Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Manchester United's new breed coming of age

Sir Alex Ferguson has claimed vindication against those who have questioned his belief in youth, as one of the youngest Manchester United sides to perform at Wembley secured the Community Shield and dealt Manchester City a huge psychological blow.

After coming from behind to record a 3-2 injury time win, which Wayne Rooney tweeted was “a footballing lesson” for City and a “great win for the champions”, Ferguson returned to the criticism he received in the depths of last autumn's struggles to claim he had proved his detractors wrong.

“For us this just confirms what I thought about the squad,” he said.

“People were saying it was not the best United squad and things like that but you have to remember a lot of young players will improve.”

The contribution of 21-year-old Tom Cleverley — who arrived with Phil Jones — and Jonny Evans after an interval which had City leading by 2-0, was excellent. He provided a crucial touch for the equaliser in a fine performance.

At the height of the October 2010 Rooney contract saga, when the striker publicly questioned United’s acquisition policy, Ferguson insisted: “People don't identify potential; they're very poor at it. I've identified it all my life — the potential in young people. I know potential.”

He was vindicated yesterday, for before Dimitar Berbatov’s 89th minute introduction, debutant Ashley Young was the oldest player in a United side then being captained by 21-year-old Rafael.

And Ferguson refused to criticise his 20-year-old debutant goalkeeper David de Gea who failed to save an Edin Dzeko shot which extended City's lead.

“The ball swerved a little bit. We could have closed the striker down. It caught the goalkeeper on the wrong foot,” Ferguson said.