When Alex Ferguson took over at Manchester United in 1986 one of his first ideas was to reform the once famous, but by then flagging youth system.
Players like Billy Garton and Deiniol Graham were graduating from the system but not exactly taking the game by storm. In the late 80’s early 90’s, Ferguson’s reformed youth system began to trickle players into the first team with limited success, providing more fringe players than first team regulars.
This all changed in the mid 90’s when the class of Scholes, the Nevilles, Giggs and Beckham fame came through to the first team with Wes Brown, John O’Shea and Darren Fletcher all following suit throughout the years. The youth system has turned global, with young players being attracted from all over the world, and with the quality of graduates now the setup must be close to being self funding.
One thing seems to be missing though, and that is the lack of quality strikers to come through and made the grade (this is discounting Paul Scholes, who came through the system as a forward but became one of the worlds best midfielders). Plenty have shown promise at youth level but not been able to step up. Plenty have come close and have gone on to have successful careers in the lower leagues and a couple have even gone on to international success, with David Healy holding the Northern Ireland goalscoring record, and Guiseppe Rossi becoming a regular in the Italian squad.
With Macheda currently dipping in and out of the first team squad, he seems to have come the closest to breaking this duck. To win games you need to score goals, and the pressure of this means that young players in this position aren’t afforded as good of a run in the team as the Da Silva twins would be in their defensive roles.
Kiko’s immediate impact lifted some of the pressure on him, but criticism of his recent performances by some parts of our support is unfair on a young man of 19 trying his best to make the grade. Players like Keane and Cofie are showing signs of excellence, but you have to wonder what the chances are of them making a long term impression at Old Trafford?
With seven subs now allowed in the Premier League, it can’t hurt to give these players a place on the bench to give them a taste of what they are aiming for.