There’s no other way to spin this: Manchester United offered to buy Liam Brady’s mother a washing machine if her son would sign for the club, writes Liam Mackey.
The Irish football legend made the revelation at the announcement yesterday United will play one of Brady’s former clubs, Italian Serie A side Sampdoria, in a friendly at the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday, August 2.
“I nearly went to Manchester United as a kid,” said Brady, recalling the chase for the then highly-rated 15-year-old Dubliner’s signature back in 1971.
“The reason I didn’t go was because Arsenal got in before them. The scout here in Ireland was a guy called Billy Behan. Because I was a Manchester United fan he thought I was nailed on.
“Then I went to London and Arsenal liked me and they looked after me.
“Manchester United actually offered my mother a washing machine for me to go there. But my mind was made up and a washing machine wasn’t going to change it.”
His mother did try to do just that, however.
“She actually did,” Brady smiled. “Now a kid gets a house and a car and his father gets a job for life.”
On the subject of modern megabuck deals, the Arsenal icon also confirmed Arsene Wenger was convinced he had landed Luis Suarez for the Gunners four years ago. (Wenger has since claimed Suarez had verbally agreed to move from Liverpool to Arsenal in 2013, after the Gunners infamously tabled a bid of £40,000,000 plus £1, based on the misleading information there was a release clause of £40 million in the player’s contract at Anfield. “He (Wenger) actually told me Suarez would be arriving in the next couple of weeks and it didn’t happen,” Brady revealed.
“Things like that, if we’re going to be competitive, those things (have to be) put right. It could have made all the difference. There are not many centre-forwards like him around, if any.”
Despite the mounting criticism which has come Wenger’s way this season, Brady said he remains “well and truly” in the manager’s camp and would be happy to see him stay on at Arsenal.
“Twenty years of how he’s managed the club shouldn’t be discarded because of the fact they haven’t qualified for the Champions League,” he said.
Brady also reckons that, given the circumstances, stakes are particularly high for all concerned in Saturday’s FA Cup final.
“Chelsea will want to do the double which would be a tremendous feat,” he said. “That alone will make it huge. Arsenal, if we win, the season won’t look as bad as it does now. If we can win it, Wenger will become the manager that has won the Cup the most times ever and Arsenal will become the club which has won the Cup the most times ever. So it’s a huge match in that respect.”
Gary Pallister, who in his role as an ambassador for Manchester United, also attended yesterday’s event at the Aviva, said he thought that victory in tomorrow night’s Europa League final against Ajax could, like United’s 1991 Cup-Winner’s Cup triumph, act as a springboard for further success at the club.
“Winning trophies does give you that shot in the arm, does give you that belief, does give you that feeling in the dressing room that you want to do it again,” he said.
“That ‘91 final lives on in my memory. The game itself, against a great Barcelona side. The night, the partying that we did afterwards.....
“It all lives long in the memory. And you want to get a taste of that more and more. It was a gradual thing back in them days: an FA Cup followed by a Cup-Winners’ Cup, followed by a title. So each year, it was winning something. And that motivates and excites the dressing room and helps take you to the next level.
“I think Jose Mourinho will be active in the transfer market this summer. He’s had a year to look at players and decide what he needs in his squad.
“I don’t think there’ll be any problem with chasing the targets down that he wants. He’s obviously got good contacts and seems to get what he wants most of the time.
“He’ll be probably a lot happier a year on with the squad he’ll have.”
Tickets for Man Utd v Sampdoria at the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday, August 2 (kick-off 7.45pm) will go on sale via Ticketmaster from this Friday, May 26, at 11am.
This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.