Ferguson pays tribute to United's fallen heroes

February 6, 2008

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson insists his constant quest at Old Trafford is to create a team to match the courage and class of the `Busby Babes' side of the 1950s.

Eight of that great team lost their lives following the Munich air disaster 50 years ago today, with the club commemorating all those who died in the plane crash with a service at Old Trafford this afternoon.

Sir Matt Busby's team was built on youth and a determination to entertain, and Ferguson is adamant the same principles are still just as relevant to his current squad.

'We rely on history. It repeats itself. The way Sir Matt built that team, we're trying to repeat it,' he said.

'We want young players who were brought up at this club the right way, and to understand what playing for this football club is. And the younger you get them, the better it is.'

Ferguson hailed the achievement of Busby, who was twice read the last rites and kept in intensive care following the crash, in rebuilding the team and leading them to European Cup glory just over 10 years later in 1968.

He told MUTV: 'The hardest thing in management anyway is to manage change. When it's forced upon you in these circumstances, you have to start from complete scratch.

'But he had faith in young people, so it meant that younger players were brought into the line-up much quicker than they would have been.

'He made a couple of shrewd buys, Albert Quixall (from Sheffield Wednesday) and Maurice Setters (from West Brom), but it wouldn't have been easy.

'By the time they got to 1963 and they beat Leicester in that (FA Cup) final, you could see the threads starting to come together. After that, it just snowballed really, young players started coming through in their droves again.

'By the time he got to the (European Cup) final in 1968, I think there were only two players in the team that he had bought. The rest had come through the club which is a fantastic achievement, in 10 years.

'I've been here 21 years and only won it once.'

Ferguson also recalled his personal memories of Busby after he joined United in November 1986.

'The great support that Matt gave me was without question.

'He said `any time you want a wee chat come and see me'. When I used to work from the office at Old Trafford, you would know he was there because you could smell his pipe when he'd come in the door.

'At that time he was coming to his last years in his life and he just wanted a bit of peace. He was satisfied with what he had done in his life.

'We took him to a quarter-final against Sheffield United and he loved it, he loved the banter between me and Archie Knox and Norman Davies and Jim McGregor. He was laughing all night at the carrying-ons we had.

'He went into the lounge afterwards and had a brandy and his pipe. And he said to me `this is all I need'. He really did appreciate it.'

Asked to quantify the importance of today's plans to mark the 50th anniversary of the disaster, he added: 'It is important, without question, because it is something worth remembering. Because the origins of this football club, as it is today, goes back to that time.'