Beyond the fact that they won’t be contributing to the on field effort, the fact that neither Edwin Van Der Sar and Gary Neville possibly won’t be providing the kind of influence that they do in the locker room is just as damaging.
Manchester United functions as a club by a certain code that other clubs don’t have. There is a ‘United Way’ of doing things and this passed down from the top to the bottom from the manager down into the academy. It is no coincidence that you’ll find the first team snatch a late winner on a Saturday afternoon but only hours earlier an academy side has done the same thing. These are things that all players are taught in their time at the club.
I wrote previously about the huge effect of losing Giggs, Scholes and Neville at the same would have had and whilst that isn’t a possibility now with Neville having retired and we can be sure that we still have Giggs for at least another year the retirement of Ed and Gary puts things into perspective, we will eventually have to face the fact that these stalwarts won’t be there to impart the club’s values on those that join the club in the future.
Whenever a foreign player or a new player speaks of the club invariably the names of Giggs, Scholes or Neville are brought up and rightfully so. They are institutions at the club, the remnants of something great, a dynasty. They are each a living example of Manchester United as a club when it functions at it’s best, it produces professionals as well as winners. Slowly they will move behind the scenes but their impact now is still huge.What they have to offer in terms of their experience as well a knowledge of the club is invaluable as we attempt to carry on the traditions of the club so it is important that our players learn from them as much as possible now as they look to be on their way out.
Of course the players who these values and traditions are being imparted on plays a huge part in this and it always works best starting them off young, of course that’s how it worked for Giggs, Scholes and Neville as they were raised by the club and we have some good young players coming through who have been here long enough to know how we operate. There are high hopes for Rafael for example as he is already a supremely talented right back but also was lucky enough to have worked along side Gary Neville who would have undoubtedly have taught him about the game but also the type of mentality he needs. Nani singles out Giggs and sings his praises when people speak of his turn around and Darren Fletcher who will be the next in line to carry on the work of our senior most players often sings the praises of Roy Keane for the work he did here and the mentality he helped install.
It just goes to show that United as a club is a continual learning process not just on field but off field, it is as much about footballing development as it is about personal development.
As I said our senior players will eventually move behind the scenes and may not be in the dressing room to show the youngsters and in coming players the way.
The players we have now need to soak up as much as they can now in order to ensure that cycle continues.