Class of 92: Loyalty or stubborn blind faith?

Can he take over from van Gaal?

Can he take over from van Gaal?

In a week when Louis van Gaal finally put pen to paper and the final member of the class of 92 hung up his boots it’s time to ask the question; where do you draw the line between loyalty and blind faith? 

Many issues at Old Trafford remain unresolved despite van Gaal’s appointment as the new boss. What happens to the class of 92 who looked after the side until then end of last season? Let us not forget this was a disastrous season that saw the former champions sack Moyes and fall from so far from grace that they missed out on any european football next year.

It would seem a reasonable assumption that Nicky Butt will now go back to his coaching role with the academy’s unders 18’s. It would also seem likely that Paul Scholes will now leave the club having  stepped into a coaching role to help out his old mate Giggs at the end of last season. The ginger maestro has said today in a blog post for Paddy Power that he is unlikely to remain at the club. What Scholes will do from this point is a mystery. It would however seem an enormous waste of insite, if all we have to look forward to in future from the former England international, is the odd blog post here and there. 

One person who has cemented their place in United’s history is Ryan Giggs. After hanging up his boots and a quick trip to see van Gaal, Giggs has been made assistant manager of the club. You got the feeling that Giggs influence under David Moyes became less prominent as the Scots tenure proceeded. Giggs seemed to be part of a coaching group as a matter of course and as an appeasement to the fans, rather than having any specific role under Moyes.  It will be interesting to see how much influence the Welsh wing wizard will be allowed to input on the side now the “iron tulip” has taken the reigns. Now he has retired from playing there will be no excuses for failing, especially under the dictatorship of van Gaal. All the talk is that Giggs has been given the assistants job in the hope that he could be full time gaffer one day.

Then there is Phil Neville. Brought back to his boyhood club by David Moyes, Neville is another character whose role seems to be unclear. There is a strange approach to loyalty in football sometimes that only seems to be prevalent in this country. When Sven was axed by the FA many saw Steve McClaren as his natural successor. He was familiar with the set up, had coached the players for a number of years and had decent pedigree with his time at Manchester United.  On the other hand however he was half of a failed team. Many abroad asked, if Sven wasn’t good enough why would his number two be?  Phil Neville asks the same question at United. The romantic view that the class of 92, who won so much as players, can make a managerial dream team screams of “too many cooks”. Neville was part of an unsuccessful team lead by Moyes that failed spectacularly and it is no wonder his position at the club is unclear. Whilst a good servant to the United, he will never be seen in the same light as his brother, Giggs or Scholes. 

Whilst it is always important to respect the values of a clubs history and those players who have added to it so successfully, it remains equally important to move forward. Sir Alex had a history of keeping players on in roles within the club but at no point did he appointment any of them into his coaching team. It is important to reward great players for their services but in the eyes of the fans it is more important to win trophies.  

Rodgers’ Liverpool like Keegan’s Newcastle?

Similarities with Keegan?

Similarities with Keegan?

In the mid 1990s Kevin Keegan did the unthinkable at Newcastle United. He took a side with the help of new ownership to the brink of winning the Premier League title. He spent wisely in midfield and attack and even had enough room for some flair players at the back.

Undoubtedly the football under Keegan was at it’s beautiful best. Newcastle were often compared to the great Brazil sides of the past in the media and at one point in January of 1996 they were 12 points clear of second placed Manchester United.  What happened next is well known but is it history that is about to be repeated?

When you compare Brendan Rogers side with Keegans there are some visible similarities. The 95-96 Newcastle squad was comprised mainly of British talent with a mixture of youth and experience. Newcastle had their own hot headed but brilliant South American forward in the shape of  Colombian Faustino Asprilla. He played alongside a Les Ferdinand who was in his prime and scoring freely. They also had their share of continental talent and if you mention the name Philippe Albert to a Newcastle fan, they will undoubtedly regale you with the story of “that chip” against Manchester United.

But for all of their talent going forward it was to be their defensive frailties that lead to a collapse and that would ultimately cost them the Premier League crown.

Under Brendan Rogers this season Liverpool have arguably played the most attractive football in the league. They have also guaranteed themselves Champions League football after a five year absence. Both fantastic achievements but both would pale into insignificance if they were to achieve their first league title in over 24 years. An achievement now seemingly unlikely after a mini collapse and Manchester City’s strong finish.

It must be said that Liverpool at no point this season had a lead anything like Newcastles in the 95-96 season but that being said they have had the same defencive frailties all year. Time and time again pundits questioned Liverpool’s ability to keep a clean sheet and for the last couple of Monday nights Jamie Carragher has struggled to keep his anger bottled up when analysing their fixtures on Sky Sports.

Brendan Rogers face after the three all draw at Crystal Palace had many people reminiscing about those 4-3 fixtures played between Liverpool and Newcastle in 96 and 97 respectively. Whilst surrendering a 12 point lead was unforgivable for Newcastle back then, so was giving away a three goal lead against a side seemingly with nothing to play for on Monday for Liverpool.

Liverpool fans can be pleased overall with the progress made this season but know next year will be a much tougher assignment with Champions League football for the squad to contend with. Just as Newcastle will have felt all those years ago this may have been Liverpool’s best ever chance at securing a Premier League title. They will hope that they do not fade away as Keegan’s Newcastle did.