When Alan Hansen famously said in 1995 ‘You’ll win nothing with kids’ Manchester United made the former Liverpool legend eat his words by going on to win the League and Cup double with a team of youngsters that included David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and the Neville brother Gary and Phil.
Sixteen years later Sir Alex Ferguson is threatening to prove him wrong all over again with another crop of outstanding youngsters that could dominate the Premier League for years to come.
Pundits have always argued that United could never again emulate the Boys of 92 who won the FA Youth Cup and laid the foundations for Fergie’s incredible dynasty that is now in its 25th year. But just when the noisy neighbours across the City are threatening to turn wealth into trophies and challenge United’s supremacy, along comes another crop of kids with all the right credentials.
United’s starting X1 in last night’s 3-0 thumping of Tottenham was the second youngest side the Red Devils have fielded in the Premier League, with an average age of only 23 years and one month. Only skipper Patrice Evra was over 30 – and the rest were younger than Ashley Young, 26, and Wayne Rooney who is still only 25.
There has been a proud tradition of giving youth its chance at Old Trafford ever since the Busby Babes back in the 50s. And Fergie, obsessed with tradition, will take great pleasure from last night’s spectacular coming of age of Danny Welbeck (aged 20), Tom Cleverley (22), Chris Smalling (21), Phil Jones (19) and a clean sheet for David de Gea (20).
Six of United’s starting line-up were English last night and that can only be good news for the national team too. Meanwhile, it is going to be fascinating to see the kids growing up at The Theatre of Dreams.