‘Back to winning ways’: Busby Babe Wilf McGuinness calls for Manchester United to brush off derby defeat

Exclusive by Ross McLean

Former Old Trafford boss Wilf McGuinness insists there will be no derby day hangover as Manchester United’s title march continues this weekend against Stoke City.

United head to the Britannia Stadium cauldron on Sunday still 12 points clear of their city rivals with seven Barclays Premier League games remaining.

And McGuinness – who replaced Sir Matt Busby as United manager in 1969 – expects the Red Devils to secure maximum points as they bid for a record 20th league title.

“I believe United will be straight back to winning ways this weekend,” he said. “But it will be a tough game as Stoke will fight for everything, but United are more than capable of getting through them.

“It would be a big shock to me if United didn’t get a win but they will have to be on their toes.

“Make no mistake, Stoke are a strong side and United will have to be careful but I’m sure the quality in the team will see them through.”

United have an impressive record in the Potteries with three wins and a draw from four league fixtures since Stoke’s promotion to the top flight in 2008.

But the former England international – who made 81 appearances for the Old Trafford club between 1954 and 1959 – expects United to come up against typically combative opponents.

“Stoke are strong and will play to their assets and make it a hard game,” he said.

“They are very brave and will play to the best of their ability which will make for a competitive sort of game.

“They will use a lot of long-balls so United will just have to roll-up their sleeves and match their work-rate.

“But I’m very confident of a United win as they usually do well down there against them.”

McGuinness picked-up a 1956 league winners medal as the “Busby Babes” secured back-to-back titles and qualified for the European Cup.

And the 75-year-old highlights one team in particular from his era which bore similarities to the modern day Potters.

“Leeds United were a hard team to beat as they played a hard game as well – very similar to Stoke in that respect,” he said.

“Liverpool were in the old second division in my day so we didn’t worry about them too much.

“Leeds were very difficult opponents but fortunately when they scored they tried to hold onto what they had and that cost them dearly at times.”

McGuinness – injured at the time of the Munich air disaster in 1958 – now chairs the United and City former players’ association.

And despite Monday night’s derby reverse, he does not feel the United squad will be destabilised in any way as the title race enters its final furlong.

“I reckon United have enough points on the board – it would be the biggest shock ever if they don’t win the league,” he said.

“We’ve seen shocks before of course but I think United will be ok as I can’t see too many slip-ups between now and the end of the season.

“United deserve to be top as no-one has done better this season although there haven’t been many games when United could feel they have murdered the opposition.

“And it’s difficult to keep winning when it’s not flowing but they’ve stuck at it and they have the best manager ever in Sir Alex Ferguson – he’ll keep them on their toes.”

Image courtesy of MUST via YouTube, with thanks.

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