Former Manchester United manager Tommy Docherty, his ex-skipper Martin Buchan and former midfielder Sammy McIlroy have lifted the lid on the club’s infamous season in Division Two.
In ‘74/75’, a book released on 26th April, the trio have shared their thoughts on a year that some argue shaped the modern face of the biggest club in the world.
For McIlroy, the potential could have been far greater. United dazzled their supporters with a confidence that was reborn in their team after seeing them move to a 4-2-4 formation late in the season and the Northern Irishman is of the firm belief that he and his team-mates could have gone all the way to the top of the game. ‘You might laugh but Barcelona’s recent teams were so successful because as soon as they lost the ball they got it back,’ he shares in the book. ‘We were doing that in the 70’s under Tommy Doc and Tommy Cavanagh.We harried people, got in their faces, we’d toe- poke balls away, make them pass the ball as quickly as possible to create mistakes. Everyone talks about how fit the Barcelona team are but we were doing the same and the energy levels were unbelievable in our side.’
Martin Buchan echoes McIlroy’s enthusiasm. ‘The midfield we had didn’t have a cruncher or a ball winner,’ he says. ‘But they didn’t let you rest. If they didn’t win the ball by nicking it, they forced errors in possession.There was not a team better in the country at doing that than us.’
Says Docherty, of the team he had put together, ‘I really couldn’t wait for the Saturday. I couldn’t wait to see my team play… This book chronicles the start of that journey faithfully. It provided a great trip down memory lane for me, and I hope it does for you supporters too.’
The book has already received rave reviews in preview copies. Red News, the popular fanzine, say ‘This is a season which has always captured the imagination of United supporters; a unique season in the modern era and Wayne Barton brings it to life. This does that incredible period justice, with Barton gaining the trust of his subjects which makes their stories much more honest, and revealing.’
The Independent say ‘Wayne Barton has already built a reputation as the leading writer on the period in Manchester United’s history between Busby and Ferguson which in many ways is the most fascinating of all, as the club strived to make it back to the top. The story of the 1974/75 season will not be familiar to many younger fans but this book – published 40 years on from that remarkable campaign – is an essential read; full of detailed research and insight into a campaign which arguably revealed even more of the United spirit than the glory years did.’
‘74/75’ is released on April 26th through Empire Publications. The book is available to order through this website and for a limited period, copies signed by Sammy McIlroy are available to order.