Manchester United’s next generation provided a glimmer of hope at the end of a troubled season as they won the FA Youth Cup in front of a competition record crowd on Wednesday.
While United’s senior stars have laboured through a dismal campaign that sees them languishing in sixth place in the Premier League, the crop of youngsters emerging from the club’s academy could provide a brighter future.
Alejandro Garnacho was the hero for United’s Under-18 side as they beat Nottingham Forest 3-1 to win their first FA Youth Cup since 2011.
There were 67,492 in attendance at Old Trafford, smashing the competition’s previous record of 38,187.
United captain Rhys Bennett’s opener was cancelled out when Joshua Powell’s shot beat Radek Vitek just before half-time.
But Travis Binnion’s team were not to be denied and Garnacho replicated Cristiano Ronaldo’s celebration after firing home a penalty.
The 17-year-old netted again with deflected stoppage-time effort to seal the trophy.
He made his first-team debut last month, having starred on the run to United’s 11th FA Youth Cup triumph.
Former United manager Alex Ferguson was in the stands to cheer on the youngsters alongside ex-players Bryan Robson and Michael Carrick, as well as David de Gea, Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes from Ralf Rangnick’s current squad.
A banner reading the ‘Class of 22’ was held up in the Stretford End at full-time.
Although it is too soon to compare this generation to United’s famous ‘Class of 92’ featuring David Beckham, Paul Scholes and the Neville brothers, for one night at least fans could dream of better days to come.