As United beat Chelsea yesterday one couldn’t help but notice the distinctively English feel of two of our goals. A header from Chris Smalling was planted into Chelsea’s net via a freekick from Ashley Young whilst Wayne Rooney continued his good goal scoring form with a tap in after Phil Jones went on another marauding run.
With that said:
Just looking at the number of young English players around Carrington and in our first team squad these days, it is clear to see that Fergie is not half wrong in making the comment ‘we make up most of the national team’ when asking for more respect from the FA with regards to international fixtures and friendly’s.
This past summer we bought in a great deal of young players to add to the experience we already had in the squad. It is remarkable that Wayne Rooney is considered to be an old hand now, at the grand age of 25 and it seems as though the boy has been playing for club and country for decades!
With the arrival of Phil Jones and Ashley Young, not to mention the return and emergence of Welbeck, Cleverley and Smalling, United have a sizable crop of English players who are improving with every game and look more and more like becoming world class players. The strategy employed by Fergie with regards to the young players was to send them out on loan to gain first team experience, and then when they were deemed good enough and ready to return they were bought back into the fold and crucially given the chance to perform.
The fact that Fergie is willing to give the young players a chance and also instil in them a confidence that other managers are not able to speaks volumes about the man we consider to be our greatest asset. It is so easy in the modern game for players to fall through the cracks when they are younger and not get the chance to prove themselves at their parent club – look at Barcelona who sold Fabregas and Pique as youngsters because they couldn’t find room to give them games, and then ended up having to buy them back for a considerably larger amount after they were given chances at Arsenal and United respectively.
It would have been easy for Fergie to send Welbeck and Cleverley out on loan yet again, or even sell them, and bring in a big name such as Sneidjer to fill the void left by Scholes, yet he chose to give chances to the young players, and has been repaid in spades. During our recent injury crisis at the back, it was barely noticeable due to the job players like Phil Jones and Smalling have done.
Going into a game against Chelsea without Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic? No problem!
Both Jones and Smalling as well as Cleverley earned themselves call ups to the full England squad having starred at u21 level and had Welbeck have stayed injury free, he too would have certainly been in the England team, yet there is plenty of time for him yet.
It will be comforting to most England fans that the future of the majority of the national team is at United, with no other club or manager quite as good at developing young players and helping them to mature and improve their game.
One can only wonder what may have been should Fergie been England manager – despite Gary Neville saying that ‘even Fergie wouldn’t have won things with England’ one suspects this comment was more out of frustration at England than a slight on Fergie’s managerial abilities.
When looking at the young players at United, and even older ones like Young and Rooney, one wonders if they could be part of a new ‘the golden generation’?