Alex Ferguson enthused by next Manchester United generation

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is relishing watching his latest crop of young guns blaze a new trail at Old Trafford.

It was Alan Hansen who once famously remarked of Ferguson's 1995/96 side that "you never win anything with kids", only for United to claim the double that year.

The team beaten 3-1 by Aston Villa on the opening day 16 years ago that prompted Hansen's quote was, on average, a year older than the one that finished Sunday's 2-1 season-opening victory at West Brom.

With the likes of Gary Neville and Paul Scholes now retired, it is a sign of the times that youth is again at the forefront at United as Ferguson masterminds the latest rejuvenation of his squad.

"We were always aware we had players who were coming to the end of their careers. That has been on the horizon for us for quite a few years," said Ferguson.

"We knew it was going to happen, you don't want it to, but it does and there's nothing you can do about it. Age catches up with us all.

"So we've replaced the players who have left us, and we've still players at the club in their 30s, which is a lot of experience.

"At some point when the young players may hit a pocket there will be enough experience to augment the challenge we're after this year.

"It is a very young team at the moment, but it's one full of energy and of great ability, and I'm enjoying watching them."

It is likely there will be only one player over 30 in the starting line-up for Monday's visit of Spurs, with Patrice Evra returning at left-back after missing the game at The Hawthorns with an ankle injury.

With skipper Nemanja Vidic sidelined for up to five weeks with a calf injury and fellow centre-back Rio Ferdinand almost certainly out with a hamstring problem, youth will most evidently be on show in defence.

Aside from Evra, ahead of 20-year-old goalkeeper David De Gea, new signing Phil Jones and Jonny Evans, 19 and 23 respectively, line up at the heart, with 21-year-old Chris Smalling in at right-back.

"I'm not worried about the young players filling in at the back," added Ferguson.

"Evans has ample experience, of course, and has been at the club since he was 12. He's played plenty of first-team games.

"Jones has the experience of playing for Blackburn last season in the Barclays Premier League.

"I thought he and Smalling were the stars for the England Under-21s in the summer, and Chris had a fantastic first season with us, and he's continued his progress this year.

"So I have absolutely no issues whatsoever with playing those guys."

Ferdinand's injury is not as bad as first feared, although Vidic will be out for longer than originally expected.

Ferdinand has not been definitively ruled out against Spurs, but it is more likely he will return for the match at home to Arsenal next weekend.

It means he will also be available for England's Euro 2012 double- header against Bulgaria and Wales next month, as well as the start of United's latest Champions League quest.

Darren Fletcher (virus), Javier Hernandez (concussion) and Antonio Valencia (ankle) are all closing in on a return, but are not yet ready, whilst Michael Owen is out with a back problem.

Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before