Alan Hansen survived Sir Alex Ferguson humiliation to eventually be proved right after all

Alan Hansen, Gary Lineker, Garth Crooks and Mark Lawrenson behind the scenes at the BBC.
-Credit: (Image: Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images)

Throughout 22 years on "Match of the Day" Alan Hansen gave a lot of opinions, but one stands out from the rest and is still quoted to this day. "You can't win anything with kids".

Hansen started working on the Premier League highlights show in 1992 when the new top English division was formed, and Manchester United went on to win the first two league titles in 1992-93 and 93-94. They were dethroned by Blackburn Rovers the following year, and Hansen was convinced they hadn't done enough in the summer transfer window to reclaim their title in the 1995-96 season.

A golden generation was forming at the time, although we weren't to know that until a few years later. Legendary United head coach Sir Alex Ferguson trusted in his youth and Gary Neville (aged 20), Paul Scholes (20), Ryan Giggs (21), Phil Neville (18), Nicky Butt (20), and David Beckham (20), became key members of the squad.

The youthful United squad were steamrolled 3-1 by Aston Villa early into the season, and Hansen ruled them out of the title race with his infamous quote. "I think they've got problems," Hansen said. "You can't win anything with kids.

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"You look at that line-up, Manchester United today - Aston Villa, at quarter past two when they get the team sheet, it's just going to give them a lift, and it'll happen every time [Ferguson] plays the kids. He's got to buy players, it's as simple as that."

United responded perfectly by winning the title that season, and as a Liverpool legend, the fans have never let Hansen live that quote down. But other than the one instance in which Ferguson and United proved Hansen wrong, his statement has turned out to be true.

Since that season when United fielded six players aged 23 or under for 10 games or more, no Premier League champion in the years that followed has come close to hitting that number. The most stands at four U23 players, which were fielded 10 times or more by Arsenal (97-98) and United (08-09).

Experience remains the key factor to winning any league title, and that young United team in 95-96 were the second youngest squad on average (25) to win the Premier League. The only team to field a younger squad and be crowned champions was Chelsea (24.3) in 2005, but the majority of its squad were aged 23 and 24.

Within the last decade, all Premier League champions had a squad whose average age was above 26. Youth and experience are both necessary factors for all teams to consider, but that United team appears to be an anomaly to the rule.

That United team was, of course, extremely unique, and Neville, Giggs, Butt, and Scholes went on to become world-class players and legends at Old Trafford. Beckham became a global icon and earned a move to Real Madrid.

Last season it was Chelsea who had the youngest average age in the Premier League (23.1) after spending big on youth under new owner Todd Boehly. They saved their season in the final months, but the inexperience saw them drop multiple points and if it wasn't for Cole Palmer and his goal contributions, they would have been in the relegation zone at one stage.