By Vicky Besley Follow @footie_lass
Manchester United has always been a club that is famous for promoting young players and one where our youth have been evident in the first team squads in times gone by. With some of the modern greats like Beckham, Giggs, Neville and Scholes coming from our own youth academy it’s always been seen as a great source of new rising talent for the club.
However now we are in 2012 and we see some of the young talented players such as Fryers, Pogba and of course Morrison leaving the club. We must ask why? Some may say they have no regard for the club or for the manager or for the history. Some may say that their wage demands were just too high but surely if they are so talented then United themselves would have relented and given into their wage demands, but then I ask why should we?
Why should a club of United’s stature be brought down to accepting young unproven players wage demands? Of course we have a good youth squad so surely there will be more great youngsters breaking through; but are these kids really worth breaking our rules and wage structures for?
Are we in fact a club that is guilty of our own success stories, do the youngsters believe we will automatically give them what they want regardless of their demands? Is our youth system just too good, which is leading to other leading clubs in both the premier league and in Europe looking at our youth team players before they even make it to the first team, which in turn gives the players ammunition to have the club where they want us. If this is in fact true then youngsters will soon get a tough realization when the board and Sir Alex allow them to walk away from the club, from the club that gave them the tools to be the footballers they are in the first place.
In truth there isn’t just one reason for the youth leaving the club, there could be a countless amount of reasons, but ultimately they (or possibly more accurately their agents) make the choice to walk away from the club, I ask one question: how many have walked away and have gone on to be a success?
When talking about Paul Pogba and to quote Sir Alex directly he said: “You hope he gets the right advice, but it’s down to the individual also. Matt Busby summed it up perfectly, that you don’t need to chase money at a club like Manchester United, it will eventually find you. “If you’re good enough, you will earn money and become rich playing for Manchester United. “It’s one of these situations that they can chase the money early in their career, but at the end, it’s not the same as if they’d stayed here. He just needs to look round about him to realise that.”
He could also have applied that to Ravel Morrison although I believe there were other factors in releasing him to West Ham, his well documented off field antics for example.
We can look at our current first team squad and see some of our very own players from the youth team who have come through, whether they stay when their contracts are up is open for debate but that’s for the club and them and their agents to decide. We also see young talent from other clubs joining because they realise what United have to offer them in terms of facilities and the knowledge that Sir Alex is never afraid to give youth a chance. So in truth it suggests that we have not lost our spirit we are just going in a different direction.
Sir Alex Ferguson always wanted a home grown striker and finally he got his wish in young Danny Welbeck. A young lad from the Longsight area of Manchester who has worked hard and worked himself up through the ranks, training with the likes of Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, I expect never truly believing he would play with them on the field yet his hard work and determination has paid off. He went on loan in 2010 to Preston North End and then to Sunderland for the 2010-2011 season and he matured as a player and in a relegation fight he found himself scoring some vital goals. He came back to United and in this past season 2011-2012 has become an important player not just for club but for country too. He came through our youth team but does he want to stay? Time will tell. Should he stay? Yes, I believe he has everything in him to become a United legend in years to come if he continues to work hard and learn his trade off the manager and the senior players.
Tom Cleverley is another United youngster who has been at the club for many years after he was snapped up from Bradford City at the age of 12. He has worked hard and moved his way up through the ranks at United. He also went on loan, first to Leicester City then to Watford where he showed his worth for the club with some excellent performances. He came back to United but unfortunately suffered an injury but he worked hard to build up his fitness and was then sent back out on loan, this time to Wigan Athletic, where again he had a good season and Roberto Martinez wanted to sign him permanently. At the end of his loan spell though he was quoted as saying, “ I’m going back to United” surely a future great for United in the making and one that proves that fighting spirit instilled into the players by Sir Alex is not lost on our youth recruits.
We must also look at those on the edge of first team football for example the Kean twins who are playing well and seemingly have no desire to leave United. Will was about to be handed a first team squad number and first team games by Sir Alex until he was unfortunate enough to sustain a similar injury to our captain, which has ruled him out for a number of months. I, however, do believe he will come back to United stronger and get his chance at first team football. He has the talent and seemingly the desire to stay at United.
Another youth player Ryan Tunnicliffe went on loan to Peterborough United and played well and impressed his manager Darren Ferguson so much that he expressed an interest in signing him but he also chose to return to Manchester United to pursue a career with the club.
We should now look at some players who are not part of our own Academy but have chose to come to Old Trafford at a young age because they want to work with a club with history and they want to receive the guidance from Sir Alex, his back room staff and some of the greatest players such as Scholes and Giggs. Those are, David De Gea at 20 years old chose to leave Spain and come to Manchester to play for a club he truly believed he had a future with. Phil Jones at the tender at age of 19 came to Manchester because he wanted to play for a great club. More recently we look at Nick Powell coming to Manchester from Crewe Alexandra, his main reason for coming to United, Sir Alex.
You’ll hear many of the new young signings admit Sir Alex is one of the reasons for coming to Manchester, why is this? Because he believes in the youth just as much today just as he did when he joined the club, when he had the class of ’92 and before that ‘Fergies Fledglings’. The dynamics have changed in football but Sir Alex still has one true love and that is the youth in football, whether that be from our own academy or bringing in young players from other clubs to develop, and some turn out to be one of the greatest footballers in modern football i.e. Ronaldo and he came to Manchester as an unknown 18 year old kid and with the support from Sir Alex and his backroom staff he has become a world phenomenon at the age of 27 and even now he still has a special place in his heart for Manchester United and sir Alex as the fans do for him.
I guess the ultimate question is not about the club, the players or the money but are the youth scared of the future? A future without the man many of them joined the club for? That man being Sir Alex Ferguson. We know from current and past legends just how influential he has been in their choice of signing for us with him being “like a father figure.”
The future without Sir Alex is something I’m sure many reds have contemplated and are contemplating but maybe so are our youth players? He is, after all, Manchester United. He, like Giggs and Scholes cannot go on forever and is the future of Manchester United something that the youth are scared of?
If recent signings are anything to go by then I would say not, the arrival of Nick Powell from Crewe Alexandra at the age of 18, Sean Goss from Exeter City at aged only 16, goalkeeper Joel Castro Pereira also at 16 and even Shinji Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund at aged 23 shows that young players are still attracted to Manchester United for they know that they will be given the best training, sports science and most importantly advice from some of the best people in the game.
Red Army is Britain’s biggest Manchester United Magazine.
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