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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future