United's young pretenders
Sir Alex Ferguson is banking on a nucleus of youngsters to reinstate Manchester United as the Kings of England. The Reds have been dethroned by Chelsea and many believe the title race next term will be even more hotly contested with Tottenham and Manchester City bringing their bids to the table. In the history of the Premier League only once have United had to endure more than one season without the tag League Champions. In 2004, 2005 and 2006 Arsenal and Chelsea (twice) kept the trophy in London. Other than that period Fergie has always managed to engineer an immediate fightback. When Arsene Wenger's Invincibles and Roman Abramovich's millions dominated, United went through a transitional period. Now Ferguson believes he has amassed another collection of young players who can take United on. Jonny Evans, Darron Gibson, Rafael and Fabio da Silva, Anderson, Danny Welbeck, Gabriel Obertan, Mame Biram Diouf and Federico Macheda have already been installed. They will be joined by 21-year-olds Chris Smalling from Fulham and Mexico's Juan Hernandez next season. Fergie is delighted the group is already being nurtured in the senior side. "I think they are all experienced and have been in the first team on a regular basis," said Sir Alex. "They have all made good contributions. Gibson has scored seven goals for us and is improving all the time. Rafa as you have seen many times is an outstanding prospect and he's had quite a few games. Evans development "I wouldn't say Jonny Evans has been a regular but he has played a lot of football this year. The fact of Ferdinand and Vidic being injured has given him a chance. At 21 for a centre-half to display that quality shows he's definitely the future. "Someone pointed out we could play an outfield team of under-21s. I don't for a minute think you would play them all together but they have all had their share of game experience. "We have a lot of young players in the club. They are the future and there is no question there is a good foundation there. "In the last decade we have based a lot of our plans looking two or three years ahead and we are doing that well again." The old guard of Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes who have all signed up for another 12 months at Old Trafford remain paramount to Fergie's building strategy. "Neville, Scholes and Giggs have become very important but this could be their last year," added Fergie. "You cannot guarantee at their age they will carry on much longer. But at the moment their experience combined with the young players coming through who are playing on a regular basis it is a good mixture. "The younger ones will benefit from that and in two or three years become your regular players. "We have a reasonable structure in terms of ages. We have a good nucleus of players." Do you think United's youngsters are good enough? Have your say.
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