WE all remember Alan Hansen’s words on that Saturday night football programme, years ago – something about not winning and kids. He was talking after United’s fresh faced young side had been well beaten by Aston Villa, and judged on that performance alone it seemed a fair comment to everyone. Of course, Mr Hansen had grossly under estimated the quality of the ‘kids’ he had seen. They of course went on to do quite well for themselves, and United fans have taunted Alan Hansen for that comment ever since.
That time has gone, those ‘kids’ turned into the back bone of our team and it is generally agreed that we will never see the like of that again, where a number of talented youngsters all come through to the first team at the same time. Kids that were enough for Alex Ferguson not to even consider the buy back clause he had for Paul Ince when the self styled ‘Guv’nor’ looked to return to England from Italy. He had Nicky Butt, why did he need to go backwards?
The Carling Cup is a good show case for the club’s youngsters in Sir Alex Ferguson’s eyes. He of course played Paul Scholes and others against Port Vale over a decade ago, 13 years to be exact. I didn’t realise it had been that long, time flies!
He was going to play the kids against Port Vale and I remember reading that others felt it would devalue the competition and show disrespect to the opposition. It wasn’t like that for the manager though, it wasn’t even so much about resting the players, it was more about showing what United had for the future. Paul Scholes’ two goals on his debut was enough to repay the faith the manager had shown.
Fast forward to this season and most of the big teams in the league take the same opportunity to showcase their youngsters, their future. I think it is acceptable practice now to do so, and it is not seen as a huge sign of disrespect as many worried it was years ago.
The opinions I heard about this approach were mixed. After all, if Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez needed games together, surely a run out against Coventry would have been a plus for them? Some also wanted for once to see us play the big guns and absolutely roast the opposition, something which hadn’t happened much so far this season. It is also important to remember that this current flock of United ‘fledglings’ have excited the manager so he would have believed that the team he put out on Wednesday was completely capable of beating Coventry.
He may well still think that they could do well, they may well go on to do great things. Wednesday night’s embarrassment against Coventry could have been their own Villa Park nightmare start.
Maybe we shouldn’t write the kids off so soon, maybe we will be guilty of judging the players too quickly as Alan Hansen had done years ago.
Wednesday night was a disgrace, Wednesday night was an embarrassment – sadly it’s not the first time it has turned out like that – I was at York City when they beat us, now that was bad. On Wednesday night, Coventry City ran for every ball and challenged every fifty-fifty and they absolutely deserved their victory. It should have been more, they had an attempt shortly after their first goal, with a great flick onto the bar. I was glad it stayed out but if it had found the back of the net, I wouldn’t have been surprised.
Anderson, Nani, O’Shea and Kuszczak are hardly unknown and they will all have better games, I hope. We have seen players like Chris Eagles before, in the first team and he has impressed me but he didn’t on Wednesday night. Maybe the lad was helped by the fact he was playing with first team quality players on previous run-outs, whereas against Coventry there were many younger untried players all in the same boat, all raw, trying to make an impression.
It was un-realistic to expect the current ‘kids’ to make the kind of impact that previous generations have, because you can’t go back and if you try it fails. I’m quite willing to believe it’s not all doom and gloom and that when we see Eagles, or Bardsley get a first team run out some other time, they will impress. I do hope Chris gets his ‘Eagles Soares’ headlines that you know people are just itching to use in connection with his football displays.
I’m not ready to accept Wednesday night’s performance because it was only the Carling Cup. This was our club’s chance to show others that we have a lot of quality in reserve, and we certainly didn’t show that.
The all round play was nervous, the passing was okay at times but I got the feeling that they tried to make one extra pass, one that would inevitably go to waste and lead to frustration for the players and the crowd. At the end of the day, people complained against Port Vale and then they saw the crop of players play together and the doubters were silenced. No-one minded him fielding the youngsters because they were good enough to win.
The youngsters from Wednesday night were not but he had to take the chance and he will continue to do so. A baptism of fire for the current crop, and something that will be hard to recover from, but if they are good enough rest assured they will wear a first team red shirt again. If they are not, the red they will wear may well be that of Crewe Alexandra after 2 years on loan to Royal Antwerp.
When I was just a little red, I asked Sir Alex who could I be?
Will I be Savage or will I be Beckham, here’s what he said to me.
Wash your mouth out lad, you could never be Savage bad
You may never be Beckham goodBut believe that you could!