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Sir Alex “We must either use them or we lose them”

It only seems like yesterday but it has been all of 15 years since former Liverpool star and BBC football pundit Alan Hansen coined his memorable phrase “You’ll never win anything with kids” following Manchester United’s 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa on the opening day of the 1995-96 campaign. Those “kids” of course went on to win the double by the end of that season forcing the unfortunate Hansen to forever be stuck with those words.

His comment was in reference to the fact that Sir Alex Ferguson had just sold the experienced Paul Ince, Mark Hughes and Andrei Kanchelskis that summer and introduced several youth team players including Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Nicky Butt and Gary Neville into the first team.

Well it now looks certain that Ferguson is about to unleash another group of youngsters onto the Premier League insisting that their emergence will give him a stronger squad than the one which came to within a whisker of taking the title last season. There are many critics who doubt his judgment including United fans who believe that the huge debts forced on the club by the Glazers has prevented the acquisition of badly needed reinforcements.

Sir Alex sees it differently because he has complete faith in a proven system where managing the careers of young players in order to keep them at the club is paramount. “The history of Manchester United is quite simple” he says proudly “it has always been based on young people and that’s where we’re more comfortable. I think our fans are more comfortable too. So producing players is a big incentive for us. We know the response we get from supporters when we produce a player through the ranks, through our youth system. It’s a fantastically satisfying thing also.”

“At the moment we have a collection of young players who have been growing up at the club for the last few years like Danny Welbeck, Jonny Evans, Darron Gibson and Federico Macheda. These young players are developing very well at the club, some players are coming through like young Oliver Gill and young Corry, Jonny Evans’ brother.”

Ferguson then goes on to make the point that “We’ve a fine collection of young players who if you don’t give them an opportunity they’re going to stagnate and move to other clubs who’ll get the benefit of the work we’ve done with them. We’ve had experience of that in the past” he remembers “so we try to avoid that as best we can and make sure we make the right decisions about these boys’ careers, because most of them are very good talented players.”

The manager has no doubt that the US tour will be a good test for these players. They will be trying to make an impact before those who took part in the World Cup link up with the team back in England. Ferguson shrugged off any concerns about Wayne Rooney’s disappointing form in South Africa and is confident he will soon shake off the frustration of his World Cup performance.

“I don’t expect a hangover. I think there’ll still be a bit of disappointment in the lad. I think all the players coming back from the World Cup who didn’t do well, who didn’t reach their expectations may I say, will feel that they’ve missed something” he said “that’s because the World Cup’s only once every four years. That’s the horrible part of that tournament. We have several players who have come back very, very disappointed. We’ve Patrice Evra for instance, Wayne Rooney of course, and Nemanja Vidic.”

Sir Alex does have someone coming back from South Africa full of confidence however “I think one player who will come back quite positive because he had a good World Cup is young Javier Hernandez from Mexico. I think he did very well and he surprised a lot of people” he said ”so whereas we’ve got some disappointments from players like Wayne, Nemanja and Patrice, I think we’re going to have a positive effect from Javier.”

There’s one certainty that can be guaranteed at the beginning of the new season, all the football pundits will choose their words very carefully should Ferguson’s youngsters happen to suffer one or two early defeats.

Is Ferguson being wise placing so much faith in his youngsters?


No Responses to “Sir Alex “We must either use them or we lose them””

  1. joseph says:

    Are the youths that Alex is planing to use up to the task in resent years they have won nothing at youth level and finishing behind the likes of Arsenal,Liverpool and Chelsea.

  2. Charlie says:

    I hope the fact he has not mentioned Tom Cleverly means he will let him go as I think he is the business and who ever snaps him up will have a great player on their hands. I’d love to see him at Newcastle playing on the wings on in central midfield

  3. Frank says:

    I can understand the reasoning behind your question Joseph but as difficult as it can be at times, the slogan on the back of the club badge on the new playing strip says it all – BELIEVE

  4. elvido says:

    I think irrelevant of the Glazer issue, we should bring in more youngsters from the academy. It works for the club on a lot of levels, keeps the youth system alive, save on the transfer budget, satisfy the quota system and have a roster of players who have the club built into them. Whether they are good enough is theoretical until they are given chances.

  5. Tom says:

    I definitely think we should blood in youngsters as we have done in the past but we have to remember that Scholesy/Becks/Giggs etc was a golden generation that won’t come around too often. A nice mix of youth and experience would be ideal… and a creative midfielder in the vein of Ozil 🙂

  6. Surely the example of Gerard Pique illustrates the point about giving the youngsters their chance. 12 months after United reserves he is a World Cup winner
    and was very impressive.

  7. Scrimper says:

    There’s one certainty that can be guaranteed at the beginning of the new season, all the football pundits will choose their words very carefully should Ferguson’s youngsters happen to suffer one or two early defeats.


    So what you’re saying is, based on Alan Hansen’s daft comment 15 years ago, if United field a team of kids which happens to lose a few of their opening games, they’ll go on to win the league.


    Allow me to beg to differ. United had some pretty good older players still on their books circa 1996, that’s not taking anything away from the kids who proved so invaluable to your success. I’m merely pointing out that Keane, Cantona, Schmiecel(?), Irwin and others were just as important to that team’s success as the kids you seem to think this new batch of youngsters are ready to emulate. This is the biggest “fingers crossed and let’s hope everything goes well” season United have had for a long time so you can talk up the youths all you want but the fact is there’s huge uncertainty hanging over United both on and off the field and one is obviously affecting the other.

  8. Frank Scicluna says:

    You make some fair points Scrimper but no, I’m not saying that United will go on and win the League if they lose a few of their opening games. All I’m saying is that commentators like Alan Hansen will not shoot their mouths off so quickly again.

    As for the quality of youngsters coming through at Old Trafford, it’s not me who is “talking them up” but Sir Alex Ferguson and I value his judgement more than any other manager in the Premier League because he has been there and done it.

    By the way, every single club has the attitude of “fingers crossed and let’s hope everything goes well” prior to a new season kicking off, including whichever club you support.

  9. Scrimper says:

    I didn’t say that it was only United that has the “fingers crossed” attitude, I said that this season is the biggest “fingers crossed” season United have had for years.

    There is real uncertainty filtering through from all areas, players, management, fans and even kit makers (what on earth are they hoping to acheive by stitching “BELIEVE” to the inside of the badge?!!!!). Confidence levels are not as high as they have been previously and for the first time in many many years, there is a real feeling that United might not finish in the top 2.



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