Leeds To Soccer Success At Manchester United
Leeds To Soccer Success At Manchester United
In 1953 Bobby Charlton was a young left winger with a powerful strike in his left foot that kept him in the Manchester United team when he got his chance to play there. By 1968 he was a holder of the Ballon D`Or, and the title European Footballer Of The Year for winning the World Cup with England in 1966. Bobby would play as the left footed deep lying centre forward and midfield inspiration that would win the European Cup in May 1968 for Manchester United against Lisbon club, Benfica of Portugal, at the national Wembley stadium, London, 4-1. A rare headed goal from Charlton himself came after half-time on 53 minutes, but on 75 minutes Benfica`s inside right, Jose Torres, pushed the ball wide right in midfield and raced on into the United penalty area to rise above the defenders and head the subsequent cross from wide down towards the right post where midfielder, Jaime Graca, ran in to strike the ball with his right foot into the bottom left corner of the United goal past `keeper Stepney, who dived to his right, but too late:
`.... [Benfica] very nearly won the match when their feared striker Eusebio broke away from Nobby Stiles, the player tasked with marking him, and blasted the ball towards the net. But it was saved by keeper Alex Stepney and the game went into extra time.`1
In extra time superstar genius, left winger George Best, caught onto his feet a ball headed on from Brian Kidd after a long punt upfield from United `keeper, Alex Stepney. Beating two Benfica defenders in his inimitable mazey style of running with the ball, George Best went around the Benfica `keeper on 92 minutes to sidefoot the ball gently into the net with his favoured left. A third headed goal from teenage striker Brian Kidd, in the side as a replacement for injured goal `King` Denis Law, came on 94 minutes after the Benfica goalkeeper parried his first header rather than catching it. Brian Kidd headed it back and over him. It was Kidd again, wide on the right and teasing Benfica`s left back, Fernando Cruz, into making a challenge Kidd avoided. Running down the right wing, Kidd cut into the Benfica area close to the by line. Brian crossed the ball to where Bobby Charlton was making for the right corner of the penalty box. With his right foot, Bobby lofted the ball up and over into the Benfica net for United`s fourth and final winning goal in the 99th minute.
A newspaper interview with Benfica`s Brazilian manager, Otto Gloria, would inflame passions as Estudiantes De La Plata would defeat Manchester United in the Intercontinental Cup Final in Buenos Aires, traditionally played between the South American champions, winners of the Copa De Libertadores, and the champions of Europe. Otto Gloria labelled United defender Nobby Stiles, `an assassin`, and in scenes of intimidatory violence over the two legs of the Final, Nobby Stiles, in the 79th minute of the first leg, and George Best in the 88th minute of the second leg, were each sent off as Manchester United lost 2-1 on aggregate, mainly thanks to the right wing skills of Juan Ramon Veron, `the little witch` of Estudiantes De La Plata, who provided the corner for the goal for striker, Marcos Conigliaro, in the Buenos Aires encounter in the 28th minute with a header. Juan Ramon Veron himself scored the vital 7th minute headed goal in the away leg at Old Trafford`s `Theatre Of Dreams` stadium in Manchester before Scots` winger, Willie Morgan, finally replied for the `red devils` in the 89th minute.
Manchester United`s rivals in English and European soccer were Leeds United. Jack Charlton, brother of Bobby and England centre half in the World Cup win over Germany in 1966, when West Ham striker, Geoff Hurst, had scored a hat-trick in a 4-2 victory, was at Leeds United. When manager Matt Busby transferred young inside forward, Johnny Giles, to Second Division Leeds United at the beginning of the 1963-64 season, John Giles and Manchester United had just won the F.A. Cup beating Leicester City, 3-1. John Giles had been at Manchester United since 1957 and it was a mistake to let him go. As the midfield general at Leeds, alongside Scots` tiger, captain Billy Bremner, Leeds United would come out of the Second Division in 1964 as champions of England`s second tier and be a thorn in the side of Manchester United`s ambitions right up until the white shirts pipped the `reds` of Manchester for the league title of 1991-92.
Paddy Crerand, Manchester United`s Scottish central midfield playmaker, who`d only arrived from Celtic to make his debut on February 6, 1963, was already perceived as such a reliable passer and tackler that Manchester United manager, Matt Busby, felt he could let John Giles leave for Leeds. In the 25th May F.A. Cup Final, just three months after his transfer, the influential Crerand was quickest to the ball after Leicester `keeper Gordon Banks` poor kick out of his goal area failed to get enough distance. Paddy raced through into the right of the Leicester area before measuring a pass with the outside of his right boot along the Wembley turf for Denis Law to trap the ball left footed with his back to goal and turn in the 30th minute, striking right footed low into the left corner of the Leicester goal. After half-time, Bobby Charlton, wide on the left of the Leicester area, struck at the Leicester goal with his powerful left foot, and although the Leicester `keeper blocked the shot, David Herd was there to tap the ball into the net with his right foot on 57 minutes. David Herd got United`s third goal when Leicester `s World Cup winning `keeper, Gordon Banks, inexplicably made a decision to bounce the ball instantly upon collecting a cross from United`s right winger, Johnny Giles, and David Herd pounced to stab it right footed into the City goal in the 85th minute.
Although the Manchester United players would go on to title success in 1964-65 and 1966-67, before their European Cup win of 1968, Leeds United would be the more successful club until manager Alex Ferguson`s decision at the beginning of the 1992-93 season to bring to Old Trafford, Eric Cantona, a French deep lying centre forward in the traditional Manchester United style, which Bobby Charlton (1956-73) epitomized throughout his career. Eric Cantona had been the difference between the two clubs the previous season when Leeds United had won the title. Playing only 15 games for 3 goals but prized by striker, Lee Chapman, for the `assists`, which left Chapman Leeds` top scorer with 16 goals, Alex Ferguson amazedly paid just 1, 200, 000 GBP to get Eric Cantona to sign for Manchester United for the 1992-93 league title campaign. Before retiring at only 31 years of age in 1997 with that season`s championship winners` medal in his pocket, Eric subsequently led Manchester United to two `double` triumphs in 1994 and 1996, when the team won the title and the F.A. Cup against Chelsea, 4-0. In that encounter Eric Cantona had scored two penalties in the 60th and 66th minute to kill the game. Liverpool were beaten 1-0 in 1996 when Eric Cantona scored the only goal of the game. With mimimum backlift he`d struck contemptuously to drive the ball into the net through a group of players when a chance providently offered inside the area in the 85th minute.
Denis Irwin, the Manchester United full back, who`d arrive in 1990 from Oldham Athletic to become the most decorated player after centre half, Bill Foulkes, who`d retired in 1973 with four titles in 1956, 1957, 1965, and 1967, had been at Leeds United (1983-86) and made 72 appearances in the Second Division before leaving on a free transfer for Oldham where he helped the club to the Final of the League Cup in 1990 against Nottingham Forest, 0-1, but it was the semi-final of the F.A. Cup that drew Manchester United`s attention to Denis Irwin. After a 3-3 draw United won the replay 2-1 and went on to win the F.A. Cup after a 3-3 draw and replay, which the team won 1-0 thanks to a 59th minute strike from left full back, Lee Martin, who ran the length of the pitch from his full back position to crash the ball into the left top corner of the Crystal Palace net upon receiving a pass from Neil Webb he chested down and could do nothing else with except score.
Denis Irwin was transferred to Old Trafford from Oldham for a transfer fee of 625, 000 GBP and went on to win 7 championship winners` medals in 1992-93, 1993-94, 1995-96, 1996-97, 1998-99, 1999-2000, and 2000-01. Denis won F.A. Cup Final winners` medals in 1994, 1996, and 1999 to make up for defeat by Manchester United in the semi-final of the 1990 F.A. Cup competition when he was at Oldham Athletic and a League Cup Final winners` medal in 1992 to make up for Oldham`s defeat to a single goal from young Nottingham Forest centre forward, Nigel Jemson, in the Final of 1990. Success in European competitions came with victory in the European Cup Winners` Cup FInal of 1990, the Super Cup in 1991, and the European Cup in 1999, which was followed by a win in the traditional Final of the Intercontinental Cup on the world stage of club football between South American Champions, Brazilian side Palmeiras, winners of the Copa De Libertadores, and Manchester United, European club champions. The `red devils` won 1-0 thanks to a goal by midfield dynamo and powerhouse, captain Roy Keane, which wiped out the painful memory of 1968`s defeat to Estudiantes De La Plata of Argentina.
The paths of Irwin and Cantona to United reversed the trend set by Giles. In 1978 Dave Sexton, United boss, had brought Gordon McQueen, centre back, and Joe Jordan, centre forward, from Leeds United for almost 1, 000, 000 GBP. The pair lost in the F.A. Cup Final to Arsenal, 2-3, with McQueen getting United`s first in the 86th minute during a two minute spell late on that saw the side pull back to 2-2 when Sammy McIlroy got a second in the 88th minute. McQueen had been injured and United had re-jigged with right full back, Jimmy Nicholl, going into McQueen`s position. Believing the injured Gordon couldn`t do any harm at centre forward, the big Scot surprised everyone by getting a goal, but he wasn`t there to prevent Alan Sunderland from getting his head to a left wing cross from Arsenal`s Graham Rix in the 89th minute to take the Cup to Highbury.
Gordon McQueen would go on to a winners` medal in 1983 against Brighton and Hove Albion, 4-0, before leaving in 1985 after failing to make new manager Ron Atkinson`s team against Everton in the F.A. Cup final, which United won in extra time, 1-0, in the 110th minute after a Norman Whiteside curled shot from outside the right of the Everton area found the inside of Neville Southall`s right post. United were down to 10 men after 78 minutes when Kevin Moran, centre back, partnered in defence by Paul McGrath, who had been preferred to McQueen, was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Manchester United had beaten Leeds United, who had themselves lost the European Cup FInal in 1975 to Bayern Munich, 2-0, with Johnny Giles and Joe Jordan in the side, in the semi-final of the F.A. Cup in 1977, 2-1, with a 7th minute goal from centre forward, Jimmy Greenhoff, and right winger, Steve Coppell in the 15th minute before Alan `sniffer` Clarke, the England centre forward, struck with a penalty to reduce United`s lead in the 70th minute. The F.A. Cup Final victory of 1977 against Liverpool was important for United, because they hadn`t won a trophy since 1968 and had been relegated to the Second Division themselves in 1973-74, before rising again to be promoted to the top tier of English football as Second Division champions of 1974-75, which Leeds United had done themselves in 1963-64 with the help of general Johnny Giles signed from Manchester United to aid them.
Manchester United`s European Cup win of 1968, after Johnny Giles` transfer to Leeds United and the Manchester club`s titles of 1964-65 and 1966-67, represent a team`s succeeding without a key player they`d allowed to escape them. After 1968 Manchester United`s successes were pale in comparison to John Giles` at Leeds United until 1992-93 and the first title to go to Old Trafford for twenty-six years. In domestic competitions, Leeds United won titles in 1968–69, 1973–74, and 1991–92. They won the F.A. Cup in 1972, the League Cup in 1968 and, in European competition, the UEFA Cup in 1968 and 1971.
Wilf McGuinness had been at Manchester United since he and Bobby Charlton were both 15 years of age. At wing half McGuinness had captained the F.A. Cup Youth FInal winning teams of 1953-57, and Wilf became manager at Manchester United after Sir Matt Busby, knighted for winning the European Cup, retired. Leeds United beat Manchester United in the F.A. Cup semi-final of 1970 in a second replay, 0-1, after the first two games had both ended in a 0-0 draw. Leeds United were known as a predominantly defensive passing side that stopped the other team from playing, while Manchester United had a reputation for being an unstoppably measured juggernaut that relied on ability and an indomitable will to succeed.
Manchester United`s will to triumph was built on a history of recovering from tragedy ever since the Munich aircrash of 6 February, 1958. The plane that crashed in the snow and ice of the German airport on take off had robbed the English game of a young team known as the `Busby Babes` that had won successive league titles in 1955-56 and 1956-57 and was capable of providing players to win England the World Cup of 1958 and the European Cup for Manchester United in that same year - and afterwards too.
With Bobby Charlton at outside left, the side had been returning from a quarter final victory over Red Star Belgrade of Yugoslavia to set up a European Cup semi-final against A.C. Milan, which they`d ultimately lose because of the disaster at Munich airport. Although Bobby Charlton survived to move infield and back to a deep lying centre forward berth, along with players like prolific scorer, Dennis Viollett, and left winger, Albert Scanlon, England lost the guile and strength of the boy who was a man, when others were still boys, midfield `giant` Duncan Edwards. Amongst those who also died were left winger, David Pegg, right winger Johnny Berry, inside forward David Coleman, centre half Mark Jones, centre forward Tommy Taylor, captain and left full back, Roger Byrne, full back, Geoff Bent, and Irishmen, inside forward, Jackie Blanchflower, and forward, Liam Whelan, who`d had their own hopes for the future.
Losing to Leeds United in the F.A. Cup semi-final of 1970 proved to be a disaster for Wilf McGuinness and his sacking as Manchester United manager underlined the ascendancy of Leeds United, which would overshadow events at Old Trafford until the league was finally won again with the transferred help of star forward, Eric Cantona, snapped up by then United manager, Alex Ferguson, from Leeds; like he`d gotten a pearl from a mussel shell. Leeds United took the league title from Manchester United by four points and owed much to drawing with the Old Trafford team during the season`s home and away encounters. But it was the away draw at Luton, 1-1, followed by consecutive defeats, which occurred in the period from 18-26 April, when Manchester United lost to Nottingham Forest, 1-2, West Ham, 0-1, and Liverpool. 0-2, that cost United the crown.
Leeds United`s Gordon Strachan, had been transferred from Aberdeen to Manchester United under the stewardship of Ron Atkinson and had won an F.A. Cup winners` medal against Everton in 1985, so hopes were high that Strachan would be a jewel in the crown at United for many seasons to come when his boss at Aberdeen arrived as manager to replace `Big Ron`. But Alex Ferguson sold Strachan to Leeds in a deal similar to the transfer of John Giles in 1963 when Leeds were in the Second Division. History repeated itself and Gordon became Leeds United`s captain in their promotion season of 1989-90 and, like John Giles before him, Strachan found himself winning the title in 1991-92 against his old team mates from Old Trafford`s `Theatre Of Dreams` when many felt he should have been in the Manchester United side winning the championship against Leeds.
Eric `the red` Cantona`s arrival at Manchester United changed the course of English football; as it`d been altered when John Giles was deemed surplus and transferred from Manchester United to Leeds in 1963 by Matt Busby. But Alex Ferguson was clever enough to redress the balance when Gordon Strachan, Leeds` title winning captain of 1991-92, came back to haunt him. Just as John Giles` performances in Leeds` all conquering midfield of the mid 1970s had haunted Sir Matt Busby`s retirement, Gordon Strachan`s resurgence at Leeds United threatened to dent Manchester United`s title ambitions and European Cup hopes. Bringing Eric Cantona, `le god`, to Manchester United, was the result of Alex Ferguson`s correct reading of the auguries, and four league titles (1993, 1994, 1996 and 1997) and two league and F.A. Cup `doubles` (1994, 1996) later, United were `history` again. When `Fergie`s Fledglings` came of age to fly on the young left and right wings of Welsh wizard, Ryan Giggs and England captain, David Beckham, to defeat Bayern Munich in the European Cup FInal of 1999, 2-1, with last gasp goals from substitute striking pair, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, in the 91st and 93rd minutes, Eric Cantona`s legacy was fulfilled and the ghosts of Bobby Charlton, George Best and Brian Kidd, `68`s heroes, were finally laid.