Ferguson faith rewarded by young guns

Only time will tell whether Manchester United's current crop of youngsters come anywhere near emulating the likes of David Beckham and Paul Scholes but there are encouraging signs at Old Trafford.

Midfielder Darron Gibson's two goals against a strong Tottenham Hotspur side in the League Cup on Tuesday capped a fine display by a side containing several fringe players and vindicated manager Alex Ferguson's strong defence of his youngsters after the home Champions League defeat by Besiktas.

Gibson struck twice in the first half as United strolled into the semi-finals of the competition they won last year and Ferguson said the 22-year-old Irishman would be given another chance whoever they are drawn against.

United's side had an unfamiliar look about it at Old Trafford with Ritchie De Laet playing at left back, Danny Welbeck up front and Gabriel Obertan out wide.

Italian teenager Federico Macheda and Serbian Zoran Tosic also came off the bench to further underline the young talent that Ferguson has at his disposal.

"I think they (the young players) are gaining playing in these matches, they're definitely getting better," Ferguson said after Tuesday's game. "I thought they did very well."

Ferguson's selection on Tuesday was very similar to last week's when United lost 1-0 to Turkey's Besiktas, a defeat which prompted questions about the club's youth policy.

"I played six players - two 18-year-olds, a 19-year-old, a 20-year-old and two 21-year-olds - in a European game and you say 'there's no future for them'," Ferguson had fumed after his players were criticised for the Besiktas defeat.

"It's unbelievable. I have their futures mapped out.

"When (David) Beckham, (Nicky) Butt, (Paul) Scholes and all those lads made their debuts as a group they were 22 years of age, three years ahead of these players."

Ferguson was blessed with an exceptional pool of youngsters in the 1990s when Beckham, Scholes, Gary and Phil Neville and Nicky Butt all broke into the first team to herald a golden decade for United as they dominated English football.

The purse strings appear to have been tightened at Old Trafford, with Antonio Valencia the only big signing in the close season after the 80 million pounds exit of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid.

Gibson believes the performance on Tuesday may convince Ferguson that the squad does not need any major additions in the the January transfer window.

"I think there was pressure on the youngsters to prove we are good enough to play at their level. I think we showed we're capable of doing that and overall we deserved the win," he told United website.