For the few who might not know, The Class of ’92 was a group of kids who loved football, were recruited by Manchester United at an early age, rose up the ranks of the youth teams, and finally made the first team. In 1992, David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville won the FA Youth Cup. Paul Scholes was an FA Youth Cup finalist in 1993 and Phil Neville, Gary’s brother, captained the team to the FA Youth Cup in 1995. Collectively they’re referred to in this film as the Class of ’92 that went on to win the Double (FA Cup and the League Title) in 1996 and the Treble (the double plus the Champions League ) in 1999. The central narrative is to prove how wrong Alan Hansen was when he asserted that ‘You can’t win anything with kids’ and to show what good friends these kids were and continue to be.
The film is an unabashed exercise in nostalgia and mythmaking. Tony Blair appears to praise the achievements of the players but also to big up the Blair Years in which those achievements took place. Danny Boyle who know a thing or two about legends, iconicity and the mobilizing of imagery into myth-making, speaks here about what Man U meant to his family and what the success of the club meant to the city. Mani of The Stone Roses and Primal Scream waxes nostalgic about Manchester in those times and lyrical about the players’ achievements. It’s like mixing Louis VIX’s search for ‘la gloire’ with some ‘I was born in a schack’ US narrative of success brought about by will and work and discipline.
As a movie, it’s not much. As an analysis, it’s pretty basic – we don’t understand anything any better than we did at the beginning of the film. Plus I’m pretty sick of all the bloody nostalgia for the ‘Hacienda’ days which to me is just old men kidding themselves that their youth was better than anybody else’s. However, it’s a very enjoyable watch for football fans. These icons speak to each other like the friends they are and seem human and knowable in their interactions. Moreover, we get to see some of the great moments in football of the last two decades and get the perspective of those who created them. Cantona, who’s now acting in movies, appears in order to praise. Zinédine Zidane, more glamorous and charismatic than all the rest of them put together, also pops up to eulogize. As a movie, it’s something one might have expected Sky Sports to quickly paste up for endless replay. But it must be said that the reason these types of films re-play is because we simply can’t get enough of them.