The mainstays of Busby’s first XI – Johnny Carey, Allenby Chilton, Henry Cockburn, Jack Rowley and Stan Pearson – were in their thirties and while their experience was invaluable, youth was needed to push the Reds to the top step of the podium.
The boss made a vital summer capture in Johnny Berry, a livewire 25-year-old winger from Birmingham City, while Roger Byrne, a promising full-back from the youth team waited for his chance. With ‘Gunner’ Rowley in rapid-fire mode, United made a fine, free-scoring start to the season. Rowley bagged an amazing 14 goals in the first seven games, including three hat-tricks, as the Reds kept with early pace-setters Portsmouth, Bolton and Aston Villa. However, five defeats in nine games dropped us down to seventh place as December rolled around. The festive season revived our scoring touch, though – 20 goals that month earned six wins out of seven – and we were top by New Year.