Sir Alex Ferguson keeping faith with latest batch of bright young things

One for the future: Welbeck, the England Under-21 striker, is one of several United players whose long-term prospects at the club have been questioned

Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, has launched a vigorous defence of his young players and backed them to follow in the footsteps of David Beckham and Co by becoming the stars of tomorrow.

Ferguson will keep faith with the same youngsters who were beaten 1-0 by Besiktas in the Champions League last week when United take on Tottenham Hotspur in the Carling Cup quarter-finals at Old Trafford this evening.

Questions were raised in some quarters about the long-term prospects at United for Federico Macheda and Danny Welbeck, the Italy and England Under-21 strikers respectively, and Darron Gibson, the Ireland midfield player, among others, after defeat by the Turkish club. But they will be given another chance to impress against Tottenham, with the United manager confident that they can emulate the success of Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers, the so-called “Fergie’s Fledglings” who overcame criticism of their own in the mid-1990s to become household names.

“It will be the same players [against Tottenham] who played last Wednesday, despite the criticism they got,” Ferguson said.

“Someone wrote, ‘There’s no future for these players, there’s no tomorrow for them’. What an idiot. I couldn’t believe that. I played six players — two 18-year-olds, a 19-year-old, a 20-year-old, a 21-year-old and a 22-year-old — in a European game and you say there’s no future for them. It’s unbelievable.

“When Beckham, Butt, Scholes and all those lads made their debuts as a group, they were 22 years of age, three years ahead of these players.” That is not entirely true. Beckham was 17 when he made his first-team debut and was a regular by the age of 20, Gary and Phil Neville and Butt were all playing regularly at 19, while Scholes was a fixture in the United midfield from the age of 21.

Macheda, 18, burst on to the scene last season with the winning goals in successive league games against Aston Villa and Sunderland, and Welbeck, who turned 19 only last week, also made an encouraging start. However, like Gibson, 22, both strikers have had to be patient this season, while Gabriel Obertan, the France Under-21 winger signed from Bordeaux for £3 million in the summer, has only just come into the reckoning after injury. Rafael Da Silva, 19, and, to a lesser extent, his identical twin, Fábio, have shown considerable promise in defence. Others, such as Zoran Tosic, the 22-year-old Serbia winger signed from Partizan Belgrade in January, have yet to be given much of an opportunity, but Jonny Evans and Anderson, both 21, already figure prominently.

Alan Hansen, the former Liverpool defender, has never lived down his infamous claim at the start of the 1995-96 season that “you’ll never win anything with kids” after watching a United team containing Scholes, Butt, Beckham and the Neville brothers lose 3-1 away to Aston Villa. United went on to win the league and cup double that season with those players forming the backbone of the side. Ferguson said he would not be surprised if his present crop of players made a similar impact in the longer term.

“The one thing we can’t give them is that old head,” he said. “What happened in the last third of the field [against Besiktas] is they got anxious. They had good chances but hurried things, but that’s not the biggest crime in the world. “We are not talking about [a lack of] ability here, we are talking about just a bit of experience. That is why we have to play them. We have a lot of young players who need to be challenged. And I thought they did OK. I don’t think they deserved that type of criticism.

“But the same critics will be wanting articles off them when they’re stars. They’ll be going cap in hand to them begging them for interviews in a few years’ time. Mark my words on that. I have their futures well mapped out.”

nice one fergie.. these lads seems to have a great future ahead. they look nervous at times especially against older opponents. but time will teach them to become better and better. article from TimesOnline.

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