Wednesday 21 February 2018

Louis van Gaal inspired by spirit of Busby Babes

Louis van Gaal at a ceremony for the Busby Babes today
Louis van Gaal at a ceremony for the Busby Babes today

Mark Ogden

Louis van Gaal vowed to honour the memory of the Busby Babes at Manchester United with ‘flair and pace and passion’ after admitting to being inspired by a memorial service at Old Trafford marking the 57th anniversary of the Munich air disaster.

Van Gaal, who confirmed he would contest a Football Association charge of alleging bias against referee Chris Foy before Monday’s deadline, attended the annual Munich memorial tribute on Friday afternoon to mark the loss of 23 people, including eight United players, in the 1958 air crash.

The Dutchman laid a wreath underneath a plaque honouring the Munich dead before observing the ceremony and he admitted to being moved by the supporters’ tribute to the Babes.

“I represent the club nowadays as a manager and my group of players,” Van Gaal said. “They [Busby Babes] were also a group of players who brought a lot of joy to the people at that time.

“I think they have played a big part of the history of this club. I think we have to remember that always.

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“There were men who were singing [at the memorial service] and I was impressed.

“I want to read in front of you what they said because I was impressed because of the big influence they [Babes] still have now.

“These were the last sentences…’You are the strength and inspiration for those who play your roles today’ – That’s me and the players – ‘We look for flair and pace and passion, to play the game United’s way.’

“I was happy I was there because of this and also the impression the people gave to me.

“I think we have made the right decision to be there, out of respect for the players and Matt Busby, and what they left.

“I think it was impressive for the all the people and also me.

“It was 57 years ago and still the people are coming and still we remember and that doesn’t happen so often, so I think it’s good.”

Van Gaal, meanwhile, admitted his surprise at being charged by the FA this week for comments made about Foy following the 0-0 draw at Cambridge on January 23.

And the United manager, who has until 6pm on Monday to respond to the FA, insisted he would fight the charge.

“I am not angry, I am very disappointed,” Van Gaal said. “I am now for nearly 30 years a trainer-coach or manager and I have never been charged.

“And still, up to now, I don't think that I said something wrong.

“I said already in our press conference, the same phrases, because I know in advance [of the tie] that everything is in favour of the underdog.

"I said it in front [before] the game and I said it after the game, only in the meaning of the general feeling of everybody, everybody for the underdog.

“So I cannot imagine the FA has charged me. But, okay, it's like that. Of course I will contest it. I never said anything wrong.

“You can confirm, as the media, that I never say anything about the referee, in all the matches I have played.”

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