What does it take to make a winning soccer team?

Article by Tomislav Kovacevic

The Busby Babes

The Busby babes are known as the formidable team of their generation. Sir Matt Busby is still one of the greatest managers of all time to have lived. He managed the Red Devils for a glorious 25 years in which he won 5 English league titles, 2 English FA Cups and a European Cup. In the early 1950’s to the mid 1950’s, Sir Matt Busby inherited a team called ‘the Busby babes’. This came down to sheer amount of youth players he used to select week in week out from the youth squad that he turned into world class players. In the space of four years, the only significant signings the club made were Tommy Taylor and goalkeeper Harry Gregg. The rest of the side were brought up through the youth ranks at Manchester United and they became the youngest side to ever win the English first division in 1951-1952 at an average age of just 22.

Munich air disaster

Four years later the Busby babes went on to win the first division title 2 years running in 1955 and 1956. They had Bobby Charlton and Duncan Edwards as the two main players at the time and were always regular England internationals. A devastating plane crash in 1958 in the Munich air disaster saw 23 people die, 8 of whom were first team players which saw the unfortunate demise of Manchester United FC. Despite this fatal disaster, Manchester United FC were a formidable club, knowing how to win the title with such young players comes from natural skill and the ability to have trust in young players from the manager can pay dividends.


The way Football is nowadays is a complete contrast to what Football used to be like in the 50’s and 60’s. Player’s ability on the ball, their technical attributes such as their passing and shooting were much more effective. Not only did skill come into it, but Football was their passion, their pride and joy. They got paid very little compared to what they do know and the players didn’t care about the money, they just wanted to play the game they loved and it showed in their performances with their dedication to their clubs.


Money wasn’t a big part of Football in the early days, now it seems too evolved around everything and is the incentive for all players. The best players in the earlier years wanted to play for the best clubs, not whoever was offering the most money at the time. Not only the player’s money but the fees paid for players from club to club are a big difference. Clubs didn’t pay big money for players back then, they simply couldn’t afford it. Hence the stunning success of the Busby Babes, only signing 2 major players in 4 seasons showed that confidence in youth players to come through and compete at the highest level can prove to be successful.


You wouldn’t see Sir Matt Busby playing two holding midfielders with one lone front man with his team in the 50’s. Seeing such defensive formations as we see today would’ve frustrated Busby greatly. In past years, there was only one formation to play with and that was a four-four-two. Four defenders, four midfielders and two strikers operated the team and were how the team worked together. In recent years has seen the transformation and importance of tactics to make a successful side. There is no right or wrong tactic to play, it is how the manager see’s it and how he wants to make his team play, but many strongly believe that managers are complicating what used to be known as the simple game with illustrious tactical plans and strategies for every play of the game. What used to be about skill and flair on the ball has transformed drastically to who is the fittest and who has the most pace. Almost all successful teams in the past when they were in a winning position, wanted to carry on scoring and get as many as they possibly could. Now teams at the top are content with scoring one goal and clinging onto this lead which is a disappointing sight in Football taking the exciting spectacle out of the game that we used to see.

Liverpool of the 80’s

Liverpool was the dominant side of the 1980’s that has seen them remain a potent side today. No doubt Liverpool gained the reputation they have now from the dominance they sustained in the 80’s. Liverpool won the English league title in 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1988 and 1990, an incredible 7 times in 10 seasons. It also saw 2 English FA cups, 2 English league cups and 2 European cups along the way. Bob Paisley was the main reason behind Liverpool’s success story; he left them in a very good position for Joe Fagan to take over. Joe Fagan was assistant manager to Paisley in his reign so he just carried on Paisley’s good work and Liverpool continued to prove the best side in England at the time.

Consistency is key

Bruce Grobbelaar, Alan Hansen, Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, Graeme Souness, Sammy Lee, Mark Lawrenson, Ronnie Whelan and Jan Molby were just a host of several star players Liverpool had on their books in the mid 1980’s and proved the integral part of success behind Liverpool. Kenny Dalglish earned legendary status at the club, ‘King Kenny’ he was labelled during his magnificent spell at Anfield. Liverpool had players who could change the game with Molby, Dalglish and Rush who were all proven goal scorers and had the defensive resilience of Lawrenson and Hansen with Grobbelaar behind them to be one of the strongest defences of all time. Liverpool had the perfect balance of steel and flair with Graeme Souness being a ‘hard man’ in centre of midfield who wouldn’t let anything past him. Combined with the craft and vision of Kenny Dalglish Liverpool had an unbelievable side. But Liverpool’s consistency year after year saw them a winning team many occasions and never looked like changing until Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign at Manchester United started to take shape and take over Liverpool’s success at United.

21st Century

Sir Alex Ferguson’s appointment of Manchester United in 1986 saw the return of success for the club. Sir Alex Fergusons discipline and man management at Manchester United was the key part of his success at Old Trafford. Players such as Bryan Robson and Norman Whiteside were potentially world class players but didn’t have the right attitude to prove their ability. Ferguson was quick to sort the off the field problems and turned these players into real match winners and Bryan Robson is regarded as one of the best ever England players to have lived.Not only is his discipline a strength of Ferguson’s management but his eye for a player has also been touted as another reason behind Manchester United’s success. Fergie brought in several players in the 90’s that saw the turning point for Manchester United and has carried on till this very day. Paul Ince, Andrei Kanchelskis, Eric Cantona, Peter Schmeichel and Gary Pallister were just several players Fergie brought in and were the core of his team. Fergie set a winning mentality at Manchester United which has seen them been crowned 11 times champions of the English Premiership under Fergie’s management, added with 2 European cup wins in 1999 and 2008. In recent years he has combined excellently the energy of youth and the experience of the old to play a part in Manchester United success. Signing Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney have seen them to go on and be the current world’s best players and being nurtured by Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes has only benefitted their footballing ability.

So how do you maintain it?

Only the greatest managers can you tell you that. Consistency throughout the whole of the club is a key factor, even the cleaners at the club will play a part in the running of the club and what makes the club tick. You may have the best squad of players in the league but you still may not be successful due to problems within the club. Manchester City are on the verge of something great because of the sheer amounts of money at their disposal. This may frustrate many that they’re ‘buying the league’ but they still have a long way to go if they’re going to challenge Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea at the top of the English Premiership. It is disappointing to see that Football as we see it in this era is getting more dependent on money, seeing the best players at average clubs because they’re getting offered more is not how the game should be ran, but unfortunately in today’s climate it is. Not only is the money providing clubs with huge amounts of debt, but it’s also demolishing the English game with many clubs looking abroad for talent rather than home grown talent in the youth ranks. It is very hard to see Football changing back to the ‘good old days’.

About the Author

Tomislav KovacevicProfessional Sports Tipster.Co-Owner of BetsExperts portal.Check out site for free tips, free picks & sport advices.Stop Betting and Start Investing, Right Now at BetsExperts portal.