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New decade, new era for Manchester United, but what exactly will the future hold for the next generation?

July 23, 2010

Danny Welbeck is one of the many bright talents looking to make the breakthrough into the United first team

With another season on the horizon, and teams up and down the country gearing up for what they hope will be a successful season in their respective divisions, I investigate whether Manchester United’s dominance in the Premier League in the last decade is at risk with a number of ageing stars reaching the end of their tether.

Manchester United’s success since England’s top division was re-branded the Premier League has been in no small part down to the contributions of the generation that produced Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville. Arguably, the introduction of Giggs was the kickstart for what would be a remarkable period in the history of Manchester United. Upon Giggs’ breakthrough from the youth ranks in 1990, and having not won a major trophy since Sir Alex Ferguson’s appointment in 1986, United started to turn the table. Not only had United not won anything since lifting the FA Cup in ’86, but Sir Alex’s search for a left winger since Jesper Olsen departed in ’88 had been more difficult than he would have hoped. The impact Giggs was to have, therefore, was more significant than it may seem. He came into a side during a barren spell of success as United’s big hope and a player that would be expected to play a part in regaining United’s status as a major force in English football.

At the very same time, Paul Scholes was still making his way through the various ranks at youth team level, before joining United as a trainee in 1991. He didn’t turn professional until 1993, and with United now back to their customary winning ways, he found it difficult to emerge as a recognised first team player. Indeed, it took him the best part of a season to force his way into Sir Alex’s plans, and he made a long-awaited debut in a 2-1 victory over Port Vale in a League Cup encounter in September 1994. He also managed to play a small part in the FA Cup final that very same season, coming off the bench against Everton in a match United lost 1-0. However, thanks to the departure of Mark Hughes who made the much disdained move to Chelsea, Scholes was to make his first impact as a United player the next season.

Whereas Giggs was responsible for catalysing a new era of success at Old Trafford during the early 1990’s, one may say that Scholes consolidated and supported that position. Together, Giggs and Scholes developed a partnership that would prove to make up one of the greatest midfield combinations, certainly in Premier League history. Of course, Roy Keane and David Beckham were the two other pieces that slotted into that particular jigsaw.

Over a decade on from the early days of Giggs and Scholes and United are farming through a new generation of starlets. However, as the Premier League continues to grow in stature and with competition amongst clubs as fierce as ever, can United’s new breed be as effective and influential as Messrs. Giggs and Scholes were in the ’90’s?

We have seen a glimpse of what United’s youngsters have to offer, with brief cameos from players such as Federico Macheda and Danny Welbeck in the last 12 to 18 months. There is quite obviously a great deal of talent there, something that can be developed and matured through the transition into the first team. What the aforementioned names and their teenage counterparts have in their favour is the opportunity to learn from the likes of Scholes, Giggs, and Gary Neville, something that generally speeds up the maturing process. Whilst that trio of United greats is nearing the end of their respective careers and beginning to think about what comes next, their value and influence on the team today is still vital in ensuring United’s transition into a new era is as smooth and positive as possible. Very often, sports teams fail to inhabit change correctly, and it is extremely easy to fall down the ladder and drop into the sporting abyss for the next 20 to 30 years. A perfect example of that would be the West Indian cricket team, who are a shadow of the force they were in the mid-20th century when superstars such as Sir Garfield Sobers and Sir Viv Richards were gracing the cricket scene.

The difference between the change of today and the change of yesteryear is the success that United have experienced inbetween. As I mentioned, when Ryan Giggs began his blossoming United career 19 years ago, the shelves in the Old Trafford trophy cabinets have become a little dusty. Now, trophies arrive at the Theatre of Dreams as regularly as Wayne Rooney appears on the back page of the tabloids. The challenge for Danny Welbeck and co. is to slot into a fully functioning unit and ensure that the process of winning trophies and challenging for the title is not halted. Unfortunately for United, Sir Alex Ferguson is also reaching the end of his journey as the longest-serving United manager in history, and being one of the world’s greatest man-managers and tacticians, the men behind the scenes will have one hell of a job on their hands to find a replacement capable of carrying on the work that Fergie leaves behind. However, being Manchester United, you can’t help but feel that they simply will find that man.

The modern way is to send your young guns out on loan to clubs in a lower division, in order to give them the chance to experience what competitive first team football is all about. It’s all very well turning out for the reserves and youth teams week in week out, but there’s no substitute for the real thing. Fergie has recently said that he would like Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley to get some first team action under their belts, and you can’t think it will be too long before a Championship club comes calling for their ability.

Many of United’s Premier League counterparts can only look on in awe at the talent of some of the players they hold in their academy sides, but sometimes talent alone isn’t good enough. Being a Liverpool fan I will be very interested to see how United cope through their transition in the next 4 or 5 years, whether those players dubbed the next Rooney and the next Giggs can become exactly that, or if the weight of expectation and challenge of the ever-progressing Premier League will be too much for them to handle. Of course, every side in the world has to go through periods like this, and some will be more successful than others. Being the club that they are, you have to feel that Manchester United’s progression in the next few years will be more successful than others, and whilst it’s easy for me to say that there may be a few stumbling blocks along the way, history suggests that United will do just fine, and those stumbling blocks will prove to be nothing more than the inevitable learning curve that every player experiences in their career.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 25, 2010 8:23 pm

    Manchester United can’t win 2010-2011 season,they have a little problem in lineup and
    some players are lose their best abilities.

  2. Rite$h permalink
    July 26, 2010 6:56 pm

    The new generation will more likely spend the time on loan in lower division clubs (or in the premier league lower table clubs if they are lucky) and then one day we’ll hear they have been sold :D and Giggs and Scholes no longer have the legs of their 20’s to lead the team as they did in the glorious past…

    The golden age for MUFC is about to end this season, and do not be surprised to see M.City and even Arsenal may be end up above them as the club is in an internal crisis, which started from last season itself with the gold & green protests…

  3. number7 permalink
    September 19, 2010 7:59 am

    Whenever we go a year or two without the league or fa cup they always say we are in decline.fuck off………

    Same shit different year. why don’t’ your write liverpool decline for 20 years without winning a premiership title or arsenal trophyless for 5 years, they are in worse decline, piss off stupid journalists…..

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