After the euphoria of United`s summer transfer window came the trickle of condemnation of the selling of Danny Welbeck to Arsenal for £16m. It started with Mike Phelan, part of the old regime under Fergie, saying United were destroying the youth setup and under Louis Van Gaal, United were going down a path some would suggest Chelsea have gone, in not promoting youth. I instantly dismissed this idea as “sour grapes” from Phelan. It happens, players or staff from an old regime become jealous of the new one (if it is looking successful) and chip in with their views.
As the week carried on, most journalists picked up on it and ran their similar slant on this idea that United were throwing away a production line of talent, forever. Welbeck was the most high profile youth product to be sold. Tom Lawrence, a player who made an appearance in the first team under Giggs at the back end of last season, went and joined Leicester City on a permanent deal. Michael Keane has been loaned out at Burnley as well.
I had simmered down somewhat by weekend only to have this rammed down my throat again on Jeff Stelling`s soccer saturday show. So called experts like Iain Dowie, Paul Dickov and Shaun Derry were going on with themselves about this matter. They made some good points about the loan system especially from a lower league clubs point of view, but they hardly can speak about United`s youth system, having been nowhere near it.
Have I missed something here? Have United decided to close down the under 21`s? – or sack their entire youth development staff? No, thought not.
For me, Welbeck is a great guy, local lad, will try his best, do whatever he is asked of him and as much as I love seeing a marquee signing come to the club, I also love seeing the youth players break into the first team and stay there. However, I am not under any illusion that many are not good enough for premier league football at the very highest level, this is a fact of life that will never change. Welbeck for me is not good enough, will not get you twenty goals a season and is injury prone. Look at the players Man City or Chelsea can bring off their bench to change a game. Last season when RVP and Rooney were out injured, Hernandez and Welbeck struggled to prove to anyone they were good enough.
Having watched the under 21`s final last season at Old Trafford between United and Chelsea, it was great watching so many talented young players, on both teams. However, I could not help the feeling that how many of those players will break into a top premier league team? Only one or two probably. I feel for the Chelsea players, they won and deservedly so on the night completing a “double” but will any of them be ever first teamers under Mourinho?
This happens at every club. Young talent breaks through and will either sink or swim or go off the rails like Gazza, Ronnie Wallwork or Ravel Morrison.
What makes this whole issue far more ridiculous from Phelan and the british press is Van Gaal has bloodied plenty of youth since he arrived. He has played Tyler Blackett in the premier league games so far, Jessie lingard also started in the first game of the season and three other youth players in Amos, Keane and James were all on the bench. These journalists who are slating united for apparently “losing their identity” are the same ones who built up Van Gaal in the summer, praising him for blooding young players at every club he has managed, especially giving Xavi, Iniesta and Seedorf their chances.
Therein lies the problem. The press build you up to knock you down.
So remember, the next time United buy a top foreign player, because it will happen again, remind people of the facts, it is over 3,600 consecutive games that a player from the youth academy has played in United`s starting squad. No one comes near us.