The end of an era

June 29, 2010 Tags: , Opinion 7 comments

In 1994 Manchester United’s players of the era, including the club’s longest ever serving club captain Bryan Robson, Roy Keane, Steve Bruce, the great Dane Peter Schmiechel and Eric Cantona produced a single alongside Rock heavyweights Status Quo. The track hit number one, much like the team, who won the Premier League.

It was the early days of Sir Alex Ferguson’s quest to ‘knock Liverpool off their perch’. Indeed, the success of United’s early-90s team was bred in a squad littered with great players, with this new-found glory sewing the seeds of Ferguson’s future triumphs and giving rise to the golden generation of Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, the Neville brothers and others.

Recently exposed to ‘Come on You Reds’ via the delights of MTV offers a reminder, albeit clichéd and unrepresentative, of just how far Ferguson’s ’94 team has evolved.

This, of course, is partly attributed to the rise of foreign footballers within the game. Where previous David May was an acceptable benchwarmer, local squad players have largely been replaced by imports such as Fabio and Park Ji-Sung. Neither of these players quite match Wayne Rooney or Cantona before him but are integral to the gradual improvement of the squad.

The English national team was once packed with United’s talent; it is now filled with players from across the Premier League. While English connection has very much subsided, the feel of Old Trafford’s United Nations has increased.

Whether this trend is linked to United’s disappointing season remains to be seen. What is clear is that the team of ’94 lived and breathed success, where today Ferguson’s side not only lacks the superstars of yesteryear but the traditional style once associated with the club.

The basic 4-4-2 system has departed for the continental 4-5-1 or 4-3-3.  Lower-profiles of players such as Michael Carrick have replaced the big egos of Schiemichel, Keane, Cantona and Lee Sharp. And the mouth-watering , and the mouth-watering starting eleven has dissipated for a focus on the defensive tendencies of modern football.

Even at the forefront of world football – the World Cup – the bus has been parked on one too many occasions. So much so that even BBC pundit and Wolves manager Mick McCarthy has shown his displeasure and he’s one of the worst culprits in the Premier League.

The last fragments of United’s ’94 team are slowly ebbing away. Scholes has stated this may in fact be his last season as a player. Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville cannot continue much longer. Where will the replacements be found?

Indeed, the success of earlier squads was founded on a British element at the core of the team. Arsenal’s shortcomings in the Premier League  over the past five season might be correlated to a lack of true passion for the British game. When Liverpool ALMOST made it back to the big time two years ago Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard nearly drove  Rafa Benitez’ team to success, not Albert Riera or Alvaro Arbeloa.

Not that national heritage should determine players’ inclusion in the United side but every efforts needs to be made to give the young homegrown players at the club a real chance at making the first team. Few have made it in recent seasons.

Ryan Shawcross, as one example, will no doubt grace the steps at Wembley as a fully fledged England defender but found chances at Old Trafford hard to come by. Even imports brought to the club have been lost. Lessons must be learned from the early release of  world-beater Gerrard Piqué, who was sold far too early for a price lower than that paid for Zoran Tošić.

Whilst not every generation can contain a player of ’94 club captain Robson’s class and leadership, United fans do wish a few more superstars in the current team.

United’s ’94 single is cheesy but the characters are remembered. How many of the 2010 side will also be recalled with affection in 15 years time?


Majido - June 29, 2010 Reply

Thanks for the article Dan I really enjoy it.

At the moment, Aston Villa and Everton are having good young english players which SAF can think about and add them to the squad at the right time (ex: Ashley Young, Milner (wasn’t good in WC) and Agbonlahor…Rodwell, Jose Baxter and Dan Gosling).

Other fans will say that United are not developing their own players… the academy has some good players..but when they will be given a chance… when was the last time United established an English player (from its own academy?) this is what England r missing now …but this matter isn’t a concern for us….

For me I think and hope Tom Cleverly will made his name next season…and wish to see Macheda and Wellbeck given more chance in their proper position as a srtikers.

Thanks again mate

Ashish - June 29, 2010 Reply

“when was the last time United established an English player (from its own academy?)”
Erm,Wes Brown?

Ed - June 29, 2010 Reply

Yeah its not been that good in recent years. Just Brown, O’Shea, Fletcher and Evans in the past decade.

captainhormone - June 29, 2010 Reply

“At the moment, Aston Villa and Everton are having good young english players which SAF can think about and add them to the squad at the right time (ex: Ashley Young, Milner (wasn’t good in WC) and Agbonlahor…Rodwell, Jose Baxter and Dan Goslin”

Both naive and arrogant on your behalf…..we don’t have any money to buy any one of these, and wont for the foreseeable future…also what make you think they would want to come or we are even intere…..oh fuck it……..aaarrggghhhhhh

Majido - June 29, 2010 Reply

you are right … we have no money..and this will be clear after the world cup when all good players will move to madrid and man shity… but am hopefull we can win the epl next season if our players stay injury-free

Liam - June 29, 2010 Reply

Good artical but the fans have to take some of the flack here too. In this age where istant success is demanded it seems only buying in talent will suffice. If Fergie decided to give youth a chance in the PL and it didn’t go well then there would be calls from the OT faithful for his head. I don’t believe the fans on the whole are willing to sacfifice success for 3 or 4 years to build a home grown team. I would love to see more Manchester lads in the team or at least lads who have come through the academy like when the golden genereation came through. I always felt back then that we had a sort of moral superiority(as well as talent superiority) to other teams littered with foreign names. This I belive is the main problem facing the England team also, too many foreign stars dominating the PL

Bill - June 30, 2010 Reply

Good point on McCarthy. An big oaf of a centre half who sets Wolves up 4-5-1 every week in the Premiership criticises on commmentary Greece for being defensive against one of the most potent attacking teams in the world! Moron!

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