Football Managers: 1880-1918

Early football clubs were run by committees. These management committees selected the team and purchased players. Sometimes these committees appointed secretary/managers to carry out these duties.

The first of these great football secretary/manager was Major William Sudell. He was the manager of a local factory, when he was appointed as secretary of Preston North End. Sudell decided to improve the quality of the team by importing top players from other areas. This included several players from Scotland.

Over the next few years players such as John Goodall, Jimmy Ross, Nick Ross, David Russell, John Gordon, John Graham, Robert Mills-Roberts, James Trainer, Samuel Thompson and George Drummond. He also recruited some outstanding local players, including Bob Holmes, Robert Howarth and Fred Dewhurst. As well as paying them money for playing for the team, Sudell also found them highly paid work in Preston.

In 1884 Tom Mitchell became secretary/manager of Blackburn Rovers. On 20th July, 1885, the FA announced that it was "in the interests of Association Football, to legalise the employment of professional football players, but only under certain restrictions". Clubs were allowed to pay players provided that they had either been born or had lived for two years within a six-mile radius of the ground.

Blackburn Rovers immediately registered as a professional club. Their accounts show that they spent a total of £615 on the payment of wages during the 1885-86 season. Tom Mitchell used a similar strategy to William Sudell at Preston North End and recruited several players from Scotland.

Blackburn Rovers began to dominate English football. They reached the 1885 FA Cup Final by beating Darwen Old Wanders (6-1), Staveley (7-1), Brentwood (3-1) and Swifts (2-1) Seven of the Blackburn Rovers team were appearing in their third successive final, whereas Fergie Suter, Hugh McIntyre, Jimmy Brown and Jimmy Douglas were playing in their fourth final in five season. The game against West Bromwich Albion at the Oval ended in a 0-0 draw.

The replay took place at the Racecourse Ground, Derby. A goal by Joe Sowerbutts gave Blackburn Rovers an early lead. In the second-half James Brown collected the ball in his own area, took the ball past several WBA players, ran the length of the field and scored one of the best goals scored in a FA Cup final. Blackburn Rovers now joined the Wanderers in achieving three successive cup final victories.

In March, 1888, William McGregor, a director of Aston Villa, circulated a letter suggesting that "ten or twelve of the most prominent clubs in England combine to arrange home and away fixtures each season." The following month the Football League was formed. It consisted of six clubs from Lancashire (Preston North End, Accrington, Blackburn Rovers, Burnley and Everton) and six from the Midlands (Aston Villa, Derby County, Notts County, Stoke, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers). The main reason Sunderland was excluded was because the other clubs in the league objected to the costs of travelling to the North-East.

The first season of the Football League began in September, 1888. William Sudell and his Preston North End side won the first championship without losing a single match and acquired the name the "invincibles". Preston also beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-0 to win the 1889 FA Cup Final.

Preston North End won the league the following season but finished second to Everton (1890-91) and Sunderland (1892-93). Preston's top players were persuaded to sign for other clubs: John Goodall (Derby County), Jimmy Ross (Liverpool), David Russell (Nottingham Forest), Samuel Thompson (Wolverhampton Wanderers), whereas Bob Holmes, George Drummond, Robert Mills-Roberts, James Trainer and John Graham retired from full-time professional football.

At the beginning of the 1889-90 season Tom Mitchell, the club secretary of Blackburn Rovers, recruited four top players from Scotland: Tom Brandon, Johnny Forbes, George Dewar and Harry Campbell. That season Blackburn finished in 3rd place, six points behind Preston North End. They did even better in the FA Cup. On the way to the final they beat Sunderland (4-2), Grimsby Town (3-0), Bootle (7-0) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (1-0).

Blackburn were odds-on favourites to win the cup against Sheffield Wednesday, who played in the Football Alliance league.

Blackburn took the lead in the 6th minute when a shot from Billy Townley was deflected past the Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper. Harry Campbell hit the post before Nathan Walton converted a pass from Townley. Blackburn scored a third before half-time when James Southworth scored from another of Townley's dangerous crosses from the wing. Townley scored his second, and Blackburn's fourth goal in the 50th minute. Bennett got one back for the Sheffield side when Bennett headed past the advancing Horne. Townley completed his hat-trick when he converted a pass from Lofthouse. Ten minutes before the end of the game, Lofthouse completed the scoring and Blackburn had won the cup 6-1. As Philip Gibbons pointed out in his book Association Football in Victorian England: "The Blackburn side had given one of the finest exhibitions of attacking football in an FA Cup Final, with England internationals, Walton, Townley, Lofthouse and John Southworth at the peak of their form."

The following season Blackburn Rovers had another good run in the FA Cup and beat Middlesborough Ironopolis (3-0), Chester (7-0), Wolverhampton Wanderers (2-0), West Bromwich Albion (3-2) to reach their second successive final.

Notts County were their opponents. Blackburn Rovers put County under pressure from the beginning and in the 8th minute, centre-half George Dewar scored from a corner. Before the end of the first-half, James Southworth and Billy Townley added further goals. Jimmy Oswald of Notts County did score a late consolation goal but Blackburn finished comfortable 3-1 winners and won the FA Cup for the 5th time in 8 years.

The third great manager of this period was Ernest Mangnall who joined Manchester United in 1903. He was recruited from Burnley and as the authors of The Essential History of Manchester United pointed out: "Mangnall... preached a gospel of physical fitness and team spirit while maintaining that players should be given a ball only once a week".

Mangnall made several new signings. Probably the most significant was Charlie Roberts, who cost a record transfer fee of £600. At the time Mangnall was criticised for paying such a large sum for such an inexperienced player. However, it proved to be an inspired decision and it was not long before Roberts established himself as the keystone of the Manchester United defence.

Other important signings by Ernest Mangnall included John Peddie, Charlie Sagar, George Wall, John Picken, Thomas Blackstock and Alec Bell.

In the 1905-06 season Manchester United won promotion to the First Division when they finished second to Bristol City. The club scored 90 goals in 38 games and top scorers were John Picken (20), John Peddie (18) and Charlie Sagar (16). Manchester United's defence was also impressive and only let in 28 goals that season.

Manchester United started off the 1907-08 season with three straight wins. They were then beaten 2-1 by Middlesbrough. However, this was followed by another ten wins and United quickly built up a good advantage over the rest of the First Division. Although Liverpool beat them 7-4 on 25th March, 1908, Manchester United went on to win the title by nine points. Top scorers were Sandy Turnbull (25), George Wall (19), Jimmy Turnbull (10) and Billy Meredith (10).

Ernest Mangnall had created an impressive team that was solid in defence and exciting in attack. The former Southampton player, Harry Moger, was a reliable goalkeeper who played in 38 league games that season. Dick Holden (26) or George Stacey (18) competed for the right-back position whereas Herbert Burgess (27) was the left-back. It has been argued that the half-back line of Dick Duckworth (35), Charlie Roberts (32) and Alec Bell (35) was the heart-beat of the side. Billy Meredith (37) and George Wall (36) were probably the best wingers playing in the Football League at the time and provided plenty of service for the inside trio of Sandy Turnbull (30), Jimmy Turnbull (26) and Jimmy Bannister (36). The championship winning team included four players purchased from Manchester City at an auction at the Queen's Hotel in October 1906.

The following season Manchester United enjoyed a good run in the FA Cup. They beat Brighton & Hove Albion (1-0), Everton (1-0), Blackburn Rovers (6-1), Burnley (3-2) and Newcastle United (1-0) to reach the final. Newcastle, who went onto win the league that season, was obviously disappointed by being prevented from winning the double. However, the whole of the Newcastle team waited for 15 minutes in torrential rain aboard an open coach so they could applaud their conquerors after the game.

Jimmy Turnbull (5), Harold Halse (4) and Sandy Turnbull (3) got the goals during the successful cup run that got them to the final at Crystal Palace against Bristol City. As both clubs usually wore red, Bristol played in blue whereas Manchester United played in white shirts with a deep red "V". The game was disappointing and Sandy Turnbull scored the only goal in the 22nd minute.

In June 1910 Ernest Mangnal purchased Enoch West from Nottingham Forest. He replaced Jimmy Turnbull in the attack and had a great season scoring 19 goals in 35 games. West formed a great partnership with Sandy Turnbull and together they scored more than half of the team's goals. On the last Saturday of the season Aston Villa led Manchester United by one point. United had to play third-place Sunderland at Old Trafford whereas Aston Villa had to go to Liverpool.

Manchester United won their game 5-1. Charlie Roberts told the Manchester Saturday Post what happened next: "At the end of the game our supporters rushed across the ground in front of the stand to wait for the final news from Liverpool. Suddenly a tremendous cheer rent the air and was renewed again and again and we knew we were the champions once again." Aston Villa had been beaten 3-1 and Ernest Mangnall and United had won their second championship in four years.

Jimmy Ruffell played for West Ham United between 1920 and 1937. The team was managed by Syd King but he claimed that it was Charlie Paynter who decided on the team's tactics: "Syd King was a good manager. But he left a lot of the day-to-day stuff to our trainer Charlie Paynter. It was Charlie that most of us talked to about anything. Syd King was more about doing deals to get players to play for West Ham."

Similiar comments were made about Joe Smith who managed Blackpool between 1935-1956. Stanley Matthews argued that Smith: "Never a great tactician, or even a reasonable one, he was nevertheless the best manager I ever had the privilege to play for. Joe brought out the best in me because he allowed me to play my natural game. I will always be grateful for his support and belief, especially when I look back to those moments when situations contrived to make me doubt myself and my own ability... Joe was a great psychologist who could kid an average player into believing and performing as a good one, and a good player as a very good one. He signed some very good players, and that's the hardest part of a manager's job. Joe did it time and again. As I have said before, a manager doesn't have to tell good players what to do, they know."

Cyril Robinson played in the 1953 FA Cup Final for Blackpool against Bolton Wanderers. He later claimed that before the game all Smith said was "go out there and get them beat". According to Stanley Matthews he said: "Go out and enjoy yourselves. Be the players I know you are and we'll be all right."

Stan Mortensen also played under Joe Smith at Blackpool. He also admitted that Smith spent little time speaking about tactics leaving it up to Harry Johnson, the captain: "Joe has one great virtue outstanding among all his others - and they are many. He is just about the best loser and winner in football. If we win he is never up in the air and dreaming of championships; and if we lose, he is quick to give consolation, and never gets down in the mouth. Joe has been so long in the game as player and manager that he knows full well that one defeat doesn't mean relegation, any more than one win heralds the winning of the Cup or League."

Primary Sources

(1) Mike Jackman, Blackburn Rovers : An Illustrated History (1995)

After an opening day win (in the 1892-93 season), a narrow 4-3 victory over Newton Heath at Ewood Park, the Rovers then began on a sequence that brought five draws and five defeats from their next 10 League games. It was during the later stages of this sequence that Tom Mitchell was again dispatched to Scotland to find players of genuine quality. Within a matter of a month the club had made several significant signings. George (known as Geordie) Anderson was signed from Leith Athletic to occupy the centre-half position, while Harry Marshall, an outstanding Scottish international half-back, was signed from Hearts.

(2) Charles Francis, History of Blackburn Rovers: 1875-1925 (1925)

Mr. T. B. Marshall, who for a long period was an important figure in the football world... Mitchell was a prime mover in the establishment of the Football League. A noted referee.. among his engagements were an international match at Glasgow, two final ties in the Irish Division of the Association Cup competition when clubs other than those in England and Wales were allowed to enter; and a final for the Welsh Cup Fond of all kinds of sport, Mr. mitchell was a dead shot with a gun, and as an owner of greyhounds met with more than average success at club meetings. On his appointment as secretary, a position he held about 12 years, he gave whole-hearted service to the club, which during his regime twice carried off the Association Cup.

(3) Wilf Mannion, Association Football (1949)

Real tactics I agree begin in the dressing room when club officials will be able to give the players some idea of the general methods, weaknesses and strength of the opposition. It is then that not one, but several plans are made, or should be made, so that the opposition can be attacked at its weakest point and probes made where other weaknesses are suspected.

Mobility is the secret of any team's success, and that means that the captain should be able at any given moment to switch his plan to some other tactical movement which has been discussed and agreed on by every member of the team.

I cannot agree for instance that one inside forward, let alone two, must always be slightly in the rear of his attacking colleagues. That is not always possible. I agree that as long as the other four are making headway and bringing results the method can be carried on, but if results are not forth¬coming then steps have to be taken to remedy that and it may result in an all-five forward attack.

A team's tactical schemes and plans must always be fluid and a captain and his team must always be ready to adopt them to the turn of events. A move by the defence to counteract an attack must itself be countered by yet another scheme. Positive action all the time is the finest policy any team can adopt : an energetic and versatile attack is the way to victory. A negative policy of avoiding defeat which is often adopted, particularly by an " away " club, is not a happy solution to a team's troubles.

Arsenal, in past seasons, have been said to have had a method all of their own, and frankly I don't believe it for a moment. How often have you heard that they concentrated on defence for long spells to draw their opponents well upfield and, hey presto, the ball suddenly was switched to their hitherto idle forwards who had then nothing to do but race on and put the ball in the net.

There was more to the old Arsenal method than that. Let it be realised that they were a team of stars and their forwards needed no such wide open spaces to make a movement that would bring results. Many are the defenders in England's First Division that have run themselves dizzy trying to stop Arsenal forwards from the word "go".

I will not have it that the Arsenal methods were fixed. I am convinced that with them, more than with most teams, the very fluidity of the team was what mattered... the complete understanding between all the players, the knowledge that each man would be in a certain spot at a certain moment according to the way play was running. At the time of writing Arsenal are having a bad spell; they will rise again.

Dressing-room talks and discussions are very important indeed. Players compare notes from previous experience. The team's agents will probably have watched the opposition in a recent game. No harm can come of putting two and two together and getting an answer in the shape of a plan which will probably outwit the opposition.

But it would be wrong definitely to say to the players: "This is how you will play this particular game; stick to the plan." What might be said would be "This is a probable way of getting off to a good start, try it for a while and if the results are good, carry on."

There is method in that as long as the captain is left to decide whether the method is the right one when he sees how it is working in action. There must be stand-by plans and obviously there must always be considered opinions ready to be brought into operation.

(4) Len Shackleton, Crown Prince of Soccer (1955)

It is high time managers started to manage, instead of being content to bow and scrape like glorified office-boys while directors gratuitously, and usually unsuccessfully, perform the managerial functions. Some managers, of course, have attempted to assert their authority by resisting the subtle, scheming suggestions from the board room overlords. For their pains they have been dismissed-or to be technically accurate, have been asked to tender their resignations.

A very few managers, too, really manage their clubs but for every Matt Busby, Cliff Britton, Bill Murray or Bert Tann there are ten office-boy types who have no more control over the club than their ground-staff lads. Managers accept this unsatisfactory state of affairs - are frank enough to admit it exists, and actually boast they are being paid good salaries for not managing.

I once congratulated a former player on being appointed manager of a famous club, but enquired if he would be able to handle his interfering chairman. He told me, "I know the exact set-up. The chairman will buy and sell players, pick the team, and hand me a nice cheque every month."

Another club "bass" was asked if he had any team changes an hour or so before the kick-off time. His answer? "That's my team in the programme, but I cannot vouch for its taking the field." He had hardly finished speaking when loudspeakers announced two changes in the team, causing him to shrug his shoulders and remark, "See what I mean?"

A former club-mate of mine told me how he was upset a few years ago when his club dropped him from the first team, so he approached his manager for an explanation. He was told, "Don't blame me, son. I don't pick the team."

What satisfaction do these managers get out of soccer? They have sold their self-respect for a monthly cheque: they can never really feel a sense of achievement, even though their team may be topping the League or heading for the Cup Final.

(5) Jimmy Ruffell, interviewed by Brian Belton in 1973.

Syd King was a good manager. But he left a lot of the day-to-day stuff to our trainer Charlie Paynter. It was Charlie that most of us talked to about anything. Syd King was more about doing deals to get players to play for West Ham. But he was good at that. He got us to the Cup final and got West Ham promoted in 1923 so you can't ask for much more than that can you.

(6) Matt Busby, Soccer at the Top (1973)

Directors appoint a manager to manage. Some still do not allow them to do so. When will they ever learn?

But what right had I, what qualifications had I to demand virtual dictatorship of a famous football club? My early background, which I propose to skim over since I have written about it before, would not seem to have qualified me for such a task, I, a pit boy from Bellshill, near Glasgow, who had lost his father in the First World War and who, because of the necessity to help mother's family budget, had not been able to follow the headmaster's advice and train for school-teaching. Nor had I ever managed a football club, and, indeed, I could have played on for another year or two with Liverpool and then perhaps taken a staff job there.

But I did think I knew about football and footballers. Technical knowledge alone will not make a manager in any organization. It is incomplete without a feeling for people. Whether the loss of my father had subconsciously given me a feeling of being unprotected, I do not know. Certainly there is some gap for a boy without a father when all other boys around him could talk about theirs incessantly and did.

Perhaps it induced in me some paternal, protective feeling for other unfortunate or sensitive young people. Whatever induced it I had it. I was only a boy when I left home for the first time to go to Manchester City. Not all boys are tough and adventurous, though in the Seventies fledglings seem to regard it as "chicken" not to leave the nest, whereas it was only the rare bird who flew before the war.

Anyway I was homesick, and it did not help when, having used a senior player's football boots by mistake one day, he gave me a tremendous blasting.

There was a seemingly unbridgeable gulf between first team players and the rest, and an even wider gulf between players and management. They were office managers in those days. A player saw the manager only on Saturday in the coach or if he called you up to his office for a rocket.

I was appalled about those gulfs and about the indignities that were heaped on players. There are players, of course, who are too thick to understand that they are being got at. There are others who feel every stinging, sarcastic thrust, every bullying, scoffing, snide wisecrack.

Perhaps my background had made me a little older than my years, but, long before I became established, long before I was captain of Scotland, long before I moved from Manchester City to Liverpool, I vowed that if ever I became a manager I would respect players as individuals who needed individual treatment and thereby try to inspire respect from them.

(7) Stanley Matthews, The Way It Was (2000)

Blackpool had some very talented players indeed. That said, Joe Smith's dependency on the natural talent of his players to pull Blackpool through didn't always pay off. There were occasions when just a little pre-planning could have paid significant dividends, instances when a little organisation within the side may have made the difference between us being nearlies and landing the silverware I felt our overall talent deserved. Joe's implicit belief in the ability of his players to cope with any situation and win the day was his undoing at times. You don't have to tell good players what to do, but sometimes those talents need channelling. More often than not, Joe's team-talk was brief. What to do in the game was left entirely with the players.

"Get two goals up before half-time, lads," Joe would say, "so I can enjoy my cigar in the second half." Many was the time when Joe had left the dressing room, skipper Harry Johnston would get up to say the opposition had such and such a player in their ranks and point out his weaknesses and indicate to whoever in the Blackpool team was marking him to play him in a certain way. Harry's favourite expression once Joe Smith had left us to our own devices was to say,"`We haven't a bloody due what we're doing, have we?" Harry was right but such was the talent within the ranks we won games on sheer natural ability, with Harry taking on the manager's role on the pitch, issuing instructions as the game progressed.

If that sounds a little harsh on Joe Smith I don't intend it to. For all the emphasis was placed on the players to work things out as we went along in games, he was a marvellous manager, one for whom I had nothing but the highest respect.

(8) Cyril Robinson, The Guardian (3rd May 2008)

Joe Smith, the manager, was never very tactical, he was very blunt with his instructions - "Go out there and get them beat," that kind of thing. You can't tell good players like Matthews and Mortensen what to do.

We lined up to go on to the field, very quiet. Then as soon as we walk on to the pitch, the roar, it sent shivers down your spine. We line up and are introduced to Prince Philip. We're thinking, let's just get on with the game.

We kicked off and within a couple of minutes we had a goal scored against us. That's about the worst thing that could happen. Gradually we got some passes together, got Stan Matthews on the ball and Mortensen got the equaliser, but they went back ahead straight away. Then just after half-time they scored again, 3-1.

(9) Barney Ronay, The Guardian (16th August, 2007)

For the first 40 years or so of professional football there was no real concrete idea of what a manager actually did. Teams were picked by an ad-hoc committee of board members and the secretary-manager, a vaguely clerical figure with a distinctly below-stairs status. Herbert Chapman is credited with pioneering the modern notion of a manager as the dominant personality within a football club, first at Huddersfield and then at Arsenal in the 1920s and 1930s. An avuncular, silk-hatted figure, Chapman also pretty much invented the idea of tactics, floodlights and marketing and public relations, having successfully lobbied to have Gillespie Road tube station renamed Arsenal in 1932.

(10) Stephen F. Kelly, Bill Shankly (1997)

In 1933, Preston North End were a club with a rich history but a gloomy-looking future... When Bill Shankly landed on their doorstep, they were little more than a moderate Second Division side. They had been relegated in 1925 along with Nottingham Forest and had struggled ever since to escape the anonymity of Second Division soccer. In the season before Shankly arrived, they had finished ninth in the table, fourteen points adrift of champions Stoke City.

Like so many other industrial cities, Preston suffered appallingly during the thirties. The Depression hit Lancashire hard. Across the country, the number of unemployed rose to 2.9 million, a staggering 20% of the working population and, if those who were unregistered were included, the total was nearer three-and-a-half million. Everywhere, the unemployed protested.

In Lancashire, they marched to Preston and in Scotland they descended on Glasgow, while those from Jarrow in the North-east marched bravely to London, pricking the conscience of the nation. The politicians called the unemployed regions Distressed Areas. It somehow sounded better. Unemployment benefit was basic if not downright miserable. The Means Test, with its crippling rules, ensured that money was only forthcoming if certain stringent criteria were met. And, when money was paid out, it was done so begrudgingly and in small amounts. Few claimants met the criteria; most survived thanks only to family and friends.

In some areas of Lancashire, unemployment topped the 25% mark. Preston was a cotton-spinning town and like all the cotton towns of Lancashire had been severely shaken by the Depression. Almost half a million cotton workers were on the dole. Exports to India had crashed. Looms lay idle; mills were closing. Unemployment in Preston, even though it hit an all-time high, may not have been as bad as some parts of Lancashire, like Mersyside and Blackburn, but there were still more than 15% on the dole...

Shankly was as aware as anyone of the problems of unemployment: he'd seen it all before. In Ayrshire, his family and friends had suffered as the mines closed and it was little better in Carlisle. He'd spent a couple of months on the dole himself and was well aware of the humiliations that unemployment brought. But in case he had forgotten, he was to be rudely awoken by what he saw in Preston.

Shankly was lucky. At the end of his first season, his wages had risen to £8 with £6 in summer, a small fortune in a place like Preston. It allowed for the luxury of going out occasionally though, as ever, much of his money was sent home to his family in Ayrshire. But it would get better. Shankly arrived at the peak of unemployment and, as the thirties unwound, jobs were beginning to return and with them wealth creation. Even the fortunes of Preston North End began to look up...

It was a learning process and Shankly was developing as rapidly as anyone. By December, he had made the first team. He made his debut against newly promoted Hull City on Saturday 9 December. Ironically, Shankly had played against Hull just a few months earlier when he was with Carlisle and had been on the wrong end of a 6-1 drubbing. This time, the boot was on the other foot. Preston won 5-0. Preston were three goals up within half an hour with Shankly having a hand in the second goal. His arrival did not go unnoticed in the press. 'Shankly passed the ball cleverly,' reported the Sporting Chronicle without going into further detail. It was probably the first time his name had appeared in a national paper.

By the end of the season, Preston had clinched promotion as runners-up to champions Grimsby. It was to be the start of a famous period in Preston's history. They had begun the season confidently and after a couple of games were topping the table. By October however, they had slipped and by early December they were down to seventh place. But then the inclusion of Shankly seemed to revive them. Their win over Hull hoisted them into sixth spot, some way behind Grimsby who were runaway leaders almost the entire season.

Preston were not always obvious promotion candidates. One week, they would shoot up the table and, overtake their promotion rivals, only to lose their next game and slither back the following one. Grimsby had clinched promotion by early April, but the second promotion place remained in doubt until the final day of the season.

It was neck and neck between Bolton Wanderers and Preston, two of Lancashire's most famous clubs. Both teams had 50 points from 41 games: Bolton looked to have the easier final fixture with a visit to Lincoln, while Preston were at Southampton. But much to everyone's surprise, Bolton could manage only a draw while Preston won 1-0 and were into the First Division. After making his debut in December, Shankly had gone on to play all season. Once he was in the side, he was there to stay and undoubtedly became an important influence on Preston's promotion challenge.

(11) Barney Ronay, The Guardian (25th April, 2007)

Bill Shankly is probably still British football's most celebrated socialist. Wisecracking, dapper and a charismatic orator, Shankly was a hugely successful manager of Liverpool through the 60s and early 70s. What seems most remarkable about him now is his insistence on talking politics, even while talking football: "The socialism I believe in is everyone working for each other, everyone having a share of the rewards. It's the way I see football, the way I see life."

Shankly traced his political beliefs to his upbringing in the Ayrshire mining village of Glenbuck. A childhood spent in areas dominated by heavy industry and trade union influence has been a common theme among football's senior socialists. Sir Alex Ferguson was a Govan shipyard shop steward before he became a player with Rangers. His backing for the Blair Labour leadership is well documented. At the last general election he posted a message on the government's website praising "two brilliant barnstorming speeches from Tony and Gordon". Ferguson, with his fine wines and his multi-million pound racehorse ownership disputes, has frequently been subjected to the familiar jibe of "champagne socialism". Football is fond of this kind of reasoning, based on the idea that those with socialist beliefs are expected to live exemplary altruistic lives, whereas rightwingers can pretty much do whatever they want. Nottingham Forest legend Brian Clough, a sponsor of the anti-Nazi League and a regular on picket lines during the miners' strike, had his own riposte. "For me, socialism comes from the heart. I don't see why certain sections of the community should have the franchise on champagne and big houses."

(12) Barney Ronay, The Guardian (16th August, 2007)

Liverpool manager Bill Shankly was the first to make an impression as a "personality" outside of the narrow confines of football. Shankly's success in the 60s and early 70s was soundtracked by his own apparently endless repertoire of quips and wisecracks, as the hitherto rather stilted and secretive world of football management acquired a public voice for the first time. A dapper, sharp-suited Scot, Shankly took his inspiration from American entertainers. His delivery was a cross between James Cagney and Groucho Marx, and he borrowed his defining epigram - the one about football not being a matter of life and death, but actually something much more important than that - from the gridiron coach, Vince Lombardi.

(13) Stanley Matthews, The Way It Was (2000)

Matt Busby joined Manchester City from the small Scottish club Denny Hibernians in 1928, originally as an inside-right, but his career blossomed when City switched him to right-half. He never had a crunching tackle, but so precise was his timing that he stole the ball off your toe. For all he was a resolute defender, he loved to get forward; in many respects he was what we would term today an attacking midfielder. Matt won an FA Cup winners medal in 1934 when Manchester City beat Portsmouth 2-1 in the final. City's teenage goalkeeper Frank Swift was so overcome with emotion he collapsed and had to be carried to the Royal Box to receive his medal. Matt moved on from City to Liverpool in 1936 for what was then a considerable fee of £8,000 and stayed at Anfield until war broke out in 1939 when, like just about every other player of the day, he joined the services. Matt did turn out for Liverpool in unofficial matches during the war years and guested for a number of clubs situated near to wherever he was stationed, but effectively his playing career ended in 1939.

One of Matt's greatest strengths as a player was his passing. Not only could he split open defences but the pass was always so beautifully timed and weighted it was perfect for City forwards such as Eric Brook, Freddie Tilson or Alex Herd to latch on to without breaking their stride. For all players were tightly marked in the thirties, Matt could overcome all that with one sweeping pass. I think his ability to pick out team-mates with superlative passing was indicative of his great vision even then.

That Matt was a visionary there is no doubt. He pioneered youth systems and took part in European football against current thinking. We all accept these as part and parcel of the modern game, but then they were radical. He built three great United teams - one in the immediate post-war years led by Johnny Carey, the Busby Babes of the fifties and United's League Championship and European Cup-winning side of the sixties that included football's holy trinity of George Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law.

From player in the thirties to manager in the Swinging Sixties, for all he was an innovator, he never changed his style, always holding true to a belief in sportsmanship, open entertaining football and the virtues of family life. As a manager he enjoyed patriarchal status but because of his receptiveness to new ideas was never considered old-fashioned. To this day, he is still thought of as being one of British football's foremost innovators. In creating his Busby Babes, Matt set up a network of scouts throughout the British Isles to find the very best young players. Up to that point, managers more or less just tapped into what young talent was about within a 30-mile radius of the club. Matt changed all that, but his desire to create a great team of United-bred youngsters was foiled by the Munich air disaster of 1958 in which Matt himself came close to death. Resolute and undeterred, he overcame tragedy and rebuilt. His reward came in 1968 when his League Championship side of the year before became the first English club to win the European Cup when they beat Benfica 4-1 at Wembley.

(14) Stan Mortensen, Football is My Game (1949)

A club team-manager is very different from an international manager such as Walter Winterbottom. The man in charge of a club side, no matter at what level, has to make the most of what material he possesses. Broadly speaking, he will probably have two or three stars; perhaps a couple of youngsters up and coming, but still needing tuition and guidance; maybe one veteran who knows it all and needs nursing; and the remaining players of a level ability. He has to weld them into a team, keep them happy, and make the most of what skill there is packed into twenty-two boots and eleven heads.

With Walter Winterbottom it is different. He has eleven players chosen from about three thousand League professionals, and he is not team manager to teach them how to play football. But he can suggest ways and means of playing winning football.

For obvious reasons, I am not going to tell you what our little stratagems are. But I can tell you this: we have planned goals and then scored them. One against Portugal at Lisbon was put into the net just as we hoped.

The great value of having a team-manager such as Walter is that he almost always takes a look at our opponents beforehand. So he is able to tell us where, in his opinion, they are weak and strong - especially weak. So the English international team is able to go into the match with an attacking plan designed to strike at the weak spots.

Walter is clever at preventing training from being dull. For instance, when we are shooting in, he doesn't just have a ball rolled to the forwards. Anyone ought to be able to shoot at a goalkeeper with the ball thrown nicely, anyway. No - he places two defenders there as well, and the forwards have to move in and crack the ball in a split second as under match-play conditions. This is keener training, and less monotonous. In fact, friendly rivalry makes it a grand pastime.

Believe me it is a great experience to play under his direction, and I should say here that it is equally stimulating to play under the Blackpool manager, Mr. Joe Smith. A club manager, with the usual problems of loss of form and various degrees of playing skill, Joe has one great virtue outstanding among all his others - and they are many. He is just about the best loser and winner in football. If we win he is never up in the air and dreaming of championships; and if we lose, he is quick to give consolation, and never gets down in the mouth.

Joe has been so long in the game as player and manager that he knows full well that one defeat doesn't mean relegation, any more than one win heralds the winning of the Cup or League. To have both feet firmly planted on the ground in the Joe Smith fashion is one of the first assets in first-class football. That goes for every footballer.

(15) Stanley Matthews, The Way It Was (2000)

For Blackpool, 1958 was a watershed year because Joe Smith left the club after 23 years in charge. It still isn't clear whether Joe left of his own accord or was pushed, but leave he did and, to my mind, the day he cleared his desk, Blackpool said goodbye to the best manager they have ever had in their history. Perhaps the fact we had not repeated our great FA Cup success of 1953 and had not won the First Division Championship despite being there or thereabouts, prompted the Blackpool directors to look for a new man to take the helm. Maybe, after 23 years at Bloomfield Road and now subject to bouts of ill-health, Joe simply felt he had had enough. Whatever the reason was, his departure saddened me.

He was, as I have said so often, a wily old bird. Never a great tactician, or even a reasonable one, he was nevertheless the best manager I ever had the privilege to play for. Joe brought out the best in me because he allowed me to play my natural game. I will always be grateful for his support and belief, especially when I look back to those moments when situations contrived to make me doubt myself and my own ability. When the Blackpool board agreed to my transfer to what was then a declining Stoke City, he stood firm and wouldn't let me go. The fact that I stayed to enjoy Blackpool's, and my, finest hour was all down to Joe and I like to think my performance in that 1953 Cup final went some way to repaying the faith he always had in me.

Joe was a great psychologist who could kid an average player into believing and performing as a good one, and a good player as a very good one.

He signed some very good players, and that's the hardest part of a manager's job. Joe did it time and again. As I have said before, a manager doesn't have to tell good players what to do, they know. His team-talks may have been brief but some of his words have stayed with me.

(16) Hugh McIlvanney is a football journalist from Scotland. He was interviewed by Rick Glanvill for his book Sir Matt Busby: A Tribute.

It was utterly extraordinary that three great managers, Matt Busby, Jock Stein and Bill Shankly, came from the same area of Scotland, and it was, I think, very significant. These people absorbed the best of the true ethos of that working-class environment. There was a richness of spirit bred into people from mining areas.

I'm likely to see it that way because my father worked in the pits for a while, but there is no question that there was a camaraderie. Stein said that he would never work with better men than he It was utterly extraordinary that three great managers, Matt Busby, Jock Stein and Bill Shankly, came from the same area of Scotland, and it was, I think, very significant. These people absorbed the best of the true ethos of that working-class environment. There was a richness of spirit bred into people from mining areas. I'm likely to see it that way because my father worked in the pits for a while, but there is no question that there was a camaraderie. Stein said that he would never work with better men than he did when he was a miner, that the guys who got carried away with football were never going to impress him much, and although Shankly was completely potty about the game and was the great warrior/poet of football, he nevertheless retained that sense o f what real men should do, the sense of dignity, the sense of pride.