Liverpool legend Alan Hansen went on at length on Monday as to why the future at Manchester United isn’t a bright one — Wayne Rooney re-signing aside. Clearly, he’s ignoring many of — if not most of — the realities at Old Trafford.
Much of his argument is based on a comparison between United’s legendary generation raised in the 1990s — Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, the Nevilles — to today’s crop.
It’s fair to say that none of United’s youngest players are at the level of Scholes, Beckham or Giggs in their early years, but the situation is far from dire.
Rafael has made great strides this season at age 20, appearing to be a capable Premier League defender at a very young age. Johnny Evans may make mistakes at times, but he is just 22 and has played part in many of the team’s most important matches in central defense. His future is a bright one.
In midfield, what about Anderson or Darron Gibson? At ages 22 and 23, respectively, both have proven to be capable first-team players. Anderson’s development has slowed due to injury, and he has expressed interest in a return to Portugal, but he is clearly an elite talent and complete player. Gibson has shown Scholes-esque shooting ability, though he is far from the distributor of the man whom he would hypothetically succeed in that role.
Up top, the team has 22-year-old Javier Hernandez, a player who has already proven to be a top-flight scorer after just a few appearances. He is a world-class player in the making. Nani, perhaps the team’s most-talented player, is just 23.
It’s hard to ignore all of that promise.
Then, there’s Hansen’s argument that the team has no stars in their 20s who can help the kids mature. What is Wayne Rooney? Orr Darren Fletcher, Nemanja Vidic or Patrice Evra?
That argument just doesn’t hold water.
As for the notion that Sir Alex Ferguson has ruined the team by refusing to spend, that policy clearly came from above — not from Sir Alex — and it’s also no longer the case.
Liverpool may be getting 60 million pounds to play with in the next year, but Sir Alex and United will have 100. With that kind of money, they’ll be able to solidify their future at goalkeeper with one of the world’s best, and likely add a Real Madrid-like cache of stars in the field as well.
Add it all up, and United have as bright of a future as any club on the planet.
Even this season — one in which they have looked so mediocre — they are at the top of their Champions League group and are undefeated in the Premier League. Being pessimistic in that context is rather incredible.
What do you think?