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Review: 'The Class of '92'

Sports Mole gives its verdict on the Manchester United-themed documentary The Class of '92.

The treble-winning exploits of Manchester United's 1998-99 side is the stuff of legend, a footballing feat that shook the world and left Alan Hansen ruing the day he uttered the phrase "you'll never win anything with kids".

More than a decade-and-a-half has elapsed since that momentous night in Barcelona capped off a dream season for the Red Devils, but the crowning achievement of a young David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and co is still widely discussed today.

Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, David Beckham, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville pose for a team shot during a photoshoot for the documentary 'The Class of '92'

The Class of '92 is a new documentary from directors Ben and Gabe Turner that shines the spotlight on that very team, charting their rise from fresh-faced academy graduates to a group of world-beaters.

Beckham, Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, Phil Neville and Nicky Butt are the stars of the show, each speaking candidly about their careers between 1992 and 1999, delivering previously unheard anecdotes and giving fans a taster of what it was really like playing under Sir Alex Ferguson during that golden era.

Paul Scholes during a photoshoot for the documentary 'The Class of '92'

While this might sound like a documentary aimed solely at United supporters, the quality of the filmmaking and the interviews that serve as the spine of the project make it accessible to a wider audience.

The film wastes no time stirring up 1990s zeitgeist, whisking the viewer back in time with recycled news footage and iconic tunes from bands such as Oasis, the Stone Roses and The Charlatans.

Beckham, Giggs, Scholes, Butt and both Nevilles all have segments of the film dedicated to them, but the memories they share involve constant name-dropping of each other, giving the project an ensemble feel, which is apt given how effective they were as a team.

Gary Neville during a photoshoot for the documentary 'The Class of '92'

Class of '92 is by no means a series of commonplace interviews and stock footage woven together into an expanded piece; the tales that the players have to tell are often deeply personal and insightful.

Beckham speaking openly about the low point of his career - his infamous sending-off for kicking Diego Simeone during the 1998 World Cup - is a particularly interesting and emotionally-charged sequence.

David Beckham during a photoshoot for the documentary 'The Class of '92'

Even the usually-subdued Scholes has a hilarious story about being locked in a kitbag to share, and it's good to see everyone given virtually equal screen time. Giggs and Beckham may have had more colourful careers, but the others were just as integral to the treble-winning side.

Some of the best scenes Class of '92 has to offer are those involving all seven of the teammates, casually sitting around a table swapping stories from the glory days. These sequences come across as both natural and genuine, and highlight the group's close friendship off the pitch.

Ryan Giggs during a photoshoot for the documentary 'The Class of '92'

The Turners have sought out a wide range of sources to deliver a balanced and multi-angled view of United's favourite sons.

Eric Cantona and Zinedine Zidane provide perspectives from both within and outside of the dressing room, while acclaimed director Danny Boyle and Stone Roses bassist Mani discuss how the team's success impacted on British culture during the 1990s.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair even features as a talking head, weighing in on United's influence on the UK as a whole with limited insight, but the absence of fresh footage of Sir Alex leaves a gaping hole in Class of '92.

Youth team coach Eric Harrison is quite rightly hailed as the man who unearthed the young talent, but the Scot's role in securing the treble cannot be overstated, and he would certainly have provided some interesting counterpoints to what the players had to say under the spotlight.

Fergie-shaped holes aside, Class of '92 is an insightful look at the beautiful game that will have something to offer whether you are an avid United supporter, or merely enjoy a good old-fashioned tale of camaraderie.

The Class Of '92 is out in selected cinemas on December 1 and DVD on December 2.


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David Beckham in action for LA Galaxy on July 30, 2011.
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