30 years on from the Class of 92, Manchester United are hopeful of another FA Youth Cup miracle

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The Red Devils take on Nottingham Forest in the final of the FA Youth Cup this Wednesday night - a fixture which is expected to attract a record crowd of over 60,000.

Why the interest? While this might not be a very appetising fixture for the neutrals, it's certainly an important one for Man United, with the club continuing its desperate search for answers to their current woes.

Whatever the state of United in the past, the FA Youth Cup has offered a reprieve. In truth, this competition is integral to the club's DNA.

From the Busby Babes to Fergie's Fledglings, United's past victories in the competition have often translated into years of dominance for the first team.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Class of '92, and many hope that Wednesday's Youth Cup showdown could mark the beginning of a bright new era for the club.

Here, we take a look at United's previous exploits in the competition.

The Busby Babes (1952-57)

Sir Matt Busby once said: "It's every manager's dream, I suppose, to build a team by coaching young players of 15 to 17. That's why I started a youth scheme." United's youth team was not just successful - it was legendary. Not only did they win the first five editions of the competition, but they did so emphatically. The team dubbed as the Busby Babes dominated the competition with a team that included the indomitable Duncan Edwards - arguably one of England's greatest football talents.

The Busby Babes should have gone on to dominate the European and domestic football landscape for years to come.

Tragically, their potential was never fully realised as a result of the Munich Air Disaster in 1958.

FA Youth Cup wins:

(Aggregate score - finals were played over a two-legged format) 1952/53: Manchester United 9-3 Wolverhampton 1953/54: Manchester United 5-4 Wolverhampton 1954/55: Manchester United 7-1 West Brom 1955/56: Manchester United 4-3 Chesterfield 1956/57: Manchester United 8-2 West Ham

Simply the Best (1964)

The disaster in Munich changed everything. However, Manchester United didn't have to wait long before a new group of youngsters went on to claim the FA Youth Cup. On this occasion, though, the team included one particularly extraordinary talent - George Best. Touted by some as one of the greatest players ever, Best began to make regular appearances in the first team aged just 17. But that certainly didn't stop him from going back to the youth team and claiming the prestigious FA Youth Cup.

Four years on, Best was one of three players from that youth team to feature in United's first European Cup-winning squad of 1968 - alongside David Sadler and Jimmy Rimmer.

FA Youth Cup win:

1963/64: Manchester United 5-2 Swindon Town

Class of '92 (1992)

Manchester United youth team coach Eric Harrison is awarded a bottle of champagne and and special trophy by Premier League
Manchester United youth team coach Eric Harrison is awarded a bottle of champagne and and special trophy by Premier League

United had to wait 28 years to follow up their 1964 success in the competition.

Interestingly, the lack of success for their youth team was mirrored by the first team as United struggled to rediscover their glory days following the departure of Sir Matt Busby.

In 1986, Sir Alex Ferguson became manager of the club and while his early years were fraught with problems, the Scotsman did put in the groundwork for a successful youth team.

His youth development push reaped rewards when United conquered the FA Youth Cup in 1992. The team included a number of upcoming world-beaters including David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville.

Three years later, another crop of youngsters reclaimed the trophy. These players didn't have that same impact on the first team, although one player who did manage to breakthrough was Phil Neville.

FA Youth Cup wins:

1991/92: Manchester United 6-3 Crystal Palace

1994/95: Manchester United 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur (United won 4-3 on penalties)

A generation of unrealised potential (2003-2011)

It's true that United's recent triumphs in the FA Youth Cup have failed to inspire much success in the first team.

Back in 2003, for instance, the Red Devils powered to the youth title with a team which included Phil Bardsley, Paul McShane and even Tom Heaton. While players from that side did go on to have relatively successful careers, none of them could be regarded as true world-class footballers.

United reclaimed the FA Youth Cup in 2011 with a team that included Sam Johnstone, Michael Keane, Ravel Morrison, Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba.

Considering the amount of talent in the side, it is a generation that will be remembered more for its unrealised potential.

Lingard and Pogba are the most striking examples. Despite having gone on to play over 100 games apiece for the Red Devils, a Europa League success in 2017 is the pinnacle of their Old Trafford achievements.

FA Youth Cup wins:

2002/03: Manchester United 3-1 Middlesbrough 2010/11: Manchester United 6-3 Sheffield United

The article 30 years on from the Class of 92, Manchester United are hopeful of another FA Youth Cup miracle appeared first on Planetsport.com.

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