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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Sir Matt Busby on James Gibson

Mr Jimmy Gibson, the chairman, who had financed and saved the club in 1931, was something of an autocrat. Everybody stood to attention when he approached. One of the first things he said to me when I took the job was: 'I hope you are not going to spend a lot of money'.

His great love for Manchester United exceeded his technical knowledge of the game. But he was anxious, no, determined, to do something about our lean spell after the War. He wanted me to sign somebody - anybody I think. As soon as he saw in a newspaper that a player was 'on offer' I could be sure he would be along that morning to ask if I was about to buy him. The answer had always been 'No', because I had decided each time that the player was not the one I required.

But we were needing a player and, one day, to use the words of another dictator, Mr Gibson's patience was exhausted. A Newcastle player had been transfer-listed. Mr Gibson, as usual, asked me was I going to sign him. I said: 'No, he is not good for us'.

This was too much for the chairman. 'You are always telling me "no", he said, and before I had time to explain why, he went on: 'Well I'm telling you now. Go and sign him' - the obvious implication being: 'Or else!'.

'No', I said, 'and I will remind you of two things, Mr Gibson. I am here to manage the club and part of management is giving you advice. And the second is that I lived long before I ever saw you'.

I thought he was about to have a fit. He brandished his stick in the air until I thought he would hit me with it. But instead he stamped out of the room.

It looked as though I had overdone my independence line. But I had decided that although I would take advice I would still insist on making my own decisions. About fifteen minutes later he came back and said: "Mr Busby, you are a very strong minded person'. I said: 'You are a very strong minded person'. And he said: 'Well I have come back and I want to say I am sorry this has happened. We will carry on as we were'.

From that day he neither interfered with my decisions nor brooked any interference with them by anyone else. At a board meeting he would say: 'Mr Busby says this'. And whatever I had said, 'this' would be that, and no argument. Our respect for each other was complete".

Later when he was a sick man confined to his bed, Jimmy Gibson used to send for me and say: 'Anybody interfering with you, Mr Busby? If there is he will have to go'.


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