The United Trinity statue

On this day: The United Trinity’s first steps

Thursday 18 January 2024 00:01

There have been many red letter days in the history of Manchester United, but one which is relatively under the radar but no less momentous took place on 18 January 1964.

For this is the day when Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and George Best were selected in the same United starting XI for the first time.

Manager Matt Busby decided to unleash the legendary trio in a Division One match against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns and, given what followed, it turned out to be a pretty solid decision, all things considered.

Best had made his United debut in the corresponding home fixture versus the Baggies four months earlier, a match Law missed.

All three players would go on to win the Ballon d'Or, with Best collecting his award here in 1968.

With a view to easing his young charge into life as a senior footballer, Busby had returned the 17-year-old Belfast boy to the second string for three months after his initial breakthrough.

By now champing at the bit again, Best made his second senior appearance for the Reds against Burnley on 28 December 1963, scoring his first goal in the process.

For that game, he appeared alongside Charlton, but not Law, while two weeks later against Birmingham City, Law featured, but not Charlton, with the England international suffering from a chest injury.

One week later, on the occasion of George’s fourth appearance, the stars were aligned. Charlton replaced David Sadler in the starting line-up, and history was made.

The 25,624 fans at The Hawthorns on this Saturday afternoon were not blessed with hindsight and so were wholly unaware of the significance of this event, but each and every one was left in no doubt they were in the presence of greatness.

The Reds ran out 4-1 winners – and there are no prizes for guessing which of our three players ended up on the scoresheet.

Charlton opened the scoring by converting David Herd's cross, although the home side equalised just before the break.

Best doubled our lead early in the second half from close range, before Law registered a brace, with the first coming after West Brom keeper Ray Potter had saved Best's initial shot.

The United Trinity were up and running, and life would never be quite the same again…