Date: 24th June 2011 at 1:51am
Written by:
Ryan Tunnicliffe

Could youth step up this season?

This Summer, Manchester have been linked with a huge list of midfielders, including the likes of Tottenham’s Luka Modric and Inter Milan’s Wesley Sneijder.

However with already set to have spent over £50 million this season following the signings of Phil Jones and Ashley Young, plus the expected arrival of David De Gea another signing may not be possible.

With this being the case, could the youth of Manchester step up to the plate in their quest to clinch more silverware next season.

Following the retirement of Paul Scholes, it was widely expected would sign a centre midfielder to help fill the void that has been left due to the legend’s exit.

However if this was not to be the case, could those who have helped Manchester ’s youth team clinch the Youth Cup be the ones to step up and take the place that Scholes once commanded?

I think it could be very possible. Manchester proved this past season that they have one of the best youth academies in the world, after their dominant performances in the Youth Cup earned them the honour of being the first team to the win the Cup 10 times, following a 6-3 aggregate win over Sheffield United.

Several players impressed, most notably Ravel Morrison, who finished his season by scoring two goals in the home leg in front of the Old Trafford faithful. The impressive display by Morrison has not gone unnoticed, and has led to him recently earning his first cap for England’s U18 side. It is no surprise that his performances have led to him being touted as one of England’s best prospects, but he is not the only English talent that Manchester currently possesses. While Ravel Morrison provides the attacking midfield threat for the youth team, it is another Englishman that provides the defensive side, Ryan Tunnicliffe.

With the ability to play as either a defender or a midfielder, Tunnicliffe offers something they have craved over the past few seasons when injuries have left them short of defenders and forced to play the likes of Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick in order to complete a make shift back four. Tunnicliffe has had a phenomenal season for United, one that was capped off with him earning the status of being Manchester United Academy player of the year. It is obvious that the decision to award Tunnicliffe as the player of the year would have been a hard choice, simply due to the hard work and commitment displayed by the majority of United’s youth players this season, including talented Frenchman Paul Pogba.

After a slow start, Pogba reached his peak during the culmination of ’s cup campaign, which included a string of impressive outings in the latter rounds of the cup. Pogba has proven time and time again that he has a keen eye for goal, something that would be crucial if he was to make the switch to the senior squad, in fact any of the three mentioned players have shown that they have the skill and ability to be able to fit in perfectly to United’s current side. The only question mark would potentially be whether or not it would come too soon for these youngsters.

There is no denying that the lifestyle of a footballer is an extravagant one, and usually one that results in them making several mistakes off the field, as shown in the problems Ravel Morrison has experienced in the past during his time in court over allegations of witness intimidation.

If these players were to be featured regularly in the senior squad, it would result in them being a much more common figure in the public eye, and it is unknown as to whether or not they would be able to cope with the added pressure at such a tender age. Sir Alex has shown in the past that he likes to ease in his young players through a mixture of loan spells and league cup games, and it is likely that he would follow the same structure with this current crop of players.

However it has been proven by other top Premier League clubs that age should not come into consideration when debating the ability of a player, most notably visible during Jack Wilshere’s successful season at Arsenal, which culminated in him earning the PFA young player of the year. With the amount of experienced players that United currently possesses, this would help to allow this set of fresh faced youngsters to settle down at United with the guidance of those who have previously been in their position.

If United do indeed not sign a centre midfielder during this transfer window, then I that these players have the potential to initially be a great squad addition then to step in if the likes of Fletcher and Carrick among others are unable to play.

However as the season advances and they gain the experience they require, I fully expect to see these players knocking on the door of a first team start to help United in their hopes of clinching not only a twentieth Premier league title, but also their quest in obtaining both domestic and European cup glory.

This set of players have been widely tipped as being the most successful crop of United’s youngsters since the famous class of 92, and I personally expect to see them burst onto the world stage with the same brilliance that was once displayed by the likes of Giggs, Scholes, Beckham during their rise through the United ranks.

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Or check out more of his writing at Sportjunkies

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