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Is the class of 2007 better than the class of 1994 and 1999?

For

Over the years Manchester united has had some fantastic teams, however I predict this will be the best of the best. Obviously this is a brash statement and a prediction rather than a fact. However if we analyse this squad/team and compare its strengths and weaknesses to past United greats we can make some interesting observations.

In terms of squad, we can cope with injuries, suspensions and rotation of players with ease. United were almost certainly playing with our third choice goalkeeper for a few games Kuzczak with both Foster and Van der Sar out injured but no-one mentioned it really unlike the even shorter period Chelsea were forced to use their third choice keeper. The reasons being when you keep winning injuries aren’t mentioned because there is no need to. We have coped so far this season with injuries to Carrick, Foster, Park, Silvestre, Neville, Saha, Hargreaves, Fletcher,Rooney, all these for a minimum of two months, and of course other players have missed games injured. Yet has this been a major problem or even a problem? In truth No! We have kept winning and either the defence or attack at various times has been superb.

What other United team in the past could have or has cope with so many injuries and kept relentlessly winning? The 94 side struggled to cope with the limited non English players rule and struggled in Europe. In truth it was also broken up by Ferguson who knew its limitations and let Hughes and Ince go with Kanchelskis who made it clear he wanted to leave. Keane was also yet to get close to his peak. Many United fans have a special affection for that team but the truth is it failed to make its mark in Europe and Hughes and Cantona didn’t really score the number of goals you would like and expect from a top class duo. Moreover in Europe Steve Bruce’s lack of pace was too often found out.

The 99 team on the other hand did it all, there are no ifs or butts just trophies and proof, even the following season they gave us the best points record for a United team and got to the quarter finals of the Champions league drawing in Madrid but losing 3-2 at home. This obviously was a special team but for all its achievements it never dominated Europe as it was hoped.

Today’s United team has the ability to dominate the premiership and Europe for the next 5 years. Besides having the squad it is also inundated with some of the best young players in the world, Rooney Ronaldo Anderson Nani Foster Tevez , and contains numerous players who would have to be considered if not picked for a world squad. Vidic Ferdinand Evra Hargreaves Scholes to add to the above not only have the ability but the mental strength that is required of winners. Not to mention great young prodigies such as Simpson. Pique, Evans, Campbell, Lee, and Gibson et al who are knocking on the door for a first team place.

Furthermore the team spirit and desire is the heartbeat of the team, they can destroy teams on their day but when not firing on all cylinders they will fight it out and dig deep when it counts. And they can mix it players such as Ronaldo Rooney Tevez Nani and Anderson may have all the skills in the world but they don’t go missing if defenders go over the top and we also have a number of players who will give it back if the opposition wanted to mix it. The 99 team did at times lack the physical side to give it back and tended to rely too heavily on Keane. Not this side!!

What is also special about this team is there movement and ability to play total football, both wide players change wings and Rooney and Tevez change positions as well as can play wide, and they are all so intelligent footballers it has to be a nightmare to mark or to plan to cope with. In the past when United have played with only two central midfield players sides have been able to over man us in the midfield. But with Rooney and Tevez’s work rate with the rest of the team and ability to drop back and help the midfield we seem to be coping with whatever the opposition throws at us.

I would also argue the standard of football today is higher than at any other time in the past with the amount of money in the premiership it has attracted more and more of the best players in the world. Fergie has always liked a British hard core but today there probably aren’t the players he requires due to the high standards so has had to rely more and more on a foreign base.

Only time will tell if this is the greatest of them all but I’m confident that it will be!!

Against

For all the glamour and attractive football that United are playing now, they still cannot be compared to the two great United teams of the past 15 years. Rollback the clock 14 years and we would be entering the winter of 93, having won the title the previous season, United on course for a Domestic double - the first time a United side would achieve this. United had just drawn with Galatasaray 3-3 at Old Trafford and would lose the tie on the away goals rule a month later. It was a disappointing to go out in this way especially in such a hostile environment. But can we really judge the performance of these sides in Europe with so many restrictions enforced??

Of course the side had a learning curve to play in Europe. After all United's last game in the European Cup was against Milan in the San Siro in the April of 69. The current side are playing European football week in week out and have adapted to slower approach. This is major factor in the progression within the early days of the Champions League (at this stage it was still the European Cup). The knockout format was still in place and there simply was no room for error.

However, the 94 side had so much quality, it transformed English football. Giggs and Kanchelskis flying down the flanks combined with the drive, determination and sheer will to win of Ince, Hughes and Keane and to finish off with the flair and finesse of Le King himself, Eric Cantona. This side used to blow away teams, some would argue in the same fashion that the current crop do – however this was without the squad rotation policy that has been adopted by so many clubs in recent years – these players couldn’t afford a rest and to play week in week out.

The 1994 side won back to back titles and became the first United side to win the double. That’s pretty impressive, in fact it’s bordering on superiority. The current crop have not yet won anything, and this is the main reason that they cannot be compared to the United side of 94 or even the United side of 99, who went on and won the lot. All three sides have a lot in common – pace, balance, understanding and most importantly a will to win.

Then we come to the 1999 side. I’ve heard the argument that the 1994 side would beat the 1999, I don’t know if that’s true, but I know that the achievement of the 99 side was phenomenal. To win three trophies, three major trophies, is incredible. The will to win of the side was also astonishing. Three games stand out in that season, Liverpool at home in the FA Cup, Arsenal at Villa Park and Bayern in the Nou Camp. That side had an incredible drive and determination to win at all costs regardless of the time left on the clock and the score. Michael Owen had given Liverpool an early lead and United were down 1-0 with minutes to go, enter Yorke and Solskjaer. Arsenal at Villa park, United are down to 10 men and Giggs scores a wonder goal. Lastly, Bayern in the biggest game of them all, the European Cup final (having won the league in the same season might I add) and scoring two late goals. This shows a true test of character and mental strength to achieve such heights and to complete these goals. Has the current side been tested like this yet?

Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo might be two of the most naturally gifted footballers that we have ever had at the club. But do they have the understanding that Cole and Yorke did? Do they have as much pressure on their shoulders as their predecessors did? My point is that there needs to be more to a football team than sheer individual brilliance, and this current batch of players are capable of achieving it, although not yet and therefore cannot be compared to the sides of 94 and 99
 

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Predictions are all well and good but until this current group of players perform well enough on the pitch to win back to back Premiership titles, a double or a treble they can not be compared to those 2 great sides.
 

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reddwarf said:
Predictions are all well and good but until this current group of players perform well enough on the pitch to win back to back Premiership titles, a double or a treble they can not be compared to those 2 great sides.
That pretty much says it all. nice thread Arbucks but I guess time will tell with this current team. They most certainly have the potential. Lets just hope they achieve greatness :)
 
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