Talking Devils Podcast : Tommy Docherty

The first episode of the Talking Devils podcast is a very special episode indeed.

It is a feature interview from 2015 with former Manchester United manager Tommy Docherty which I undertook between books.

Tommy had helped me with my book “74/75” which was released earlier in the year and I was fortunate enough to have this interview, which was not for a book, but features plenty of fascinating insight. Who knows, some of it might end up in one of my books one day, if I’m lucky enough to continue to have them published.

Docherty took control at Old Trafford in December 1972 and was sacked in July 1977. The time in-between was pretty eventful – relegation in 1974, promotion in 1975 and the FA Cup in 1977. In this spell, “The Doc” created one of the most well-loved sides in the club’s history.

If you have heard Tommy talk before then you probably haven’t heard him talk like this.

Docherty is known for his after-dinner routine which he has perfected to be able to recite it in his sleep – and he probably does – but rarely is he as straight-forward and detailed about the mechanics of what made his team so great.

Some highlights from this conversation :

On the biggest quality he wanted from his goalkeeper : “Coming for crosses. The most important quality is knowing when to leave your line and when not to… then when you have the ball safely in your hands, distribution is very important.”

On the composition of his central defence : “You normally have a stopper and a sweeper…. it turned out we had two sweepers… but they complemented each other.”

On the famous pair of Coppell and Hill : “I was brought up on wingers at Preston. I fell in love with wingers, even as a defender. I loved them to be quick and to deliver the ball with speed… I always played with shorter forwards, and Tommy Cavanagh would say to the wingers in training, ‘Violence!’”

On the decision to play so many attack-minded players in his team : “It could have been a risk. But that was how we played and how we wanted to play. We dictated the pace of the game… When we cleared the ball we all went out from the back. Ten players on the attack.”

If you were a supporter of his teams this is a must-listen for purposes of nostalgia – if you weren’t, the education is fantastic.

The podcast will shortly be available on all major podcast providers. For now, it is available on Spotify, Anchor and PocketCasts.

Wayne Barton

Wayne is a writer and producer. His numerous books on Manchester United include the authorised biography of Jimmy Murphy. He wrote and produced the BT Sport film 'Too Good To Go Down'. In 2015 he was described by the Independent as the 'leading writer on Manchester United' and former club chairman Martin Edwards has described him as 'the pre-eminent writer on the club'.

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