Birth of the Babes
in the 1950s of talented footballers such as Duncan Edwards and Bobby
Charlton was a result of the first truly comprehensive scouting and
coaching operation English football had known. As a player Matt Busby
had learned through bitter experience of the 'sink or swim' approach
that prevailed at most football clubs and realised that the harnessing
of the full talents of footballers required a more involved approach.
If a player had a gambling or drinking problem for instance, this would
affect his performance on a Saturday and would therefore become the
club's problem. With this in mind he set out in management with the
idea that footballers were not there just to play football.
To this end
they had begun a junior section (MUJACS) before the war and spread their
net in search of talent in the north-west. This approach was widened
by Busby in the post-war years so that the most talented youngsters
from all corners of the British Isles were gathered together to form
what nowadays would be classed a 'school of excellence'. Yet the emergence
of the Busby Babes was a social as much as a sporting phenmonenon. Not
only did these young players receive expert football training but they
were treated as part of a family, to them Manchester United became a
'home away from home'.
In The Birth of the Babes, current Manchester United Academy coach Tony Whelan examines not only the roots of Matt Busby's socialism, his approach to the care of his players, but illustrates the system of scouts, coaches and trainers that made Manchester United a prototype for the youth systems of today. Beautifully illustrated with photographs and memorablia culled from the private collections of many of the youth players of the time, The Birth of the Babes is essential reading for anyone interested in the pre-Munich era when United took English football by storm.
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