Interview: Former Manchester United winger Willie Morgan

Sports Mole speaks to former Manchester United winger Willie Morgan about his time with the club and the current setup at Old Trafford.

Back in 1968, Willie Morgan joined European champions Manchester United from Burnley. This was a side managed by Sir Matt Busby, which contained the likes of George Best, Sir Bobby Charlton and Denis Law.

In terms of trophies, the switch wasn't profitable for Morgan, but the winger spent seven years at Old Trafford, where he became a real favourite of the supporters.

Having recently released his autobiography, entitled On the Wing, the 69-year-old spoke to Sports Mole to discuss the book, as well as his thoughts on the current Man United setup.

You retired in the early 1980s, so why only now have you decided to get your stories and thoughts down on paper?
"People have been trying to get me to write this book for around 30 years now. I had no intention of releasing a book, but it was the writer, Simon Wadsworth, who I did a piece for his book Captains of United. He posed the question - 'why have you never written a book?' I told him that I didn't want to. I also thought it would be far too late to think about it because I'd been finished for so long.

"Anyway, he came back to me a couple of weeks later and told me that he had six publishers that wanted me to do it. So I thought about it and in the end I thought why not have a go? It's taken a couple of years to get it all on tape and he's probably only taken about 10% of it, that's all. There's a lot of stuff on there."

Former Manchester United winger Willie Morgan poses for a team photograph in 1969.

Is there anything that's been included that you wish you hadn't done? Or vice versa? Is there anything that's been omitted that should be included?
"Everything in the book is true and part of my life. There are a lot of things that could have been included, but you'd probably have needed 1,000 pages! It was a long process. It doesn't matter what I think about it, it matters what the people that have read it think."

Are you glad then to have got it out there in the public domain?
"I don't know if glad is the right word. I'd have happily stayed private, but it's been nice to meet some of the supporters from the old days. It's been really heart-warming that the people out there remember me. The Manchester United supporters are fantastic."

One of the subjects you focus on greatly is United's failure to build upon their 1968 European Cup success following your arrival. You seem to blame the managerial appointment of Wilf McGuinness in 1969 as a major reason behind the failings, is that a fair assumption?
"Without a doubt. The team was in a process and Matt would have probably changed a few because some of the players were coming towards the end of their careers in fairness. Wilf came in and just wanted to destroy the whole team and nearly did. He was a major part of the downfall.

"If he had have done it in transition and one at a time, getting rid of the players that might have needed replacing, he would have been fine, but he didn't. He made an overall sweep of the team. In fact, when he was sacked, the next game was Liverpool and Matt made seven or nine changes. That tells you all you need to know. Wilf wasn't the right man. [Appointing from within the club] was the right idea, but he wasn't the right man."

Willie Morgan in action for Manchester United.

You also describe United as the right club for you, but perhaps at the wrong time. A number of clubs were heavily interested in you in 1968, including Leeds United and Celtic. Do you regret signing for United?
"I was going to go to Leeds and could have gone back to Celtic. Leeds were a great team at the time, but I have no regrets. I joined the right club, despite some of the problems with the team for some of the years that I was there. It is a great club, the supporters are and were fantastic and it is part of my life now."

"You obviously played with some of the biggest names that have ever played the game at Old Trafford, but who was the best?
"There wasn't too many weak links - we were all good. The forward line was myself, Law, Charlton, Brian Kidd and Best. Then you've got Nobby Stiles and Paddy Crerand. Tonny Dunne was one of the best left-backs of all-time and Alex Stepney was a fantastic goalkeeper. It was magical to walk out at Old Trafford. The atmosphere was phenomenal and when you went away from home it was like a tavern circus, it was incredible wherever we went. Burnley were a great team when I was there, but you didn't get the adulation that United got. Manchester United is a magical name and it was great to be part of it."

In the book you say that David Moyes would not have been your number one choice to replace Sir Alex Ferguson. Who would you have picked?
"My choice would have been Jose Mourinho. Some people would argue that he would have only stayed for two or three years, but he would have stayed much longer once the club was in his heart. He is the best manager out there and that's why I would have picked him. Now that David Moyes is there, I hope that he proves me and other doubters wrong and becomes very successful. As United supporters, that's what you wish. I hope I'm wrong."

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho takes his seat at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013© Getty Images

Do you see any similarities in Moyes taking over from Ferguson to McGuinness replacing Busby. Obviously Moyes has plenty of experience, unlike McGuinness, but is the job maybe too big for him?
"It's a completely different scenario. I wouldn't say that it is too big for Moyes, but he's not won anything. We are talking about the biggest club in the world. You would have thought that you would have been looking for someone with a proven record, like Mourinho. Everywhere he goes, he wins. His record is phenomenal because he's not only done it at one club. As the biggest club in the world, you should be looking to appoint the best manager in the world."

United are famed for producing and signing some talented wingers. Yourself, Best, Gordon Hill, Steve Coppell, Lee Sharpe, Andrei Kanchelskis, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo - the list is long. How does the current crop of Ashley Young, Nani, Antonio Valencia and Adnan Januzaj compare to the wingers of yesteryear?
"They are not in the same league, apart from Januzaj, who has a real chance of being a great player. The way he does things his a throw-back to my era. He could become one of the greats because he has that ability. Obviously time will tell, but I hope he can progress. He'd be in my team without doubt.

"I'd also play Valencia out of the rest we have. Him and Januzaj are by far and away the best two wingers at the club. With Valencia, you know what you are going to get. He will give 100% and although he's not the greatest player in the world, I like what he does and how he does it. I'm sure that his teammates like that as well. If it was me, as manager of Man United, the others wouldn't be there. They just wouldn't be in my plans."

'On the Wing' can be purchased by copying and pasting this address into your seach bar:

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