PEP GUARDIOLA has issued a challenge to his Etihad golden boys: Show me you can be my Class of ’92.
Manchester City’s cast of global all-stars have enjoyed an unrivalled reign as the shining lights of English football.
The 34-year-old Silva is in his final year at the club, Fernandinho is closing in on his 35th birthday, hotshot striker Aguero is 31 and talisman Vincent Kompany left last summer after 11 years ruling the defence.
Guardiola faces a big rebuild over the coming seasons and an almighty challenge to fill their boots.
But that does not necessarily mean splashing out hundreds of millions of pounds on off-the-peg superstars.
For while City have never been slow to spend, they are beginning to see a return on the money they have pumped into their Academy system.
GAUNTLET THROWN DOWN
Local boys Tommy Doyle, 18, and 17-year-old Taylor Harwood-Bellis — who were both spotted in the City end celebrating Tuesday’s Carabao Cup win at Manchester United — are just two of those emerging.
Spanish centre-back Eric Garcia has already been given his chance in the team — and he only turned 19 three days ago.
And the shining light of the lot is Phil Foden, still only 19 but already being tipped as a mainstay of the England midfield for years to come.
Boss Pep knows there are no guarantees they will all live up to their promise but the gauntlet has been thrown down for them.
And if they continue to progress, there is no reason why they should not do what David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Gary and Phil Neville did at United and go from youth ranks to Premier League giants.
Guardiola insisted: “I would like to say yes but I really don’t know because it is hard to say what young players will do in the future.
“Obviously they are City fans and when I saw the clip of them in the stand at Old Trafford, supporting us, it was good — and they are all mates.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen because it is about how they develop to be better players.
“Hopefully, they will do it because it is good when the players have a relationship like that with the club. But we have to try and find the replacements, or build them from here. It is our obligation as a club.”
Guardiola has already seen how a top youth set-up can bear fruit from his days at the Nou Camp, in the likes of Barcelona fans Sergio Busquets, Xavi and Gerard Pique breaking through.
‘CLUB IS SO DEMANDING’
He would love nothing better than to do the same at the Etihad — but admitted the pressure of staying at the top makes it a tough ask.
The City chief added: “I would like to help the young players here in the same way but this is a club that is so demanding — you have to win games.
“Even when you win four titles here it isn’t enough, that is the truth.
“We won four trophies last season and it wasn’t enough because we didn’t win the Champions League.
“That is the reality and the young players here have to compete against incredible central defenders and midfielders.
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“It is a tough reality but, at the end, it depends on what they do. I have two eyes but when someone is really special and we think they can do it, then they will have a chance.
“It’s really difficult at important clubs where the demand is to win all the titles but I’m a big fan of respecting the process with young guys.
“The thing is, we have the tendency, in all countries, that after two games he will be the new Wayne Rooney, George Best or Beckham. I just think a little bit of time is needed.”