Youth development has been something of a speciality at Old Trafford. From the Busby Babes to Fergie’s Fledglings when United bring through a youth player they are usually of high standard.
There have been a high number of high profile players to have passed through the door and whilst they have gone on to make the grade elsewhere they weren’t deemed to be able to make the grade at Old Trafford so that goes to show how high the standards are here.
The last high profile players to have made it here were Darren Fletcher and John O’Shea and whilst the likes of Kiko Macheda are carving out career for themselves I wouldn’t say they have made it yet. Fletcher and O’Shea made it through to the first team a fair while ago and since then a number of players who many would have thought to be certainties to make it here have not so again it shows how high the standards are at Old Trafford.
In recent times with talk of financial problems there has been a very vocal section of fans calling for youth to be given a chance if we can’t compete in the transfer market and it was only a matter of time before it was added to the club’s agenda. I’m sure I don’t have to remind anyone of the club’s official line when we didn’t sign Adem Ljajic,
“We had an option to buy the player but, having closely monitored his development over the past 12 months, and taken into consideration the young players emerging through the ranks at the club, we have not chosen to pursue the transfer,”
Whilst no one has broken into the first team since then, Ljajic has gone on to shine at Fiorentina scoring and creating goals. Today David Gill has come out with the official line:
“What Manchester United has been about ever since the 1950s when Sir Matt Busby was there was encouraging youth players, investing in the youth players and that’s always been part of how we’ve structured it. We’ve never tended to buy world-class players, we’ve made them into world-class players through Alex Ferguson and his coaches and playing in a great team.”
It’s true, we as a club haven’t tended to go out and buy world class players it’s a rare instances. Ronaldo wasn’t world class when we bought him but he developed into a top player as has Nani and Rooney despite the money we spent on them. At the moment we have a number of top players in and around the club, Danny Welbeck is showing his quality at Sunderland, Chris Smalling has just been called up to the England squad and Tom Cleverley is an undoubted talent and Kiko Macheda’s goal on Saturday is just the latest step in the young Italian’s development.
Beneath them there are the likes of Eikrem (last time we mention him, promise), Morrison, Corry Evans, King etc who are on the precipice of the first team.
Of course with the past track record, I’m being very idealistic if I think all of these players will make it here but a percentage of them will forge some sort of career at Old Trafford. We may not be bringing in big money signings but if we can bring in the right kind of quality as we did in terms of Javier Hernandez and blend them with the quality young players we are developing here, we might not be in as bad a position as it is thought, it’s just a case of giving this youth a chance.