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United youngsters primed for action

LONDON, August 12 – The former Liverpool captain Alan Hansen once famously castigated Sir Alex Ferguson's faith in his young players by declaring that 'you win nothing with kids'.
Hansen was proved spectacularly wrong during the season that followed as Manchester United won the Premier League and FA Cup double in 1996 with the likes of the Neville brothers Gary and Phil, Paul Scholes and David Beckham.

And it is remarkable how history repeats itself as once again Ferguson puts his faith in his young players – and once again he is under increasing pressure to do the opposite.

After finishing second in the Premier League to Chelsea last season, Ferguson was expected to make at least one major signing to try and raise morale at Old Trafford and also debunk the myth that his coffers are empty.

However, he has spent just 10 million pounds on Fulham’s Chris Smalling and a further seven million pounds on Javier Hernandez, who are hardly yet household names. Nor are the sums big enough to convince many that all is well behind the scenes.

The increasingly hostile reception received by the Glazer family, who own United, is based largely on the premise that they have denied Ferguson the funds to strengthen his squad over recent years.

The United manager has been quick to deny that is the case and has always supported his employers but the fans’ suspicions regarding the size of Ferguson’s war chest continues to grow, and mainly because he is once again backing his club’s starlets to shine.

"They’ve done the job well," Ferguson said in support of the Glazers. "I’ve never been refused when I’ve asked for money for a player.

"What can I do other than carry on the way we’re doing it and the way I’m allowed to – I’ve no complaints."

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So if Ferguson has no money concerns and can simply ask for financial support whenever he needs it, why has he not bought more players?

There is a simple answer to that: he trusts those he already has.

During his time at United, Ferguson has developed and cultivated one of the most impressive youth training set-ups in world football.

Players such as Ryan Giggs, Beckham, Nicky Butt, Wes Brown, Danny Welbeck, Darron Gibson and Darren Fletcher have all been given the time and space to grow into United regulars both past and present.

And because he has done it before, Ferguson is now willing to do it again.

He said: "We have a collection of young players who have been growing up at the club, players such as Danny Welbeck, Jonny Evans, Darron Gibson and Federico Macheda.

"If you don’t give them a chance they’re going to stagnate and move to other clubs who’ll get the benefit of the work we’ve done.

"I’m sure these young players will get better and better. I see their determination. They want to do well, they want to learn, they want to play for United, get in the team and stay in the team.

"That’s what we were like when we were younger and I see the same desire in these young players.

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"Hopefully their determination and hunger will see them kick on and do even better, because we’re going to need them."

There is little denying that Ferguson will certainly need them as Giggs, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes enter the twilight of their careers and the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick are not far behind in terms of age.

But, if past history is anything to go by, the current concerns about how much faith Ferguson is putting in his youngsters is simply unnecessary. Just ask Alan Hansen.

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