The Class of ’92: A perfect script

Team shot CO92

“The first time I played with them,” said Bryan Robson of Manchester United’s Class of ’92. “You’re thinking ‘right, I’m gonna have to look after a couple of them.’ Well, I think it was in the first five minutes, Scholesy smashes one of their centre-halves, then you’ve got Gary Neville belting their winger all over the place [and] we get a free-kick from about 20 yards out and Becks goes ‘er, Robbo, I take these.’”

This was truly a special bunch, as United’s then captain had quickly found out. Indeed, so special were they that Robson’s recollection of these players some two decades later featured in a video tribute, shown on the night they, and those that helped mould them, were handed a PFA merit award. Just in case this accolade, to go along with several career trophies, doesn’t do the six famous academy graduates justice – they are, if you’ve somehow forgotten, David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Phil and Gary Neville – there is also a film.

Apprehension is to be expected when telling a story that’s been told plenty, but it’s not so much a problem for something like The Class of ’92, because, quite simply, people like to hear about it no matter how often they’ve actually heard about it. And yet, even without the pressure of having to find a fresh angle, they do anyway, achieving full access with the players – and those that didn’t quite cut it at United – that goes well beyond talking heads. This is where the documentary’s lasting appeal is found: they use these personalities remarkably well. The action is secondary, not supported but used to support. It’s the story of six working-class lads united by their having of the same things and their wanting of the same things. And it’s pretty great to watch.


Having failed to get past the group stages of 1994’s Champions League, there was much for United to lament. But there was also a lot to look forward to: a 4-0 win to round off a mixed campaign over bogey-team Galatasaray was impressive on its own, but more so because United had turned to youth. “We have to develop or buy more English players,” Eric Cantona cooed post-match, addressing the restriction on foreign players that existed then. “But we have a good school of young players and they may be the answer.” Cantona had clearly seen something in a game where 19-year-olds Beckham, Butt and Gary Neville had started, the former making his début and scoring. The following morning, Rob Hughes of the Times was still unsure, posing a legitimate question: “We have enjoyed a glimpse of United’s future. It is full of promise of youth, but when will we see it reach manhood?”

That maturity process is key to the film, to their story. The 1992 Youth Cup triumph represented a lot – especially to Nicky Butt, who puts it “on par” with everything else he’s won – but there was still much to do, Beckham asserting that one trophy is “never enough”. Raphael Burke, supposedly as good as anyone else in that set but failing to make it any further, remarked of the “sacrifice” the six players had made. Gary Neville left his friends behind completely, a career at United more important. It clearly did something, since Neville, at one point, “was nowhere near as talented – technically – as all the other boys”, according to Eric Harrison. It is perhaps the most extreme example, but recognised that before a Treble could be won, or an appearance in Europe could be made, only putting in more than enough was enough.

Gary Neville, it should be said, didn’t exactly have little go his way: he was still the “leader” of the group, a future Manchester United captain for all to see. Phil, with slightly more natural ability, shared his older brother’s dedication (and his tendency to keep talking – and was why Jaap Stam affectionately referred to them as “busy c-nts” in his autobiography). David Beckham, the one from London, didn’t have to worry about adjusting because his obvious talent had seen him through; Ryan Giggs was a “down-to-earth superstar”, Phil Neville thought, and Scholes was just Scholes. Introducing him to Harrison, as noted in Ian Marshall’s book, Brian Kidd told him: “He’s only tiny; he’s got ginger hair – you’ll probably have a bit of a laugh. But he can’t half play.” Scholes emerges as the star of the feature: there is the impression that he’d rather be elsewhere, but he’s still got a lot to say. Having to collect his Champions League winners’ medal in a suit, he spoke of the embarrassment he felt, admitting he’d “rather just gone in the dressing room and waited, really.”

While logic dictates most praise should go to Giggs, Beckham or Scholes, it’s distributed as evenly as can serve the story. The audience can rank for themselves: in the end, the most important thing is the Class. “Everyone looked after each other,” Butt points out. The midfielder is given his dues, and it’s one of the things the film doesn’t necessarily have to do, but does it so well. Butt’s contribution cannot be forgotten, especially in ’98/99, where he was something of a Big Game Player, Alex Ferguson often preferring him to Scholes. His exit in 2004 was notable for the way it was handled compared to those other high-profile footballers: “Nicky has given Manchester United great service,” was the manager’s response to a transfer request. On that note, it’s a shame Ferguson didn’t make an appearance beyond archived footage.

The appreciation of the other’s achievements is best shown when the players get together and simply reminisce. They provide commentary on the pivotal moments in 1999: the “turning point” that was the turnaround at home to Liverpool in the FA Cup, the final league game against Spurs and then Bayern Munich. It’s the bouncing off of each other, the quiet reflection, the laughter that meets the anecdotes about Ferguson that makes this particularly pleasant. They were teammates, but also, and still are, just friends.

These friends didn’t just prosper by themselves, and it’s great that the film doesn’t build to something false. Fergie was the person who put it all into place, United’s scouting system three times bigger within a month at his command. Once the players arrived, coaches Kidd and Harrison helped guide them. “The standard of coaching we’d receive was out of this world for fourteen-year-old kids,” wrote Gary Neville in Red. In a recent interview with the Telegraph, Giggs gives Harrison much credit: “It was built in us from Eric Harrison that you practise, practise, practise. My crossing was crap when I was younger. I wanted to improve my crossing.” And when United won the Double in the 1995/96 season, it was, says Scholes, mostly down to the senior players. “We had all these top players who got the young lads through it.” Zinedine Zidane, who makes an appearance, praised this potent mix of youth and experience, seeing it first hand in Turin, April ’99.

If there is one misstep, it’s in the eagerness to create social and cultural parallels. It’s done well, mainly; Trainspotting director Danny Boyle and Mani from the Stone Roses are useful in providing context, the former noting how Manchester took government disinterest to reinvent itself, and how United were a “symbol” of that. Mani, meanwhile, is good comic relief. The problem exists with the third non-footballing person to chime in. For something that’s focus is the years 1992-1999, it’s difficult to ignore Tony Blair, but they should have done anyway. New Labour, essentially repackaged Thatcherism, was hardly an example of a change taking place: and, in the end, represented very little for a lot of people. Blair is given a halo only briefly, however, and, that being about the only blemish, the film gets back to fulfilling its purpose.

That purpose is to show the great camaraderie which gave birth to a timeless modern football story: something to tell and retell. Eric Cantona glows in his praise of the “perfect script” – with a cast just as perfect to boot.

5/5 - It’s amazing how merely the sight of the word ‘Aeroflot’ in a shot of the Holy Trinity statue could lead to such longing.


The Class of ’92: shown in selected cinemas on December 1st and available on DVD from December 2nd.

About these ads

22 responses to “The Class of ’92: A perfect script”

  1. hair loss black book pdf free download says :

    I have been surfing online more than 2 hours today,
    yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty worth enough
    for me. In my view, if all website owners and bloggers made good
    content as you did, the internet will be a lot more useful than ever before.

  2. community home care and hospice roanoke rapids nc says :

    So, the drinks you drink baking soda and drinking home care grass,
    the researchers considered invasive, expensive dinner date?
    Some women appear to be to mention the ubiquity of Turkey’s flags, placed carefully behind the ears.

  3. Shu Henkensiefken says :

    Askimg questions are really good thing if you are not understanding anything entirely, however this piece of writing
    provides nice understanding even.

  4. cash net usa states says :

    Very nice post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and
    wanted to mention that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your weblog posts.
    In any case I will be subscribing on your feed and I am hoping you write once more soon!

  5. heroes of dragon age cheats engine says :

    If you want to whore themselves plugged into a responsible adult as he/she learns
    to help children that are only made for eternity.
    He feels that heroes of dragon age hack there was a big Nascar
    fan and gamer like me, and the officers and NCO’s also have to wait until the early 1980s.

  6. mutants genetic gladiators hack iphone says :

    Wii is by placing a cute factor mutants genetic gladiators hack to the Playstation genre
    are PS2, Goldeneye 007 N64, shifted from the game. It has a
    busy year for new editors is to enable men and women to be part of life.

  7. says :

    I have read so many content concerning thee blobger lovers except this post is genuinely a good post, keep it up.

  8. says :

    Ahaa, its nice dialogue concerning this article at this place at this weblog, I have read
    aall that, sso at this time me also commenting at
    tis place.

  9. World Of Warriors Trucchi says :

    If some one needs expert view concerning blogging and site-building after that i advise him/her to go to see this blog, Keep up the good job.

  10. AP Tipps says :

    Not sure what all of these other inane comments are all about, but I saw this film recently and have to say it was one of the best football documentaries ever. Great to get know the players off the pitch.

    A recommended watch.

  11. sextreffen in Hamburg says :

    I read thhis article completely concerning the resemblance of hottest aand
    earlier technologies, it’s remarkable article.

  12. nedves punci says :

    What i do not understood is actually how you are no longer really
    a lot more neatly-appreciated than you might be now. You’re very intelligent.

    You know therefore considerably on the subject of this matter, produced me in my opinion consider it from
    numerous varied angles. Its like women and men are not involved except it’s something to accomplish with Woman gaga!
    Your personal stuffs excellent. Always care for it up!

  13. exercicios para perder barriga says :

    Many of the homebuyers tend to miscalculate the amount of money they borrow, most of the time,
    overestimating them, because they think that their income will increase after several years
    and that will make the mortgage payment be more comfortable for
    them as the time goes by. For instance, if you want granite countertops because
    you dont like the Formica, the lender is not going to pay for that.

    ‘With 175 reservations made in the program’s first 14 days, it’s truly gratifying
    to see this program help real people realize their dream of home ownership, helping them to build a better future and leading to a stronger overall economy in Illinois.
    We hear a very good deal about how the government is offering grants and financial assistance but perhaps the most promising among these presents is the first
    time home buyers grants. That would mean you
    are taking on a $180k mortgage. Dan has brought with him some really, really interesting facts and figures for people who are wondering whats happening, wondering if we are at the bottom of the market, wondering how much further we are going to have
    to go.

  14. Lenvi Review says :

    I used to be suggested this web site via my
    cousin. I am not certain whether this submit is written via him as nobody
    else recognise such targeted about my trouble. You are amazing!

    Thank you!

  15. white oak star rails says :

    In order to avert this, you need to remove all doors and drawers before contemplating
    treatment of units. The right kitchen countertop can certainly produce a big difference in the method that you call at your kitchen, and making the proper
    selection for your requirements may also cause
    you to desire to cook with greater frequency or really make
    use of kitchen like a family gathering place. The shower
    curtain has decorations and patterns in as well as on it.

  16. says :

    There are various ways through which you may keep your hair looking
    shiny, fresh, strong and abundant looking. Here are some tips that should help with daily styling.

    Be careful, do not touch the plates and make sure you have somewhere safe to
    put them down while you un-clip the hair during straighten the sections.

  17. watch chappie trailer says :

    My brother suggested I would possibly like this web site. He used to be entirely right.

    This publish truly made my day. You can not consider
    just how a lot time I had spent for this info! Thanks!

  18. dungeon hunter 4 hack online says :

    I have had Dungeon Hunter 4 hack no root required for a while and I am wonderful with succes charge of this hack.

  19. website says :

    When someone writes an post he/she keeps the plan of a user
    in his/her mind that how a user can know it.
    So that’s why this article is great. Thanks!

  20. Gluco Health says :

    It’s actually a nice and useful piece of info. I’m satisfied
    that you simply shared this helpful information with us.
    Please keep us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 29,998 other followers

%d bloggers like this: