IT'S OFFICIAL ... Busby's Babes would be blitzed if they stepped out against Alex Ferguson's multi-million pound Manchester United squad at Old Trafford tonight.IT'S OFFICIAL ... Busby's Babes would be blitzed if they stepped out against Alex Ferguson's multi-million pound Manchester United squad at Old Trafford tonight.
The late Sir Matt had football icons like Best, Law and Charlton at his disposal when he conquered Europe in 1968 but Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs and Co would simply run them off the park.
And that's the verdict of the legendary Bobby Charlton himself, the man who lifted the Champions' Cup after his Red Devils had beaten Benfica 4-1 on that famous night at Wembley.
``The team of today is much better prepared than we were in terms of fitness and conditioning. And they certainly are better paid,'' said Sir Bobby yesterday.
``We didn't train with anything like the same intensity as they do now,'' he added. ``Though I do believe that, as individuals, the players on the 1968 team would be good enough to play today.''
Though Charlton shied away from drawing direct comparison between Sir Matt Busby and United's current manager, he reckons that Ferguson could be hailed as the British game's greatest-ever boss if he brings the Champions Cup back to Old Trafford.
With two League and Cup Doubles and four Premiership titles to his credit, not to mention European Cup-Winners Cups with both Manchester United and Aberdeen, Fergie certainly rivals Busby, Jock Stein, Kenny Dalglish and Bill Shankley as the best manager reared on the banks of the Clyde.
``Sir Matt and Alex are two different personalities,'' says Charlton. ``They both were passionate about what they did and each was successful in his own way but they both came from different generations, two different eras, so they really cannot be compared.
``Alex Ferguson has proved himself with his success both in Scotland and England and who's to say he's not the most successful British manager ever if he manages to win the Champions League.
``Winning the European Cup was very tough in the sixties, when international travel was more difficult and you had to contend with the teams that won Europe's other great leagues,'' he adds.
``Yet I travel in Europe with the team now and it's just as tough, if not more difficult, to win the Champions League as standards have risen so much right across the board and seem to be getting higher every year.''
Charlton, now a distinguished member of the United Board, recognises the enormity of the task facing Fergie and his players as they pursue a League, FA Cup and European Champions Cup treble.
Crunch time comes tomorrow night in Turin when they face Juventus in the second leg of a semi-final tie which is delicately balanced at 1-1. ``Juventus are a good football side and this is a tough proposition, even harder than the quarter-final at Inter Milan.'' said Charlton. ``But I believe we can pull through.''
Will it take another flash of Ryan Giggs' genius? ``It will be a long time before we see a goal like that one again,'' said Charlton of the Welshman's Cup semi-final strike against Arsenal.
``That was a unique moment from a unique player and represents a special moment in time for those lucky enough to be there to see it,'' said Charlton. ``You cannot rely on something like that happening again.''
Charlton was speaking at the launch of a £4m initiative to bring almost 2500 children from all 203 FIFA member-states to England if their campaign to host the 2006 World Cup succeeds.
Drogheda back in the big time
DROGHEDA UTD 1 KILKENNY CITY 0
DELIGHTED Drogheda United clinched promotion to the Premier Division but they had to work all the way to defeat a gallant Kilkenny City at United Park last night.
The result now means that a win against Longford on Friday and Galway City on Sunday week will give the Louth club its third Division One title in 12 years.
On a great day for Drogheda the club also confirmed that they have won their arbitration battle with the FAI over the controversial suspension of Gareth Byrne and Mark Revins.
Legal senior counsel, Thomas Smith, an independent arbitrator, ruled that the three-match suspension imposed by the FAI National League on the two players should be reduced to two games. The ruling meant that both Byrne and Revins were able to line out last.
Last night Drogheda put the ball in the net after 21 minutes when Derek Thornton broke through and tapped home only to see his effort disallowed for an earlier foul.
The home side were more upbeat in the second half and they went in front after 69 minutes. A Drogheda break saw Greg O'Dowd take possession in midfield and spotting Revins' free he put the club's ace marksman clear.
20-year-old Revins raced his way past three defenders but the club's top scorer hit a mediocre shot which somehow rolled under the body of Josh Moran for the goal that clinched promotion.