Fergie’s Fledglings: And Then There Was One

By on June 2, 2011

With the expected retirement of Paul Scholes, one of Manchester United’s recent claims to fame is grievously coming to a close.

19 years ago a group of young, very hungry professional footballers, which coined the name, “Fergie’s Fledglings,” took English Football by storm, but, sadly, only Ryan Giggs remains at the club now.

Along with Scholes and Giggs, David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Phil and Gary Neville, who retired from United in February, were a group of dignified players who brought a lot of joy to the supporters, the manager and club, itself.

From the first day that Sir Matt Busby introduced the infamous “Busby Boys,” there was a policy of giving youth a chance. The former United manager boldly claimed, “If they’re good enough, then they’re old enough,” when someone challenged him to why he played some of the young players during his time at Old Trafford.

That same youth policy was resurrected when Sir Alex took over the club. Whether it was a slice of good fortune or being able to decipher talent, the Gaffer had a team full of talented players that loved the game and appreciated playing with one another.

The “Class of ’92” not only had that certain some thing special about them, but they also realized their potential – and collectively, as well. To have a team of thriving, talented players afforded the ability to come through at one time is next to unheard of, which is why this is so painstaking for most Manchester United supporters.

The six living legends can really be classified into two sets: The Trio and The Trinity.

Trio

Of the six players that made it through to the United first team, David Beckham was the first one to venture off in the summer of 2003 – whether it was his or the manager’s choice is another topic altogether. But before he left, Becks won 14 trophies at Old Trafford and he has found it difficult since trying to win silverware – only winning one meaningful trophy – La Liga with Real Madrid in 2006/07. Beckham accumulated 394 total appearances and 85 goals, which ranks him 28th and 24th, respectively, in the club’s record books.

The next to leave was Nicky Butt and he left on his own fruition. The powerful midfielder started to see his first team chances dropping off dramatically, and he finally left when Newcastle United had a £2.5 million bid accepted for him. Butt stayed a year longer than Beckham did, which earned him one more winners’ medal from the 2003/04 FA Cup. During his career in the Red shirt, Butt scored 26 goals and totaled 387 appearances, which ranks him 31st on the club’s all-time list – one ahead of the next fledgling to fly the coup.

Phil Neville was a very versatile player for United, but, unfortunately for him, he played second fiddle to the players ahead of him in the pecking order. Eventually he was offered a chance he could not refuse – a guaranteed place in the first team and the captain’s armband – if he joined David Moyes at Everton in the summer of 2005. While Sir Alex did not want to lose him, he respected the jack-of-all-trades player and allowed him to move on with his career. While Phil was not as goal-oriented as Becks or Butt, he still registered eight goals in his career – one more than his brother Gary in eight fewer seasons.

Trinity

After the young of the Neville brothers left Old Trafford, it set the stage for the next United trinity. Gary, Paul and Ryan not only sounds like a band from the 1960s, but they made beautiful music together for Manchester United. Sir Alex was keen on keeping these players due to the positions they played and the contrasting mannerisms of each. This is not to say that they were more talented, but this trio offered the best attitude to help educate the young, less refined players coming into the club.

It would have been perfect to see these three players ride off in the sunset together, but, fortunately for United, Giggs still has at least another season to offer.

After struggling with injuries over the last couple of seasons, Gary was given a new contract at the end of last season, but he was limited to two sub par performances, which could have both ended with an early bath, led to the United stalwart calling it a day. The older Neville always wore his heart and emotions on his sleeve, which led to Sir Alex selecting him to be the club’s long-term captain after Roy Keane’s departure. Playing for his boyhood club, Gary notched an impressive 602 appearances that ranks him fifth on the all-time list – 74 behind the man with the ginger hair.

Scholes confirmed the feeling that everyone had leading up to the final day of the season bringing an end to his glittering career, which has seen a lot of plaudits from opposing professional footballers that he is the greatest player in his position. A very creative, charismatic center midfielder, Scholes was always one pass ahead of his opponent, which helped propel him well above his 5’7″ frame to unparalleled heights. On top of being ranked fourth all-time in appearance, Scholes has scored 150 goals in his United career – which sees him sitting in ninth place and nine off the final part of the new trinity at Old Trafford.

Giggs was the first one to break into the first and he is now the last one to leave. The Welshman has defied all logic by prolonging his career longer than anyone could have imagined – especially with his chronic hamstring problems.

In the last 19 years, these six players, known commonly as “Fergie’s Fledglings,” have combined to scored 435 and make 3,321 appearances for Manchester United – and we will never, ever see another group of players like this again.

Submitted by The United Religion

 

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3 Comments

  1. john

    June 2, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    i hope morrison, pogba and tunnicliffe are ready for when ther times.

  2. Red Devil

    June 2, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    ‘Busby Boys’??? You make me sick. You’re not a Utd fan. Learn your history

  3. Tim

    June 2, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Busby Boys??
    Ever heard of the Busby Babes i wonder?

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