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A Perfect Script? Manchester United’s Class of ’92

The Class of ’92 is a documentary film featuring six Manchester United F.C. players who recount their time during a pivotal period for the club, English football and English society. The documentary claims to offer a commentary on Britain in the 1990s, but appears, without acknowledging the fact, to be a promotional vehicle to establish the six men as a brand labeled the Class of ’92 (CO92). Creating this brand necessarily involved presenting a selective account of their time and places with the film being little more than an advertisement, masquerading as an observational documentary. The film draws freely upon the symbolic capital held by the club and the city of Manchester and uses the Busby Babes/Munich chapter and the more recent “Madchester scene” to forge the Class of ’92 brand by editing out those elements that did not accord with this project. The article argues that a more complete representation of ’90s Britain, while disrupting the intended narrative, would acknowledge the significant structural and commercial changes experienced by the club, the sport, and the city in the last decade of the 20th century. We suggest that the Class of ’92 invites the viewer to consider how the documentary film genre can contribute to brand development and promotion.