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'You can't win anything with kids' - Alan Hansen's infamous Man Utd rant & the aftermath

16:00 SAST 2019/10/16
Alan Hansen Manchester United
The line was uttered by the former Liverpool star on Match of the Day in 1995 about Alex Ferguson's young side - and would come back to haunt him

It's hard for Premier League fans to remember a time before Manchester United became the dominant force in English football under Sir Alex Ferguson a quarter of a century ago.

The Scotsman, who led the club between 1986 and 2013 for a record 26-year spell, guided them to their first top-flight title in almost three decades during the first season of the Premier League in 1993, and followed it up with a second crown a year later.

Though the Red Devils were edged out in 1995, they came back roaring in 1996, headed up by a new generation of players known as Fergie's Fledglings, including David Beckham, Gary Neville, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes among others.

But not everyone had tipped them to make a success of their year, with one pundit having infamously declared that their youth would get them nowhere...

Who said 'You can't win anything with kids?'

The phrase "You can't win anything with kids" was uttered by former Liverpool star Alan Hansen on Match of the Day in 1995.

Hansen, a living legend at Anfield who won eight First Division titles, two FA Cups and three European Cup crowns during his playing career, was referring to United's opening day defeat to Aston Villa.

Ian Taylor, Mark Draper and Dwight Yorke all netted goals before half-time to give the Villans a hefty lead at the break, while Beckham could only provide a late consolation effort after emerging from the bench in a 3-1 loss.

On the BBC's flagship football show later that day, when asked by host Des Lynam for his appraisal of United's performance, Hansen offered a scathing rebuke of the club's strategy, stating that he felt the club "had problems" and that they would not "win anything" with their younger talent, while also lambasting their lack of star players.

Full 'Can't win anything with kids' transcript

LYNAM : Well, United were scarcely recognisable from the team we've known over the last couple of seasons. What's going on, do you feel?

HANSEN : I think they've got problems. I wouldn't say they've got major problems. Obviously, three players have departed. The trick is always buy when you're strong, so he needs to buy players. You can't win anything with kids. You look at that line-up at Manchester United today and Aston Villa, at quarter-past two, when they get the teamsheet, it's just going to give them a lift, and it'll happen every time he plays the kids. He's got to buy players, simple as that.

LYNAM : But they have, as Alex Ferguson pointed out, they have got star names to come in, they've got Cole and Giggs and Cantona -

HANSEN : - and Cantona and Steve Bruce. Still not enough. The trick in winning the championship is having strength in depth. They just haven't got it.

What did Man Utd win with 'kids'?

Manchester United would subsequently not lose again until November, against Arsenal, with only two losses after the New Year, as they managed to surpass Newcastle in the title race to lift the Premier League.

In addition, they also enjoyed a tremendous run in the FA Cup that season, reaching the final where they defeated Hansen's beloved Liverpool 1-0 to take the trophy at Wembley.

Ferguson was named the Premier League's Manager of the Year, while Gary Neville was nominated to the PFA's Team of the Year.

The coach often went back to Hansen's comments to motivate his side throughout the season, helping to drive their determination on to succeed, with the core nucleus of his young squad playing an instrumental role in lifting the Treble in 1999 three years later.

How has Alan Hansen reacted since?

The infamous nature of his prediction continued to haunt Hansen throughout the rest of his punditry career, with the former centre-back expounding upon his feelings in an interview with the Telegraph in 2013.

"That line pretty much made me, simply because I got it so dramatically wrong!" he noted. "The United souvenir shop printed the quote on a T-shirt and they sent me a couple, which was great.

"But despite being so dramatically wrong, if United hadn’t won the double that year, you could still say that line now.

"Even after that year, when he brought those five or six sensational kids through, Sir Alex always went for experience.

"And don’t forget that the spine of that team included Peter Schmeichel, Steve Bruce, Gary Pallister and Eric Cantona.

"That team was a fantastic example of how to build a formidable spine and fill in everything else around it.

"The kids were great, but so were the goalkeeper, two centre-backs and the centre forward."