Man Utd's worst ever Premier League season
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Manchester United’s kids are aiming to signpost a brighter future for the club by emulating the Class of 92 and lifting the FA Youth Cup at Old Trafford tonight. Thirty years on from when Gary Neville and co first made their mark, the latest emerging talent from the academy, led by captain Rhys Bennett, take on Nottingham Forest in the final.
And while Bennett is hoping it provides a similar springboard for careers they are also hoping to deliver a late season boost for the club at the end of a dismal year.
“It’s unbelievable what that Class of 92 went on to do. They are deep in this club’s history and having role models like that and seeing what they’ve achieved over the years gives you a massive confidence boost,” he said. “Hopefully we can put our little stamp on United’s history, it would be an amazing feeling to do so. But if keep working hard it shows you can get those opportunities.”
In 1992 a team led by Gary Neville and featuring Nicky Butt, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs, triumphed over Crystal Palace. In 2011 Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard were in the team which lifted the trophy and the recent history of finals is littered with players who have gone to international recognition.
The chance to follow in illustrious footsteps is an opportunity which Bennett insisted his United teammates are determined to grab.
“We know what this means to the club and means to us,” he said. “It’s one of the biggest competitions, if not the biggest competition, you can win at youth-team level. To say that we could win this trophy is unbelievable. The players who have won it are high-level players. That what we strive to do. it’s never going to be easy but it gives us a big boost in our careers. We can always take that with us wherever we go.”
United have sold over 60,000 tickets for tonight’s final at £1 a piece and will donate all the cash to their Manchester United Foundation, supporting local communities.
In comparison to the usual “20 or 30” who usually go along to the U18 matches, Bennett admitted it was going to be an amazing experience.
“It’s the closest you’re going to get to the first-team environment playing in the academy at 17 or 18 – 60,000 at Old Trafford, you never know how many times you’re going to play in front of a crowd like that.
“We’ve just got to take this opportunity and take everything in on the night like we have done in previous rounds.”
United have beaten Scunthorpe, Reading, Everton, Leicester City and Wolves on route to tonight’s final. Forest beat Chelsea, winners seven times in the last 12 years, to reach their first ever final.
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