In light of Franz Beckenbauer’s comments on the English national team it does raise questions on English football. I have previously looked at how football is taught on the continent in comparison to other here and truth be told there are areas that we are lacking.
It’s well documented that Arsenal’s Steve Bould has gone out of his way to study how youth football is taught on the continent using Holland and Spain as an example and it has paid dividends for them as Bould used a team of mainly London based players to do a league and FA Youth cup double last season.
When it comes to youth players United are as blessed as any team. Our youth and reserve teams both experienced success this past season and the way the academy has been set up with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Paul McGuinness, Warren Joyce and Brian McClair amongst others means we should see this success continue for many more years.
Former United players can be seen playing integral roles at clubs at various different standards with Gerard Pique, Guiseppe Rossi, Ryan Shawcross, Frazier Campbell and Danny Guthrie having all been on the club’s books so I’m under no illusion we can create the players to get the job done.
We’ve done it before with Jim Murphy and the Busby Babes as well as Eric Harrison and Fergie’s Fledglings but in this modern game, it seems money talks and purchasing players is as integral to cultivating your own but there are exceptions. Bayern Munich were one of this past season’s success stories doing a league and cup double and missing out on a treble in losing the European Cup to Inter Milan.
People will look to the likes Robben and Ribery as the cause of that success but the likes of Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Muller and Badstuber provided a basis for the team to work from. These players were all products of Bayern Munich’s youth set up and over time Bayern’s introduction of them into the first team has borne fruit.
Bayern have seen this and are continuing their faith in youngsters, the likes of David Alaba, Diego Conteto and Mehmet Ekici have or will make waves in the first team having progressed through their youth ranks under the watchful eyes of Gerd Muller, Mehmet Scholl, Werner Kern and Björn Andersson . Toni Kroos was the star of Germany’s 2007 u-17 team and although he signed from Hansa Rostock’s youth team he continued his tutelage at Bayern Munich until he was ready to play for the first team. He was sent on loan to Leverkusen this season but Bayern have been extremely vocal in declaring that they have big plans for him and will return to the first team next season having picked up vital experience.
So if it has worked for Bayern why can’t it work for us?
Josh King was given a late run out last season against Wolves in the Carling Cup and Magnus Eikrem was given a first team squad number and was also on the bench in the same game. Tom Cleverley was undoubtedly Watford’s star player this past season and is now being talked about as a possible loan signing for Newcastle but he could equally do a job for us here at Old Trafford.
Corry Evans, Davide Petrucci, Paul Pogba, Ravel Morrison, Matt James, Kiko Macheda, Danny Welbeck etc the list goes on in terms of players who have, could or are close to making the jump to the first team. Of course there is no guarantee these players will all make the grade but they have all shown enough talent and promise to suggest that it is a strong possibility.
If the money at the club is as tight as we are being lead to believe we don’t need to degrade ourselves by looking at washed up players. Instead we can go back to ways of old and make the stars rather than be worried about whether we can or can’t afford them.