On the 19th August 1995 Manchester United were beaten 3 – 1 by Aston Villa at Villa Park in a match they never looked like winning , prompting Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen to famously remark “you don’t win anything with kids” but when you look at the team it wasn’t really a young team.
During the previous summer United had had a bit of a clear out of players with Ince, Kanchelskis & Hughes leaving to be replaced by “Fergies Fledglings.” Now we’ve all seen the famous photo (that is usually cropped to miss out Terry Cooke on the end) and we are now seeing the players coming to or in most cases at the end of the career but lets get back to the original point.
Yes United did play a lot of youngsters in that side with both Neville brothers, Nicky Butt, David Beckham, Paul Scholes and John O Kane all playing (Beckham was the scorer that day) but Beckham and O Kane were subs who came on. There was still Irwin, McClair, Pallister, Schmeichel, Keane, Parker & Sharpe all playing so Hansen’s statement looks weak in retrospect. Also Villa had a half decent team back then with Dwight Yorke and Savo Milosevic forming a useful strike partnership that was complemented by the center back pairing of Ugo Ehiougu and Gareth Southgate. The Villa team that year finished 4th that season and claimed the league cup title although again this is hindsight but still it was a naive statement to make by Hansen on the basis of one game.
Maybe it’s Hansen’s Liverpool links that allowed him to look upon this team with scorn, although this was the same season a certain Robbie Fowler made his name and won the PFA young player of the season award playing on the red half of Merseyside. In his defence you could argue that the return of Cantona mid season buoyed United a bit, but this was a team on their way to a league and FA Cup double (beating Liverpool in a dull final most remembered for that Cantona goal and those Liverpool suits) and the young players that played topped 350 caps for their country so maybe this was one time that Hanson was wide of the mark.