The Class Of 92′ – You’ll Win Everything With Kids
In hindsight “you won’t win anything with kids” was a pretty rash statement for Alan Hansen to make this day twenty years ago.
Manchester United had just been hammered 3-1 by Aston Villa, when the Match of the Day pundit made his knee-jerk remark. But United had won stuff with kids.
Their side for that opening day defeat included several players from the famous Class of 92 – Gary Neville and Nicky Butt with David Beckham, John O’Kane and Simon Davies on the bench. Paul Scholes and Phil Neville weren’t part of that triumphant side but are still considered graduates of the Class of 92.
Kids that had won something – the 1992 FA Youth Cup. Of course Hansen was left with egg on his face as Fergie’s Fledglings helped United to the domestic double.
So what happened the Class of 92 – the ones who made Hansen eat his words and the ones who never made it as United? We investigate….
The goalkeeper in that FA Youth Cup-winning side, Pilkington is still on the books of Notts County after a journeyman career in the lower leagues. He made three league appearances in the 1995/96 double-winning side, but left for Port Vale two years later.
O’Kane came on as a substitute in the embarrassing defeat to Villa but never made another appearance for the club. He left for Everton in 1998, where he also failed to make the grade, before finishing his career at Hyde United in 2006.
Switzer was left-back in United’s famous youth team, but was considered too small by Sir Alex Ferguson and was released in 1993. He played fourteen times for Darlington before a six-year spell at Hyde United. He has since balanced playing amateur football with stints as an optician and courier.
Casper made just two appearances for United – and 75 overall – before his career was curtailed through injury at the age of 24. He managed Bury for a period in the mid-Noughties before working with the Premier League’s academy system.
Neville was captain on the all-conquering youth team, and went on to play 400 times for the senior side including 31 league appearances in their double-winning side of 95/96. After a highly-decorated career he is, of course, a respected pundit for Sky Sports.
A tattoo-less Beckham replaced Phil Neville at half-time in that match against Villa and scored his first United goal – a late consolation in their 3-1 defeat. Despite Hansen’s protestations, he went on to make 33 league appearances that season, cementing his role in the team that ended with his departure to Real Madrid eight years later.
He won six league titles and a Champions League with United as well as domestic honours with Real Madrid, LA Galaxy and Paris Saint-Germain.
Butt’s pivotal role with the youth side led to a senior debut at just seventeen, and he played 32 times in their 95/95 league campaign. He also won six league titles at the club before moving to Newcastle United in 2004. He is now back at Old Trafford, in his role as Head of Coaching for their Youth Academy.
Not to be confused with the fellow Welsh winger with the same name who played for Spurs, Davies was an unused sub for the defeat to Villa but was restricted to 20 appearances for a United side bursting with top wingers at the time. He went on to enjoy a relatively successful lower league career in England and Wales, winning one Welsh cap along the way. He is now assistant manager for Manchester City’s reserve team.
McKee only made one senior appearance for United before a move to Kilmarnock in 1994. He went on to make a handful of appearances for several Scottish sides before retiring in 2001.
The current United assistant manager was the first of the Class of 92 to break through to the first team, making his senior debut against Everton in 1991. He’d already made over 150 league appearances when Hansen uttered those immortal words and went on to break the appearance record for United and also the most Premier League appearances for a player.
United had high hopes for the left-winger, whose impact was limited by a series of serious injuries. He played nine times for the senior side but, after a couple of loan spells, he left for Huddersfield in 1998. The FA Youth Cup success was as good as it got for Thornley, who has recently worked for the club in a corporate capacity.
Robbie Savage was one of the substitutes on the 1992 youth side and we all know where he ended up – on our TV screens every minute of the day.
Fellow substitute Keith Gillespie was highly regarded at Old Trafford but found it hard to displace Andrei Kanchelskis from the first-team, before moving to Newcastle as part of the deal for Andy Cole.
Though not part of the 1992 youth team success, Paul Scholes and Phil Neville were key players the following season and are widely considered part of the Class of 92.
They both contributed to the senior side’s double-winning success in 95/96, making over 20 appearances each despite being part of that infamous opening day defeat.