Sir Alex Ferguson nurtured some of the finest talent in English football history during his time at Manchester United.
the likes of David Beckham and Paul Scholes, to Wayne Rooney and Danny
Welbeck. However, for every England international there is an abundance
of prospects who never quite make the grade at Old Trafford.
in 2001 United had just won the Premier League for the third season in
succession, and Ferguson was particularly hopeful for the latest batch
of academy stars.
“We’ve got some terrific prospects at Old
Trafford,” he told the official club website at the time. “Darren
Fletcher, who we hope will get over his broken leg, is good.
“Michael Stewart and Luke Chadwick are doing very well, and John O’Shea’s doing well too.
a young left back called Paul Tierney who’s doing well, as is Danny
Pugh. But there’s a young boy who has started now, he’s 16, called
“He’s going to be a fantastic player.”
two of those players Champions League winners it is safe to say the
prediction was good, but what happened to other hopefuls? M.E.N. Sport
takes a look.
It is safe to say
Fletcher put that aforementioned injury behind him and became a club
great. United wanted to give the young Scot his Premier League debut
when he was just 16, but rules wouldn’t allow it at the time.
didn’t stop him from winning five league titles and the Champions
League in his time at the club mind. There was a reason why he was the
first youngster to spring to Ferguson’s mind.
had already made his first-team debut by the time Ferguson made his
prediction, but failed to reach the same level of fellow Scot Fletcher.
The youngster rejected a move to Royal Antwerp and eventually got games
in midfield following a suspension to Roy Keane.
game time dried up and he eventually left the club in 2005 where he
played both Edinburgh clubs Hearts and Hibernian. In 2014, he announced
he was running to represent the Scottish National Party in the 2015 UK
featured infrequently for United during his five years at the club,
with many of his appearances coming in the League Cup. He did earn a
Premier League winners medal in 2001, but never established himself as a
regular in the first-team.
The midfielder never really
settled at one club for a long time but did enjoy a decent chunk of his
career playing for MK Dons, before returning to hometown Cambridge
United to be a coach.
most successful man on this last John O’Shea won 14 trophies during his
time at United, and was an invaluable asset to Ferguson thanks to his
versatility and professional outlook. He even once played in goal away
at Tottenham in the Premier League.
O’Shea’s late winner at
Liverpool in 2007 proved to be a key moment as they regained the title
that season, and he is remembered fondly for his time at the club. Seven
years at Sunderland followed, along with a season at Reading before he
retired last year.
Tierney fulfilled a childhood dream when he signed for United back in
July of 1999. He signed professional terms a year later and spent five
years at the club, winning the Jimmy Murphy young player of the year
award in 2002.
During his spell at Old Trafford the
youngster had spells on loan at Crewe, Colchester and Bradford before
moving to Livingston in 2005.
A year on from Ferguson’s
prediction and Pugh was certainly making moves in the right direction,
making his debut in the Champions League win over Maccabi Haifa, going
to make five appearances in total that season.
winger eventually left to join Leeds as part of the deal which brought
Alan Smith to United in 2004, while his best football came at spells
with both Preston and Stoke. Pugh is still playing now as a player-coach
at Port Vale but has not featured for them in League Two this season.
quotes hinted his hopes were the highest for Richardson, and the
left-sided player certainly made an impression on the professional game.
He won three trophies during his time at United but never established
himself as a regular in the starting line up.
glimpses of his talent were shown, including in the 4-1 FA Cup
semi-final win against Watford in 2007, but he left for Sunderland at
the end of the season. Two years each at Fulham and Aston Villa followed
before he last played for Cardiff four years ago.