The greatest football story ever told - Class Acts
As part of the build-up to Tour 2015, presented by Aon, we're reflecting on some of the most important and unforgettable times in the Reds’ history - something we believe to be the greatest football story ever told. We'll also be hearing from some of the key personalities who have helped create that story. In chapter eight of our series, the focus is on United's skilled group of youngsters who came through in the famous Class of '92 and, in the video above, Ryan Giggs looks back at the success enjoyed by the team.
For a club so renowned as producers of young, homegrown talent, it was no surprise in the early 1990s for Manchester United to be sweeping the honours board at youth team level. However, rather than raise one or two outstanding individuals, the Reds’ production line had actually churned out a team of players who would grow together to become among the most eminent in their generation; a freakish coincidence of several gifted, driven young friends rising to stardom together.
One of the first conclusions Alex Ferguson made upon taking charge at Old Trafford was that the club’s youth scouting system needed an extensive overhaul. Tasking former Reds star Brian Kidd with recruiting the country’s best prodigious talents, Ferguson watched on as his ranks gradually swelled with a truly special crop. Under the tutelage of youth team manager Eric Harrison was assembled an under-18s team which would change football.
Far beyond attaining the highly coveted FA Youth Cup in 1992, the Class of ’92, as they became known, spawned several international footballers, including Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Gary Neville. Followed along the line by Gary’s younger brother Phil, who captained the Reds to the 1995 Youth Cup, the sextuple of dyed-in-the-wool United fans rose through the ranks as one.
Perfect timing meant the youngsters were able to learn the ropes just at the point that Eric Cantona’s arrival and unique training methods irreversibly altered the way in which the squad prepared for matches. Just as sustained success returned to Old Trafford, with the FA Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup preceding the end of the club’s 26-year wait to be league champions, Ferguson’s awesome squad was driven by the prospect of the gifted young upstarts straining for senior involvement.
The 'Class of '92', as told by Ryan Giggs…
Posted by Manchester United on Saturday, June 27, 2015
“All the players knew about the young lads coming through,” recalled goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel. “After we’d finished training we used to watch them play their games, so we knew just how good they were going to be.” The senior pros would soon be referring to the youngsters as their colleagues, as one by one they began to impact on the first team squad. At the end of the 1994/95 season, by which point all six had made their debuts, the Class of ’92 were given their big break. Ferguson opted to sell established stars Paul Ince, Andrei Kanchelskis and Mark Hughes, then kept the club’s coffers untouched and promoted from within.
The 1995/96 season began with an opening day defeat at Aston Villa, which prompted BBC pundit Alan Hansen to declare: “You can’t win anything with kids,” but the campaign would end in glorious circumstances as the Reds strode to the Premier League title and FA Cup, thrilling audiences along the way with their fearless, exciting football. Imbued with the club’s unique history and curriculum throughout their formative years, the Class of ’92 knew only one way to play: the Manchester United way.