The Kids Are Alright
I wanted to write this little piece to try and explain in my own words not only why I believe we miss out on expensive signings, but also why it shouldn’t bother United fans and that I personally think it is a blessing.
If you take a look back through the footballing history books, who are the teams who truly stick out as being incredible however not only for their success, but also because of their lack of spending OR ability to spend? A few from my memory would be.
1966/67 Celtic team that won EVERY competition they entered with a team of homegrown players, who lived in a 30 mile radius of the city the team was based in Glasgow.
The 1980 era Liverpool Team where although 3 of the starting lineup for the 81 final vs Real Madrid were Scottish, the rest (of the match day squad) were English and therefore produced by youth academies in their own countries.
Even looking as far forward in time as 1995 and (as I will get to later the 2000′s with Barca and Man Utd), the Ajax team of the early to mid 90′s and in particular the 1995 CL Final, had 13 of the 16 man squad who were not only raised in Holland, but the majority of them came through the Ajax youth system.
Finally moving the farthest forward to modern day football there is the Barcelona team or in particular the team(s) of :
2009/10 CL Final, Barcelona had 10 players in their match day squad who were direct products of the Barcelona (although Iniesta had a brief spell at Albacete before that) youth academy, the above was almost exactly the same as the 2011 CL final also versus Manchester United, although this time it was 9 or 10 players that came from their academy.
Saving our beloved club for last there was of course the Manchester United team of the 1999 season, in which we won the treble. Not only was this a fantastic achievement in its own right, but to have managed this with a largely homegrown squad (yes I know the CL final team “only” had 6 players from our academy in it, but the full squad that season had significantly more).
So back to the topic at hand.
Why do I believe we cannot compete financially? Well it’s pretty well documented the amount of money that’s being ripped out of our club by the so called “great” owners, so I’ll concentrate on why I don’t see this as such a detrimental problem to the team, as it is to the club (don’t get the idea that I like the owners or that I in ANY way support them, as there is nothing I would like more than for them to leave).
When you hear about us missing out on deals where an agent is getting played a reported fee in the region of 5 – 8 million pounds (as in the case of Lucas and Hazard among others), when that money COULD be spent on improving things like youth facilities, training facilities, extra/better backroom staff or stadium expansion, then I can 100% see why Ferguson baulks at it. Especially given that this is a man who has a history of not only blooding young talent, but also producing stars, such as the likes of Giggs and Beckham all the way up to the likes of Ronaldo (I include Ronaldo, as he was largely unproven when he arrived therefore I credit our club with making him the player he is today) and then nowadays the Welbeck’s and Cleverly’s of this club (although largely unproven, both for me have started to show enough promise to be given a chance).
The reason I think Manchester United fans should not worry about our on-pitch future so much, is that if you look at the prospects we have coming through the academy at the moment, we are really not in a bad place at all. Using a few players as an example in my opinion of those that will make it , I have VERY high hopes for at least the following:
(Mats Daehli), (Adnan Januzaj) , Davide Petrucci, Larnell Cole, Jesse Lingaard etc and although he recently suffered an horrific injury, William Keane, who I for one believe is the real deal.
Players in brackets are there due to their relatively young age compared to other ones who may be closer to 1st team.
Taking into account that Ferguson rarely brings youth players into the first team on a REGULAR basis before being 20 years old ish (unless the possess significant talent for their age) case in point Paul Scholes, Tom Cleverley etc. If I remember correctly, there have only been a few RARE cases where Fergie has drafted in a teenager to the 1st team regularly, Giggs springs to mind along with Wayne Rooney although obviously he was produced by Everton. Also G. Neville, Beckham and Lee Sharpe.
So I apologize for waffling on, but as I feel so strongly about this I feel it had to be said. Do I think our lack of being able to compete financially should have us worried about our future on the pitch?
No, not at all.
Do I think we should be worried with the running of the club off the pitch? Not necessarily, as long as the club does not stop doing what we have ALWAYS done within our academy, which is producing QUALITY homegrown players.
What I do worry about is, how would you even begin to replace a man that has achieved as much as Sir Alex Ferguson has at the level he has, as consistently as he as, for 25 years.
In my opinion, I don’t think you can ever replace him, but for now I intend to back the man to the hilt.
Published with permission from RU.