1945/46 - Manchester United | Manchester United News
1945/46 – Manchester United

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Manchester United Programme 1945/46

The 1945–46 season was Manchester United’s seventh and last season in the non-competitive War League during the Second World War.

On 15 February 1945, United manager Walter Crickmer had resigned. During the Second World War, Sir Matt Busby served as a football coach in the Army Physical Training Corps, and the experience resulted in Liverpool offering him the job of assistant to their then-manager George Kay. However, the experience also forged Busby’s opinions about how football should be played and governed, and when it became clear that they differed from those of the Liverpool board, their chairman Billy McConnell allowed Busby to pursue alternate employment.

After Manchester United had tried to sign Busby from Manchester City in 1930, he became good friends with United’s fixer, Louis Rocca; their relationship was helped in part by the fact that both were members of the Manchester Catholic Sportsman’s Club. United were in desperate need of a manager to take over from club secretary Walter Crickmer after the war and a board meeting was called in December 1944 so as to ascertain who that new manager might be. Knowing that Liverpool had already offered Busby a job, Rocca convinced the United board to “leave it to [him]” and immediately wrote a letter to Busby, addressed to his army regiment. The letter was vague, referring only to “a job”, just in case it fell into the wrong hands, namely the Liverpool officials.

In February 1945, still in uniform, Busby turned up at Cornbrook Cold Storage, one of the United chairman James W. Gibson’s businesses at Trafford Park to discuss the contents of Rocca’s letter with the chairman. Busby requested that he be directly involved in training, pick the team on matchdays and even choose the players to be bought and sold without interference from the club directors, who, he believed, did not know the game as well as he did. Such a level of control over the team was unprecedented in the English game, but the United chairman was in no position to argue. Busby was originally offered a three-year contract, but managed to secure himself a five-year deal after explaining that it would take at least that long for his revolution to have a tangible effect.

The contract was signed that day – 19 February 1945 – but it was not until 1 October that Busby officially took over the reins at Manchester United. In the interim, he returned to the Army Physical Training Corps, whose football team he took to Bari, Italy, in the spring of 1945. There, he took in a training session for a football team made up of non-commissioned officers led by West Bromwich Albion’s former half-back Jimmy Murphy. Impressed by the Welshman’s oratory skills, Busby engaged him in conversation and offered him the job of chief coach at Manchester United, which Murphy accepted verbally there and then, before joining the club officially in early 1946.

With the ending of the Second World War, the FA Cup returned, with Manchester United losing 2–3 on aggregate in the cup Fourth Round to Preston North End.

United's first post-war game in Europe

War League North Regional League

Date Opponents H / A ResultF – A Scorers Attendance
25 August 1945 Huddersfield Town A 2 – 3 Smith (2)
1 September 1945 Huddersfield Town H 2 – 3 Koffman, Rowley
8 September 1945 Chesterfield H 0 – 2
12 September 1945 Middlesbrough A 1 – 2 Davie
15 September 1945 Chesterfield A 1 – 1 Bryant
20 September 1945 Stoke City A 2 – 1 Hullett, Reid
22 September 1945 Barnsley A 2 – 2 Cockburn, Hullett
29 September 1945 Barnsley H 1 – 1 Smith
6 October 1945 Everton H 0 – 0
13 October 1945 Everton A 0 – 3
20 October 1945 Bolton Wanderers A 1 – 1 Wrigglesworth
27 October 1945 Bolton Wanderers H 2 – 1 Carey, Worrall
3 November 1945 Preston North End H 6 – 1 Rowley (2), Smith, Warner,Worrall
10 November 1945 Preston North End A 2 – 2 Bainbridge, Smith
17 November 1945 Leeds United A 3 – 3 Hanlon (2), Buckle
24 November 1945 Leeds United H 6 – 1 Buckle (2), Wrigglesworth(2), Hanlon, Rowley
1 December 1945 Burnley H 3 – 3 Hullett (3)
8 December 1945 Burnley A 2 – 2 Hanlon, Smith
15 December 1945 Sunderland H 2 – 1 Smith (2)
22 December 1945 Sunderland A 2 – 4 Smith, Wrigglesworth
25 December 1945 Sheffield United A 0 – 1
26 December 1945 Sheffield United H 2 – 3 Carey, Hullett
29 December 1945 Middlesbrough H 4 – 1 Rowley (2), Smith (2)
12 January 1946 Grimsby Town H 5 – 0 Rowley (3), Bainbridge,Smith
19 January 1946 Grimsby Town A 0 – 1
2 February 1946 Blackpool H 4 – 2 Rowley (2), Bainbridge,Wrigglesworth
9 February 1946 Liverpool H 2 – 1 Smith (2)
16 February 1946 Liverpool A 5 – 0 Hanlon (2), Rowley (2),Wrigglesworth
23 February 1946 Bury A 1 – 1 Hanlon
2 March 1946 Bury H 1 – 1 Hanlon
9 March 1946 Blackburn Rovers H 6 – 2 Rowley (3), Hanlon (2),Delaney
16 March 1946 Blackburn Rovers A 3 – 1 Smith (2), Pearson
23 March 1946 Bradford A 1 – 2 Carey
27 March 1946 Blackpool A 5 – 1 Pearson (3), Carey,Wrigglesworth
30 March 1946 Bradford H 4 – 0 Aston, Delaney, Rowley,Wrigglesworth
6 April 1946 Manchester City H 1 – 4 Aston
13 April 1946 Manchester City A 3 – 1 Hanlon, Pearson, Rowley
19 April 1946 Newcastle United A 1 – 0 Pearson
20 April 1946 Sheffield Wednesday H 4 – 0 Pearson (2), Delaney,Rowley
22 April 1946 Newcastle United H 4 – 1 Delaney, Mitten, Rowley,Wrigglesworth
27 April 1946 Sheffield Wednesday H 0 – 1
4 May 1946 Stoke City H 2 – 1 Buckle, Pearson
Pos Club Pld W D L GF GA Pts
3 Bolton Wanderers 42 20 11 11 67 45 51
4 Manchester United 42 19 11 12 98 62 49
5 Sheffield Wednesday 42 20 8 14 67 60 48

Pld = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; GF = Goals for; GA = Goals against; Pts = Points

FA Cup

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Date Round Opponents H / A ResultF – A Scorers Attendance
5 January 1946 Round 3First leg Accrington Stanley A 2 – 2 Smith, Wrigglesworth 9,968
9 January 1946 Round 3Second leg Accrington Stanley H 5 – 1 Rowley (2), Bainbridge, Wrigglesworth, own goal 15,339
26 January 1946 Round 4First leg Preston North End H 1 – 0 Hanlon 36,237
30 January 1946 Round 4Second leg Preston North End A 1 – 3 Hanlon 21,000
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