Erik ten Hag, the Manchester United manager, has recently commented on how important bringing through young players is to the culture of the club. There is no doubt in the Dutchman’s mind who should be credited for this.
The manager praised Darren Fletcher’s role in helping to bring through the likes of Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo.
According to TNT Sports (via Eurosport), the Dutchman believes that using academy products like Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo makes up a huge part of the “DNA” of Manchester United and helps give the club an “identity”.
Both teenagers have impressed recently. The Argentinian forward has scored two goals in his last two games, while the young Englishman put in an incredibly mature performance versus Everton and also made an assured contribution off the bench in Istanbul.
When the United manager was asked about bringing players thorough from the academy he claimed, “I think it’s in the DNA of Manchester United; the Busby Babes, the Class of ’92”.
The Peoples Person recently reported on the fact that the club seem to be returning to this mantra as the squad last Sunday contained three of 2022 Youth Cup winning side.
The former Twente player mentioned that “developing players into the first team should be one key area of Manchester United because this club is very successful with it”.
The former Ajax coach should know what he is talking about, as the Dutch giants, like United, are another club that prides itself on bringing through young players of the highest quality.
Ten Hag went on to say another advantage of bringing through young players is that they will have a strong connection with the team and also with the fans. For example, other academy players on display at Everton last weekend were Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay. Despite a poor start to the season this time around, Rashford was voted the club’s player of the season last season.
Furthermore, McTominay was recently voted the club’s player of the month for October after an extended run in the side that saw him score some goals, crucially a late double to defeat Brentford at Old Trafford.
Ten Hag was critical of the youth setup when he arrived and described it as “isolated” from the first team. The Dutch coach lauded the work of technical director, Darren Fletcher, who has been seen as an important reason why the relationship between the youth and first team has improved of late.
The Man United manager stated, “we improved the connection. Darren Fletcher plays an important role with that, his connection with the Under-21s and academy. That connection is much better than before”.
Finally, the coach claimed that everyone is now beginning to see the fruit of his and the club’s labour as young players are often involved in first-team training, after getting their foundation in the academy and working “day by day with good strategies” put in place to ease development of the players.
Yesterday, The Peoples Person reported that Fletcher’s own son, Jack, at only 16, has massively impressed the manager and was given the opportunity to train with the senior team before their recent Champions League game against Galatasaray.
Giving young players a chance and watching them grow into a first team is something most United fans take great pride in. With an uncertain takeover future and a massive uphill task to be competitive this season, maybe giving youth a chance is a path to a happier future for fans of the club.