For many years now, Manchester United’s Carrington training complex has nurtured budding young Reds who go on to become the foundation of United’s senior team. Names such as Giggs, Scholes, Beckham, Butt, and the Nevilles were all part of ‘Fergie’s Fledglings’ that delivered many a trophy to Old Trafford.
United has always taken pride in its homegrown talent, and certainly Sir Alex Ferguson has become the master of integrating young players into his squad and giving them a chance on the biggest stage of all. Perhaps this is why United has been so successful in the Premier League era and has managed to surpass Liverpool’s eighteen league titles. The only manager of the current top six clubs in England that comes close to Fergie in this regard is Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, but even he is not in the same league as Sir Alex. This is why a lot of young teenagers turn down other big clubs when United comes calling. Think Phil Jones, who rejected Liverpool in the hope and expectation that United would soon make a bid, and we did. Just recently Frederic Veseli swapped the oil riches of City for the guidance and expertise of United’s coaching staff.
Other clubs are aiding their own downfall by not developing and nurturing their own talent. Chelsea have Josh McEachran who realistically, must be able to cope with the Premier League at least as well, if not better than the likes of John Obi Mikel, Oriul Romeu, or Florent Malouda. In the summer they spent £18 million on Romelu Lukaku who must be starting to mold his own groove into the plush Stamford Bridge reserve seats. A year ago they spent £50 million on Fernando Torres, which has been nothing short of a disaster. Perhaps the most satisfying thing from a United perspective about watching Torres’ value drop by the game, is the fact that one of our academy graduates and a through and through Mancunian, is scoring for fun, and keeping last season’s signing of the season and League top goalscorer on the bench.
There’s always a special feeling at the ground when a player who has come through the youth ranks makes his debut or scores a goal. It’s a feeling that a United supporter feels often because there always seems to be such players on the field and doing well. I thought it would be interesting to have a look at what United’s team might look like in 2020, assuming that no players are bought or sold in that time.
GK: David de Gea
RB: Marnick Vermijl
CB: Chris Smalling
CB: Phil Jones
LB: Zeki Fryers
CM: Paul Pogba
CM: Tom Cleverley
ST: Javier Hernandez
ST: Danny Welbeck/Wayne Rooney
Subs/Squad Players: Ben Amos, Frederic Veseli, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Jonny Evans, Wayne Rooney, Anderson, Ashley Young, Nani, Will Keane, Michael Keane, Larnell Cole, Kiko Macheda, Robbie Brady, Joshua King, Adnan Januzaj
To emphasize my point, this starting XI (excluding Rooney) has already amassed 295 Premier League caps between them, which is a testament to Sir Alex Ferguson’s remarkable ability to get the best out of young players when everyone else is questioning his decisions. The team listed above could more than hold its own in the Premier League right now, which gives positive signals for the future.
Perhaps a key piece of business for Sir Alex Ferguson in the coming weeks is to persuade young midfield enforcer Paul Pogba to put pen to paper on a new long term deal. Ferguson has said the kid wants to stay and lets hope he does. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it, this young man is going to be a special, special player. We all got a glimpse of it in his 20 minute cameo against Stoke and I think many can’t wait to see him in action again.
God knows he’s at the right club if he’s waiting for his chance. What an exciting time it is to be a United fan!
Follow me on Twitter @karmalooplevi