The United Way is a cinematic docu-film following the rise of one of the most iconic sporting dynasties the world has ever seen, Manchester United Football Club. The United Way is available to watch on Sky Documentaries from 24th May.
First and foremost, I should admit that I am a huge Manchester United fan, so watching The United Way was certainly more of a delight to watch than a chore! I’ve followed Manchester United for the best part of 24 years and have a good understanding of the history and tradition of the club, but I was eager to learn more about clubs’ humble beginnings and rise to the top.
The docu-film follows the football club from a post-war Britain, through to the treble winning season of 98/99. I was surprised and a little disappointed that the documentary only focused on this 50-year period, particularly considering the rich history of the club from when it was initially founded back in 1878 as Newton Heath Football Club. Likewise, I was disappointed that the documentary stopped at the 1998/1999 season, given the development and growth of the club over the past 20 or so years.
That being said, the documentary focuses on the Busby years, the early Ferguson years and the period in between! The Munich air disaster in 1958 is something that all football fans are well aware of, but I never really knew too much about the team prior to the disaster. The documentary does a fantastic job at providing an insight to the Busy babes and I was really impressed with some of the never before seen footage within the documentary. There are interviews with flight attendants from the Munich flight, interviews with locals shortly after the tragedy and even interviews with Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham.
There are also some fantastic interviews with a number of former players too, including the likes of David Beckham, Andy Cole and Peter Schmeichel. I was particularly fascinated with the interviews from some of the older former players including Bryan Robson and Gordon Strachan and learning about just how different football was some 30/40 years ago. There’s also a number of humorous anecdotes during the credits from former players which is a nice touch too.
The documentary is narrated by Eric Cantona and as much I love his character and flamboyant personality, to have him dramatically narrate on the Busby Babes era just feels a bit odd. It’s great hearing from him, particularly on his relationship with the club, but at times the documentary feels like a combination of a Manchester United come Eric Cantona story.
The documentary features a number of never before seen clips as well as some absolute classics footballing clips from the archives. I was awed by some of the clips of George Best and Eric Cantona and the interviews intertwining with football clips do a great job at keeping the documentary exciting as well as educational.
Although only focusing on Manchester United from the 1950’s through to the 1998/1999 season, The United Way is a fascinating insight into the spectacular rise of an iconic sporting dynasty.