Man City 3 Man United 4
Manchester City 3 Manchester United 4, Maine Road, English Football League First Division, May 5, 1971. Sir Matt Busby took charge of Manchester United for the final time as his team edged out Manchester City by 4-3 at Maine Road. Also in this match, defender Tommy O’Neill made his First Division debut for United, while midfielder Paddy Crerand made his last appearance wearing the famous red shirt.
Manchester United had succumbed to an embarrassing and heavy 4-1 defeat against Manchester City at their Old Trafford home in the reverse meeting of the 1970-71 season, and Matt Busby´s men were looking for revenge against The Light Blues. The Manchester Reds opened in style in front of an attendance of more than 43,000 spectators and the visitors were three up at the half-time break. Former Three Lions player Bobby Charlton opened the scoring account for Manchester United on fifteen minutes before Scotland international Denis Law produced a second goal for The Reds on the half-hour mark. The Old Traffordians kept on pushing forward and Northern Ireland favourite Georgie Best added a third just a minute later to make the half-time score 3-0 to the visiting outfit. Joe Mercer´s Manchester City hit back following the resumption thanks to a goal from veteran striker Freddie Hill in the 46th minute of the encounter, only for the always dangerous Best to score Manchester United´s fourth goal of the afternoon when he beat Maine Road goalkeeper Ron Healy with brilliant header after 75 minutes of fierce action. Then, during the closing stages, Francis Lee and Ian Mellor eventually netted a goal each for The Citizens in the 80th and 82nd minutes respectively to make the final score read 4-3 in the favour of United. And as it turned out, Manchester United finished the Football League campaign in eighth position, while old adversaries Manchester City ended three places below them.
Born in the small mining village of Orbiston in May 1909, Matt Busby grew up idolising players such as Hughie Gallacher and Alex James. Although Busby took over the managerial reigns at Manchester United in October 1945, his contract had been signed the previous February. And from the very moment the demobilised company sergeant major arrived at Old Trafford, things would never be the same again as he instantly put his mark on the Manchester club. A complex and determined character with a strong work ethic, Busby demanded powers over the hiring of personnel and the buying and selling of players immediately after his appointment as manager of Manchester United. And although there was more Scottish than Socialism in his Scottish Socialism, the ex-Manchester City and Liverpool forward managed to transform the club completely and during his first three years in charge The Reds finished First Division runners-up three times in a row as well as winning the coveted FA Cup in April 1948 when they beat Blackpool 4-2 in the final. Busby was the manager at Manchester United from 1945 to 1969, taking the sleeping giant of European football to both League and Cup honours during his long and illustrious career. After winning the First Division Championship in 1952, 1956 and 1957, his immensely talented United side were tragically destroyed when their airplane crashed on its third attempt to take off from a slush covered runway at the Munich Airport in February 1958.
The now legendary head coach continued his search for glory and he will always be remembered for the European Cup Final in May 1968 when his beloved Manchester United went on to defeat Portuguese Champions Benfica by 4-1. The memorable triumph at Wembley Stadium was fully recognised as the successful manager was deservedly knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List shortly after the final and when he died on the 20th of January 1994, a vast amount of dedicated and loyal Manchester United supporters turned out to pay their last respects to the former manager and two years later the club unveiled a bronze statue at the Scoreboard End in honour of the great man who was simply known as Mr. Manchester United. Sir Matt Busby´s managerial career had its ups and downs, however, and The Munich Airport Disaster of 1958 no doubt took its toll for the rest of his days. But as destiny would have it, Manchester United defeated neighbours and rivals Manchester City at Maine Road to the merry tune of a 4-3 score on the final day of 1970-71 campaign to salute his last game in charge. Manchester City Team: Ron Healey, Tony Book, Dave Connor, Tony Towers, George Heslop, Willie Donachie, Steve Carter, Ian Mellor, Francis Lee, Neil Young, Freddie Hill. Substitutes: None. Manchester United Team: Alex Stepney, Tommy O’Neil, Francis Burns, Paddy Crerand, Steve James, David Sadler, Denis Law, Alan Gowling, Bobby Charlton, Brian Kidd, Georgie Best. Substitutes: None.
Paddy Crerand Quickfacts
Hailing from Glasgow, Paddy Crerand signed his first professional contract with Celtic in the summer of 1957 and was handed his Scottish Football League debut by Jimmy McGrory in a comfortable 3-1 win over Queen of the South at Parkhead on the 4th of October 1958. After appearing in 91 Scottish Football League games for The Bhoys, the midfield combatant was sold to Matt Busby´s Manchester United for a transfer fee of £56,000 midway through the 1962-63 season and was given his first taste of English First Division football in a 1-1 draw with Blackpool in front of a 43,000 crowd at Old Trafford on the 22nd of February 1963. While with Manchester United, Crerand amassed 397 appearances in all competitions for the club and won the First Division Championship in 1964-65 and 1966-67, the FA Cup in 1963, and the European Cup in 1968.