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Fergie: We Finally Have A Class Of 96 Repeat

There are several phrases that get brought up time and again in football. “They think it’s all… it is now” is the most famous of these, whilst “…and Solskjaer has won it!” means the most to United fans.

But a quote that is mentioned time and again for the wrong reasons in Alan Hansen’s “you’ll never win anything with kids”, after watching United lose their opening game of the season to Aston Villa. Come May, he was left with egg on his face.

Since the likes of David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers broke in to the team, winning the Double in their first season, we haven’t been able to provide such a wealth of talent again.

Wes Brown, Darren Fletcher and John O’Shea are the longest serving players in the generations of youth team players that has followed, whilst other products of our youth team are dotted all around the Premiership.

The fact is, the players that emerge from our youth team have had an impossible act to follow. To have so many English lads come up through the ranks in one year, who are of the quality of those players who came through in 1996, is a pretty much impossible feat. Yet our youth team products will always be compared to them, giving them an unfair disadvantage.

However, Ferguson reckons our recent batch of youngsters is the best we’ve had in 15 years.

“We’ve got a group of young players who are doing very well and showing fantastic potential,” said Ferguson. “Rafael Da Silva, his brother Fabio, Rodrigo Possebon, Darron Gibson, Jonny Evans and Danny Welbeck are the type of youngsters we’ve always tried to have here in the last 15 years or so. They can take over from the younger lads in the squad who will move into the middle-age section and they, in time, become the older players. That’s what you call managing change.”

Ferguson singled out Johnny Evans, who has seriously been considering a move away from United, and Rafael Da Silva, whose brother is currently out injured, for special praise.

“Evans will be a future United centre-half, there’s no question about that,” Ferguson added. “He’s 20-years-old and in a few years time his career is absolutely guaranteed. Young Rafael is an outstanding talent. He proved that against Aalborg. He’s an attacking player with great belief in himself.”

Do United finally have another group of youngsters who will cut it as first team starters in the next few years?

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. Stephen says:

    All the lads mentioned have superb ability, lets hope they have the attitude which the class of 96 had. Beckham has captained England and us, Gary should have been England captain and is obviously ours now, Phil is Evertons and Butt I think is vice captain at Newcatle and Scholes, well doesn’t even have and agent is hated interviews but is a really strong character.
    Ability only gets you you so far, look at Collymore, Gazza and Fowler(shit cunt) but all had the ability and no strength of character, lets hope this batch does because they certainly have the ability.

  2. suhayl says:

    Possebon and the brazilian nevilles are recent aquistions..( last year or two 06-08). However SAF is right…i think added with petrucci….we have some tasty talented youngsters coming trough the ranks. Good to see.

    Upto them now to push for first team chances

  3. elliot says:

    I can see our future team looking like this

    GK: Foster/Amos
    RB:R.Da Silva
    LB:F.Da Silva



    can anyone name better?

  4. Mic says:

    I think they have great potential, I really hope they stay injury free and continue their development as the sky is the limit for them, such great prospects and with Rafael, I can see him going really far so long as he learns to defend but that’ll come with age hopefully.

  5. failsworth devil says:


    We are cherry picking the best players from all continents and developing home grown..

    If 80% of these players develop the way there potential shows, then we are gonna have one hell of a team.

  6. Sam says:

    Elliot given that gray is a right back/wing back i doubt he ll be our future cb,i would put cathcart there. For goal its zieler in place of amos, For our forward line have brandy in place of campbell since given our current squad he may end up being sold. Otherwise i hope we can unearth another bestie since our academy doesnt seem to have brilliant wingers.
    All in all the sad thing is once saf leaves the new manager might not give the youth a chance

  7. denton davey says:

    Elliot – impossible to predict the “future first team” AND don’t forget that Anderson, Rooney, Ronaldo, Nani and even Tevez aren’t much older than these kids.

  8. Daniel says:

    Cathcart anyone? He could definitely pair with Evans to create a solid back line.

  9. hunts says:

    elliot, cathcart over gray and drinkwater over galbraith, drinkwater is a terrific prospect. whoever said zieler over amos, amos is higher rated within the club and was first choice in the youth team over zieler.

  10. Dromarared says:

    I would like to see Cathcart and Evans as centre backs. With playing at man U every week NI might actually win something. Don’t forget our other prospect Johnny Evans’ younger brother Corrie is quite good and don’t count out Macheda!

  11. North Stand,Tier 3,Back Row says:

    That photo warms my heart. That picture will be on the walls in the Old Trafford museum in 50 years, and fans will marvel at such a crop of quality. It has its place along pictures of Best, Charlton, Edwards, Taylor.
    Thats what Manchester United is all about. Hopefully this current crop can get somewhere near achieving what those lads above did. Glory Glory…

  12. steve says:

    how can they be like the class of 96 when they are foregn players, if they were from the UK then we can compare them with the likes of the nevilles scholes butt beckham giggs.

  13. Marvsharpe says:

    There’s no doubt that those players mentioned are our new crop, and it’s about time. We haven’t produced quality youngsters since that 96 class. I don’t really rate O’Shea, Fletcher or Brown in the same class as Giggs, Beckham, Scholes etc…

    For me though, it’s not quite as sweet as the class of 96 because a few of those youngsters have been bought and have come to United already being young men. Still, the futures looking good.

  14. Phil says:

    When you add to your team those youngsters in the first team squad today it will be very impressive in a coiuple of years, not to mention one or 2 world class additions.


    Fergusons succession planning is exceptional, cant think of anyone who can come close to mixing youth and experience in the first 11 with such effect.
    Wenger i have utmost respect for however, wondeful youngsters he may find, blending with experience he hasnt done so well. trohies are there for all to compare.

    Looking to the future we will really struggle to find a successor. In my mind the only canidadte is Martin O neal (MON). What he has achived at Villa is impressive. similar to fergie, the blend of youth and experience has seen him climb the table. his signings have been first class. other than MON, not sure who has the credentials to carry the traditions of the club to the next level – the next level being consistent sucess in the champions league. tactically MON is possibly stronger than fergie.

    taking Celtic to a euro final is damn impressive, and i am sure Villa despite the hard group the are in will do well in the Uefa this season.

  15. ManUnited18 says:

    well done mate

    about the goalkeeper no fear and i think United will solve the England proplems in the goal keeper wid 3 fantastic golas keeper
    Ben foster , heaton , ben Amos in addittion 2 the German Zeler

    cathcart.(on loan) , eckersley , evanz , gray .(C). , simpson.( on loan) and Da silvas twins its the Future of the Defence in United so no fear 2 in the defence

    Gibson , Corry Evans , Magnus Wolff Eikrem , possibon , Daniel Galbraith , Matthew James , Sam Hewson , cleverly , lee marten.(on loan) , drinkwater and James Derbyshire

    as for the Attack line i think we have one of the best in the English Acadmies

    Campell.(on loan) , Wellbac , brandy , antonio bryan , federico macheda and Petrucci


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