Manchester United’s Under-23 side were relegated from Premier League 2 on Monday night but academy boss Nicky Butt insists that the club’s youth system is “thriving massively”.
United are proud of their record that at least one homegrown player has been in every first-team squad since 1937; five were in the 16-man squad for Sunday’s clash with West Brom.
Marcus Rashford has been the most high-profile Academy graduate of recent years but Scott McTominay has established himself this season.
Butt believes that the fortunes of the Under-23 side are irrelevant.
“If you are not around the first team at 20 or 21 you’re not going to be, it’s a fact,” Butt told the BBC.
“We are expected to develop players for Manchester United and bring them into the first team. In that respect, I think the academy is thriving massively.”
Manchester United clinched the Under-18 Premier League northern title with a 2-1 victory over neighbours City this weekend and Butt believes that is the measure of the Academy rather than the eclectic Under-23 system, which replaced the old reserve league.
“It was open-age football in a stadium with 5,000 people watching,” says Butt.
“Flick that over to now: sometimes we go and play at a training pitch on a Tuesday afternoon with no fans and no first-team players.”
The real measure might be that United had only one player – goalkeeper Dean Henderson – in the latest England Under-18, Under-19, Under-20 and Under-21 squads.