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No Munich Air Disaster

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1958-1962

After winning the European cup quarter final against Red Star Belgrade on 5 February 1958, Manchester United travelled home on the plane back to Manchester the next day and were held up by snow at Munich Airport after stopping to refuel. The flight to Manchester took place the next day, leaving the club barely 24 hours for their game against Wolves in the league, which they won 3-1 with 2 goals from Bobby Charlton and 1 from Albert Scanlon. They finished the league season in 4th place, with Wolves as champions, Preston runners-up and Tottenham 4th.


They were more successful in the FA Cup and European Cup. The semi-final of the European Cup paired them with Italian champions AC Milan, who came to Old Trafford for the second leg to find themselves on the end of a 4-0 defeat with goals from Dennis Viollet, Tommy Taylor, Kenny Morgans and Eddie Colman. A goalless draw in the return leg put United through to the final, where they beat Real Madrid 3-0 with goals from Tommy Taylor, Duncan Edwards and Kenny Morgans. The FA Cup adventure continued into the fifth round, with a 6-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday as Dennis Viollet scored a hat-trick and there was a goal each from Tommy Taylor, Billy Whelan and Bill Foulkes. United hosted West Bromwich Albion in the quarter-final, where David Pegg scored all 3 goals in a 3-0 win. The semi-final at Villa Park paired United with Fulham and saw them win 5-2 with 2 goals from Kenny Morgans and a goal each from Billy Whelan, Dennis Viollet and Tommy Taylor. In the final they beat Bolton Wanderers 3-1 with 2 goals from Tommy Taylor and another from David Pegg. It was Taylor's last game for United, as he became the world's most expensive player that summer in a move to Inter Milan worth nearly £100,000. He spent 3 years in Italy, being a prolific goalscorer as Inter won their domestic league title in 1960 and the cup finals of 1959 and 1961 before he returned to England in a £50,000 move to Leicester City, where he spent 6 years and helped them win the League Cup in 1964, as well as being on the losing side to United in the previous year's FA Cup final, and his impressive goalscoring record continued into his mid thirties to ensure that Leicester never finished outside the top 6 in the league.

Taylor's England career lasted until 1965, by which time he had played 74 times and scored 47 goals. He spent the final season of his career back at his hometown club Barnsley, his 40 goals in the 1967-68 season helping them finish runaway champions of the Fourth Division. He returned to Barnsley as manager in May 1972 when they were relegated back to the Fourth Division, and took them straight back up as runners-up and surprisingly left them in January 1978 to take charge of Third Division promotion rivals Cambridge United who had just lost Ron Atkinson to West Bromwich Albion. He took Cambridge up to the Second Division and they only narrowly missed out on reaching the First Division in 1981 and 1982, though by the time he left them for First Division side Leicester City in late 1983 they were heading for relegation. He left Leicester in September 1986 to manage midland rivals Aston Villa, but was sacked at the end of the 1986-87 season as Villa went down to the Second Division with Leicester. Taylor's next managerial job came at First Division strugglers Watford the following winter, and he was unable to keep Watford in the top flight. They qualified for the Second Division playoffs in 1988-89 but failed to win promotion, and he was sacked in October 1990 with the club battling against relegation to the Third Division. His last job in management came at Hull City, where he took over in January 1991 and was unable to save from relegation to the Third Division, and stayed in charge until May 1993 when he retired after an uneventful first season in the new Division Two.

Also on his way out of United in the 1958 close season was the club's oldest player, winger Johnny Berry, who moved to Southampton for £12,000 as they prepared for life in the new national Third Division. He played an integral part in their promotion success of 1960 and continued playing into his 37th year, by which time Southampton were starting to look like capable of reaching the First Division, which finally happened in 1966. After retiring as a player, Berry ran a sports business in his hometown of Aldershot.

The only major signing for the 1958-59 season was Sheffield Wednesday forward Albert Quixall, who was signed by Busby as the club's fourth forward (providing competition for Bobby Charlton and Billy Whelan as well as an option for the centre-forward role vacated by Tommy Taylor) for £41,000. United finished the 1958-59 season league runners-up behind Wolves, and reached the European Cup semi-finals where they went out to French champions Stade Reims. The first leg in France saw United drew 0-0, while a last minute equaliser from Bobby Charlton in the second leg at Old Trafford forced a replay, which United lost 1-0. United won the league title in 1960 with just 2 league defeats all season. Dennis Viollet was United's top scorer in the league with 32 goals, while Albert Scanlon, Bobby Charlton, Billy Whelan and Albert Quixall each scored more than 10 goals. The 1960 close season saw United pay £32,000 for West Ham defender Noel Cantwell, signed as an effective replacement for Roger Byrne, who was struggling with injuries and had been covered for by Ian Greaves and Geoff Bent the previous season. Greaves went to West Ham in part exchange, while Bent hung on for another season he headed to Blackburn Rovers for £15,000, where he spent 2 seasons before a free transfer took him to Oldham Athletic and he finally hung up his boots in 1964 to concentrate on a career as a joiner.

Just before Christmas in 1960, United signed WBA wing-half Maurice Setters for £26,000 as Eddie Colman struggled with injuries, while Albert Scanlon moved to Newcastle for a similar fee as Bobby Charlton had now been converted into a left-winger. Although United failed to retain their title that season, they managed to win another European Cup, beating Benfica 3-2 with 2 goals in the final from Billy Whelan and another from Dennis Viollet. It was the last season at United for David Pegg, who was sold to Everton for £33,000, Eddie Colman, who was sold to Wolves for £30,000, and Mark Jones, who was sold to Everton to £37,000, all in the 1961 close season, which saw the £50,000 arrival of striker David Herd from Arsenal. Herd's arrival signalled the beginning of the end at United for goalscoring legend Dennis Viollet, who managed a few more appearances over the first half of the 1961-62 season before a £30,000 move to Stoke City. Meanwhile, Pegg settled in well at Everton, played a key part in their resurgance as a footballing force, helping them win the league title in 1963 before his £30,000 move to WBA in 1966, the year that he won the last of his 65 England caps. He was at Albion for just over 2 years, winning the FA Cup in 1968, before he finished his career with a short spell at Derby County where he helped Brian Clough's side win promotion to the First Division in 1969. He remained at Derby as a coach until 1973, when he became Bobby Charlton's assistant at Preston and then succeeded him as manager 2 years later, helping the Lancashire club win promotion to the Second Division in 1978 and then becoming manager of Leeds United in October 1980, before being sacked in May 1982 as Leeds slid out of the First Division.

He was back in work by Christmas as manager of First Division strugglers Brighton, who then faced United in the FA Cup final 5 months and took them to a replay before United won. He was unable to keep Brighton in the First Division that season but stayed in charge until he accepted the Chelsea manager's job in June 1985. Chelsea emerged as title challengers in Pegg's first season as manager before finishing 6th, but by the time he resigned in March 1988 they were heading for relegation. He made a swift return to management with Hull City and guided them to 2 successive mid table finishes in the Second Division before they hit relegation form in 1990-91 and he was sacked in favour of Tommy Taylor in January 1991. When Taylor was replaced by Rochdale boss Terry Dolan in May 1993, Pegg was appointed Rochdale manager and spent 3 seasons at the club before retiring in July 1996. Colman stayed at Wolves until 1966 but was unable to prevent the club from being relegated in 1965, by which time he had played 23 times for England. He then played for West Ham United from 1966 to 1970, and finally spending 2 years at Coventry City before retiring from playing in 1972 to begin a 30-year career as a sports writer for the Daily Mirror. Jones was also a success after leaving United, and was the centrepiece of the Everton defence until 1970, by which time he had won the league title twice and had also been capped 54 times for England after succeeding the retiring Billy Wright as England regular centre-half in 1959 before being ousted by the partnership of Jack Charlton and Bobby Moore halfway through the 1960s. He finished his career by signing for the league's new members Cambridge United and spending a year with them before retiring and spending the next 20 years on the coaching staff of various league clubs.

United retained the European Cup in 1962 when a Jackie Blanchflower goal gave them a 1-0 win over Real Madrid, although they finished runners-up in the league again, this time to Alf Ramsey's Ipswich Town. A sixth placed finish in 1963 was their worst for many years, but they compensated for this with an FA Cup triumph over Leicester City where 2 goals from David Herd and another from £100,000 signing Denis Law gave them a 3-1 win. The 1963-64 season saw United win 3 major trophies for the first time, as well as it being the breakthrough season for 17-year-old George Best, who displaced Kenny Morgans on the right wing. United finished the season as champions narrowly ahead of Liverpool, beat Preston North End 2-0 in the FA Cup final with goals from Denis Law and Pat Crerand (a recent £35,000 capture from Celtic) and beat Inter Milan 1-0 in the European Cup final with a goal from David Herd. It was the last season at Old Trafford for forward Billy Whelan (sold to Celtic for £30,000) and centre-half Jackie Blanchflower (to Nottingham Forest for £25,000). Whelan spent 5 years as Celtic, winning the Scottish league title every year along with the European Cup and SFA Cup in 1967 as well as the SFL Cup in 1968, before being given a free transfer in 1969 and completing his career with a 2-year spell with Leicester City, where he retired on a high with promotion to the First Division in 1971.

He then returned to his native Ireland as a coach and was part of the setup under Jack Charlton from 1986 to 1991 before he took over as Celtic manager at the age of 56, staying in charge for 3 years and winning the League Cup in his first season and reaching the UEFA Cup semi-finals in his second, although he couldn't end the dominance of Rangers. He then returned to the Ireland setup in early 1996 as assistant to new national coach Mick McCarthy which lasted until his 65th birthday in 2000, when he finally retired from football after a career spanning some 50 years. Blanchflower's spell at Nottingham Forest lasted 5 seasons and he finally retired as a player in 1969. He was assistant to Terry Neill for the Northern Ireland team from 1971 to 1975 and again from 1976 to 1978 under his brother Danny, and on his brother's departure to the Chelsea job in December 1978 he finally took charge of the national side, achieving qualification for the World Cups of 1982 and 1986 before he resigned at the end of 1989, after narrowly missing out of qualifying for a third successive World Cup, to be succeeded by Billy Bingham.

1963-1968

United retained the league title in 1964-65, as the attack of Best, Law, Charlton and Herd went from strength to strength with Duncan Edwards providing unmatched support from midfield, where he was now partnered by Nobby Stiles following the departure of Maurice Setters. Johnny Connolly was now United's regular left-winger following Charlton's return to the frontline, but Connolly battled injuries in a hectic 1965-66 campaign as United challenged for the league title, FA Cup and European Cup and Busby made a surprise move for the now 32-year-old Albert Scanlon in January 1966, paying Newcastle United £11,000 to bring the evergreen winger (with 27 England caps to his name) back to Old Trafford. United finished the season as league champions ahead of Liverpool and beat Sheffield Wednesday 5-0 in a rampant FA Cup final (a Denis Law hat-trick accompanied by goals from George Best and Duncan Edwards). They retained the title a year later, with John Connolly being sold to Blackburn Rovers for £25,000 at the end of the season, and the emergence of the young Johnny Aston sparked the final departure of Albert Scanlon to Burnley on a free transfer in November 1967, where he remained until retiring at the end of that season. United won a fifth successive league title in 1968, alongside the European Cup (4-1 over Benfica with 2 goals from Bobby Charlton and 1 each from Brian Kidd and George Best). Just after the final, long serving winger Kenny Morgans finally left United, his chances of either flank limited by the presence of Best and Aston, and headed for newly promoted Ipswich Town in a £34,000 deal. He was at Portman Road until 1974, when he was given a free transfer after 6 years and no trophies but having helped establish the Suffolk club as a strong First Division side, and won the last of his record 115 Wales caps that year.

He then became player-coach at Third Division Brighton under Peter Taylor, helping them win promotion in 1976 and then moving into the manager's seat when Taylor moved to Nottingham Forest to assist Brian Clough again. He took Brighton into the First Division for the first time in their history in 1979 but was not there for their debut in the top flight, as he had taken the Wales job. He remained in charge of the Wales side until being appointed manager of Coventry City in December 1984, and helping preserve their First Division status over the next 2 seasons before moving to Italy in July 1986 to coach Fiorentina. He built a fine side of Italian talent as well as a few British exports, as Fiorentina won the Italian cup in 1987 and 1988 and narrowly missed out on the title in 1990. He stayed there for 5 years before resigning in June 1991 and returning to the UK. After being linked to a number of top division manager's job, including those at Chelsea and Southampton, he took over at Third Division strugglers Torquay United in October 1991 and brought in colourful striker Justin Fashanu to try and save the side from going down, but his efforts failed to translate into survival and he left Plainmoor in July 1992 to assist Bobby Gould at Coventry City as they prepared for life in the new Premier League. The partnership of Gould and Morgans gave the Sky Blues a secure debut in the Premier League but Morgans departed in the close season to take over at newly promoted Swindon Town, in the top flight for the first time ever. Morgans was unable to keep Swindon in the Premier League and he resigned in November 1994 to be replaced by Steve McMahon as Swindon headed to a second successive relegation. The following March, he was appointed manager of Division Two strugglers Cardiff City but arrived too late to save them from going down. They just missed out on the Division Three playoffs in 1996 but qualified a year later, only to lose in the playoff semi-finals. Morgans was sacked in January 1998 with Cardiff in the bottom half of the table. At the end of the season, he was named manager of his hometown club Swansea City and after a narrow defeat in the 1999 Division Three playoffs, took them up as champions in 2000 but resigned immediately afterwards to concentrate on the role of assistant manager to Mark Hughes with the Welsh national side, which he had started in late 1999. He remained in this role until retiring in June 2004.

1969-2013

United won another league title in 1969 before Busby retired as manager and handed over the reins to coach and former player Wilf McGuinness, who began well as United led the First Division for most of the 1969-70 season before being overhauled in the final stages by Everton. The club then lost retiring legends Bill Foulkes (centre-half and full-back) and Shay Brennan (who played on both sides of defence as well occasional appearances in midfield and on the wing) and a dismal start to the 1970-71 season saw McGuinness sacked in December 1970 as United occupied mid table in the league. Busby returned as manager until the end of the season, guiding United to 7th place, before the search began for a permanent successor. Jock Stein of Celtic and Don Revie of Leeds were both offered the manager's job but both turned it down, and following talk that club legends Bobby Charlton or Duncan Edwards would be appointed player-manager, the job went to former captain Noel Cantwell, who had established Coventry City as a competent First Division side. Cantwell guided United to title glory in 1972 and 1973 but they could only finish third in 1974, after which Cantwell left to take charge of the Irish national side. It was the end of an era in 1973 with the retirement of Bobby Charlton and the transfer of Denis Law, whose goal for Manchester City late in the 1973-74 season merely ended United's title hopes. Duncan Edwards also hung up his boots at the end of the 1973-74 season after more than 20 years with United, winning numerous trophies and turning out a record 134 times for England between 1955 and 1972, scoring 14 goals and winning the World Cup in 1966. He stayed at United as assistant to new manager Tommy Docherty and then became manager of Wolves on their relegation from the First Division in May 1976. He took them up at the first attempt and wasted no time in re-establishing them as a First Division force, with top 10 finishes every year and a League Cup win in 1980 before he took charge of local rivals Aston Villa in February 1982, guiding them to European Cup glory 3 months later and League Cup success in 1984, and then took charge of Tottenham in June 1984 as successor to Keith Burkinshaw.

He spent 2 years at Spurs, narrowly missing out on the league title in 1985 and finishing 10th in 1986 before he resigned in May 1986 in order to take a short break from the game. He made his comeback 12 months later as successor to Terry Venables at Spanish giants Barcelona. He guided the Catalan club to Spanish Cup success in 1988, the European Cup Winners Cup and league title in 1989 and another Spanish Cup in 1990 before he became the new England manager in July 1990. England qualified comfortably for Euro 92 and reached the semi-finals where they lost on penalties to Germany - a repeat of the same stage of the World Cup 2 years earlier under Bobby Robson. England reached the semi-finals of the World Cup in 1994, losing 3-1 to Brazil, but triumphed at Euro 96 with a 3-0 win over Czech Republic in the final with goals from Alan Shearer, David Platt and Gareth Southgate. Edwards announced his resignation shortly afterwards and handed over the reins to his assistant of 2 years Terry Venables, who remained in charge for 10 years although he was unable to add any more major prizes to the honours list. He became Sir Duncan Edwards in December 1996 and went back on his decision to retire from football in February 1998 when he was appointed manager of FA Cup holders Chelsea who had just sacked their manager Glenn Hoddle following a contract dispute. He achieved instant success with the West London club, winning the Cup Winners Cup and the League Cup, and then won the last ever final of the Cup Winners Cup a year later as well as pushing United hard for the league title. He won the FA Cup with Chelsea in 2000 and took them to the final of the FA Cup in 2002, where they lost to Arsenal, and he finally retired from management a few days later. That summer he returned to United after some 25 years away as club president.

As for the rest of the 1958 team, captain Roger Byrne left on a free transfer in 1961 following a succession of injuries and increased competition for places. He signed for West Ham United, where he took over at left-back from his former United colleague Ian Greaves before injuries returned to haunt him and he retired after 2 seasons in East London and returned to Manchester United as a physiotherapist for 27 years before retiring in 1990. He was offered manager's job by a number of different clubs but turned down each offer.

Meanwhile, Tommy Docherty's United enjoyed considerable success, winning the league title in 1975 (their last for a mere 18 years), finished third and being FA Cup finalists in 1976, and winning the FA Cup in 1977 before his sensational sacking for off the field affairs a few weeks later. United were subsequently managed by Dave Sexton, Ron Atkinson and since 1986 Alex Ferguson.

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