LONDON Paul Scholes played the last time Manchester United lost at Aston Villa and 17 years on the midfield maestro was there again as his team summoned the spirit of the late 1990s to avoid a new defeat on Saturday.
The reverse in August 1995, when United boss Alex Ferguson decided to throw in fresh-faced youngsters including Scholes, David Beckham and Gary Neville, was famously derided at the time by television pundit Alan Hansen.
His taunt that "you can't win anything with kids" came back to haunt him as United's new generation formed a major part of their 1999 European Cup and treble-winning team.
Though Scholes, 37, and Ryan Giggs, 38, are the only players still around from that time, the current squad is beginning to resemble the 1999 version.
Mexican substitute Javier Hernandez scored two and claimed a deflected third in the 3-2 win at Villa, where United fought back from conceding two Andreas Weimann goals to top the Premier League table by four points.
"I think he'll be playing next week," Ferguson told Sky Sports after 'Chicharito' came on at halftime to turn the game.
"He is fantastic in the penalty box, his movement, his quickness and being in space."
Hernandez's goal-poaching ability and "super sub" tag mirror the traits of Norwegian Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who scored the winning goal in the last-gasp 1999 Champions League final win over Bayern Munich.
United have also arguably not boasted four strikers as strong as Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Hernandez since the 1999 quartet of Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Teddy Sheringham and Solskjaer.
The other big similarity to 1999 is their current penchant for comebacks, with eight already this season.
"We put pressure on ourselves today but we got through it," Ferguson added.
"I admire (the comebacks), I admire the tenacity of the performance and when they need to do it, they do it. Our attacking play is terrific at times."
(Editing by Stephen Wood)
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