The 7 Man Utd youngsters hailed by Sir Alex Ferguson in 2001 – and how they turned out

    Sir Alex Ferguson spent over 25 years at Manchester United and in that time saw plenty of academy talent flourish.

    The famous Class of 92 were the most successful products of the academy and helped the Red Devils enjoy a period of dominance.

    David Beckham, Paul Scholes and the Neville brothers are just four of the players to enjoy the benefits of United’s faith in youth.

    Ever since they broke into the first team they were used as the measuring point for all who came after them.

    The likes of Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Brandon Williams are players in the last five years who hope to follow in their footsteps.

    But back in 2001 Ferguson thought he may have been on to another gold mine and hailed seven young players – but did they actually go on to fulfill their potential?

    Sir Alex Ferguson had seven academy stars on his radar

    Darren Fletcher

    We’ll allow Ferguson this one given the Scotsman spent the best part of his career at Old Trafford.

    He won five Premier League titles as well as the Champions League in 2008.

    Testament to his reputation in Manchester was the fact that several supporters cited his absence in the 2009 Champions League final as a major reason behind their loss to Barcelona.

    Fletcher also scored a memorable winner against Chelsea in 2005 which ended their 40-match unbeaten run – it was just his fourth United goal.

    Darren Fletcher was a regular for Man Utd

    Luke Chadwick

    The bulk of his career was spent at MK Dons so not particularly a career that hit the heights.

    Chadwick spent five years at Old Trafford without ever establishing himself in the first team picture.

    Like most youngsters on the periphery he saw the majority of his opportunities come in the League Cup.

    In total he made 38 appearances for the club scoring just twice.

    Luke Chadwick
    Luke Chadwick ended up at MK Dons

    Danny Pugh

    The winger initially looked as if he may make the grade at Old Trafford after being handed his debut in the Champions League.

    But in 2004 he was ushered out the exit door as part of the deal that bought Alan Smith in from Leeds.

    He also played for Preston and Stoke, enjoying four years in the top flight with the Potters.

    Nowadays he is player coach at League Two side Port Vale, the club where he has spent the last four years.

    Danny Pugh played in the Premier League with Stoke

    Paul Tierney

    The youngster signed for United in 1999 and then penned a professional deal a year later.

    He would go on to have loan spells away at Crewe, Colchester and Bradford before heading north of the border to Livingston in 2005.

    Fair to say that Tierney didn’t fulfill the potential Ferguson felt he had, although he was trying to break into a side that went on to win a hat-trick of league titles.

    Kieran Richardson

    Perhaps not gifted enough to be a regular at United but certainly good enough to make the grade in the Premier League, we’ll give Ferguson half a point for this one.

    He was on the books at Old Trafford for five years, scoring six times in 36 games during the 2005/06 season.

    But he was loaned out to West Brom before spells at Sunderland, Fulham and Aston Villa.

    Richardson scored a memorable winner for the Black Cats in the Tyne derby at the Stadium of Light. 

    Kieran Richardson spent much of his career in the top flight

    John O’Shea

    By no means an integral part of United’s success but still deserving of a place in the first team squad.

    O’Shea spent over a decade at Old Trafford and made 393 appearances for the club as he picked up five league titles and a Champions League winners medal.

    The Irishman scored a late winner for United in front of the Kop at Anfield which was crucial in their 2006/07 title success.

    John O’Shea won the Champions League

    Michael Stewart

    14 years after Ferguson’s prediction Stewart was lining up to run in the 2015 general election for the Scottish National Party.

    Not a career that went as he may have planned then after leaving United in 2005, playing for both Edinburgh clubs.

    Stewart’s game time at United came about due to an injury to captain Roy Keane, but when a full squad was available he struggled to get a look in.

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