Mails: Is United’s youth system any good?

Date published: Tuesday 24th May 2016 2:37

Keep sending those mails to You know you want to.


The United way
And so it seems Manchester United’s unofficial chief executive, Jorge Mendes has finished instructing Ed Woodward on what to pay Jose to rescue our club from its most recent sorry slump. The overall feeling across the fanbase looks to be one of deep division but I for one sit firmly on the ‘it’s probably the best appointment we could make given the circumstances’ side of the fence.

Now you can see where the bias in my opinion comes from however having seen the arguments against Mourinho’s appointment, I have noticed that some are more than a little unfair. The major black mark against Mourinho seems to boil down to his personality ‘not being the right fit’.

Now I don’t know him and likely neither do you, but from what I have seen he seems to act like a real sh*t in certain situations. This being the case, the internet has naturally reacted in a reasonable and proportionate manner. Only joking of course, reading some comments you’d think Mourinho was a dangerous psychopath intent on eating orphans and burning down the Trafford Centre with shoppers still inside. You may think I am exaggerating but I read a comment from Guy Shrimpton yesterday in which he accused ‘the plastics’, by which I guess he means the me or anyone else who supports the appointment, being willing to ‘sacrifice babies’ if it meant winning a trophy. Great stuff.

It’s not ‘the United Way’ you hear them cry. Because of course, Fergie was sugar, spice and everything nice. Giggsy-wiggsy, Scholesy-wolesy, jumpers for goalposts. Isn’t it? Mmm. Those plastics, they don’t know.

Let’s get some perspective here – Wayne Rooney has twice held the club to ransom for a contract he does not deserve, your ticket money funds the Glazer Family Trust, we have tyre partners and our chief executive is a Glazer-appointed bank manager who organised the leveraged-debt deal to buy out the club in the first place.

If you are harking after the ‘United Way’, I’d suggest your fight lies elsewhere.
Smyth, MUFC


Is United’s youth development really all that?
Firstly, let’s not include players when mentioning products of the United academy, such as Paul Pogba (a Le Havre youth academy player whom you poached, neglected to pay, released on a free and has ended up being one of the most complete footballers in recent history). Let’s also not include the Da Silva twins (both poached from Fluminense), Gerard Pique (from Barcelona), Ron-Robert Zieler (Koln), Kieran Richardson (West Ham) or Adnan Januzaj (Anderlect).

Also, don’t include players who you sold for f**k all, who are better than players in your team right now (Danny Simpson, Danny Drinkwater, Ryan Shawcross). That’s not a good sign of a youth academy system, as you’ve obviously failed to see a players full potential and let them leave prematurely.

Finally, don’t include players who were never good to play for your team and you were unable to sell. Tom Cleverley (technically a Bradford youth player), Phil Bardsley, Craig Cathcart, Richie Wellens to name a few.

Next time, mention:

* Players who were part of your youth academy for a significant amount of time (not snapped up from another academy when United used their stature into bullying the selling club into parting with their player).

* Players who were good enough for the first team and/or sold for a significant of money (to cover overheads to justify the academy).

* Players whose career you didn’t ruin/stagnate by neglecting to have the patience to stick with them.

Not sure if I can think of many beyond Welbeck, potentially Michael Keane, Wes Brown, Darren Fletcher and Jonny Evans as minor successes, not on the same scale as some of the previously mentioned youth players for some of the big world teams (Barca, Bayern, etc) that a side of United’s stature should be comparing themselves too.
Kiran (WHUFC)


Now, to be fair, most of the players on the lists provided were pretty impressive, which means that the various people writing in to pipe up about the Manchester United youth production line really didn’t have to extend so far as to claiming players they brought as older teenagers as actual youth products.

Paul Pogba is not a Manchester Utd youth product, he was signed as a young prospect, that’s a very different thing, same with Rossi, same with the Da Silva twins, same with Januzaj, and especially true of Varela, who moved there at 20 years old. It’s hardly specific to Manchester United of course, Arsenal fans have done the same for years, and I’ve heard some Chelsea fans talking about Kenedy and Traore as if they were anything to do with the youth system there.

One final point, Jose can certainly ignore the young players at United, and I have no real doubt that he will. What do you think will happen when Rashford goes three games without scoring?

Martial might the the exception, but for the others I wouldn’t hold out hope.
Jim (Your ad here) R.


Brendan and Vik listed a number of players defending the success of the United academy since ’92. The class of ’92 provided players that were the spine of the United team for two decades. Of the 25 players listed by Brendan they have only retained 7, so therefore you can assume the rest were deemed not good enough (Man United’s thinking not mine).

Of the remaining 7, Rashford has played for 3 months and the others are still being blooded into the team (or were at least, good luck under Jose). Now they may all turn out to be brilliant but they could just as easily be the next Macheda.

My point being none can exactly be proclaimed the next Giggs, G Neville, Scholes yet can they? When was the last time the United academy brought a player through to the first team and he stayed there for an extended period?
Seán Dublin


Does anyone else think that the lists of Man Utd academy graduates provided by Dave, Brendan and Nik in this morning’s mailbox, far from rebutting Nelson from Manchester’s point, actually ended up proving it?

What a load of mediocrity. The only decent player amongst the list of has-beens and never weres is Pogba, and he was jettisoned because Ferguson was incapable of managing him properly.
Ollie McG, Ireland


More objectives for Mourinho (the first ten are here)
Some more season objectives for Jose Mourinho:

*Be the biggest character:

Perhaps his toughest task of all is becoming the managerial media darling: Pep Guardiola and Antonio Conte are primed to be handled as foreign curios, but they’ve never won away at Stoke, so clearly are rubbish; Jurgen Klopp is already established as a bit zany; Sam Allardyce and Alan Pardew will talk up their achievements, no matter how minor, at every opportunity. There is a genuine danger of Jose being starved of the oxygen of publicity. If Manchester United are to have any success, it will be down to Mourinho making everything all about him. After all, the “anyone who doesn’t like us is just jealous” attitude played a huge part in Manchester United winning everything from 1993 onwards.

*Find comfort in the familiar:

How long will Mourinho be in post before the Wesley Sneijder to Manchester United rumours resurface? A couple of days, tops.

*Find more sacred cows to attack:

No real point to this, other than I imagined Mourinho trying to fight Gunnersaurus and it made me laugh.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven (it’s not a character, just a sequence of phonetic sounds that looks good on a t-shirt)


The next few weeks and months will be a test of Mourinho the politician. As Red Issue have rightly pointed out “Mourinho facing nest of vipers looking to undermine him in boardroom (Fergie), backroom staff (Giggs) & dressing room (Rooney).” How he manoeuvres his way through this and the ramifications it has will be interesting. Already Giggs is being patronised with a demotion which he’ll probably be too proud to accept.

I reckon Mourinho will sell Rooney the first chance he gets (which doesn’t necessarily mean in the next few weeks). There’s talk that he’s always wanted to sign him, well maybe a few years ago when he was effective (and inconsistent) striker, he’s not that anymore. In 2013 ithe speculation was also a way of destabilising Moyes which led to him giving Rooney a new contract. Ibrahimovic is seemingly on the way so I can see Rooney shipped off to China or the USA in the next 12 months, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Rooney has two things going for him, he qualifies as Home Grown/English quota etc. and he brings in commercial sales. If Mourinho (with the help of Mendes) can cover these two areas with new signings Rooney will be out.
Eddie, ‘Corporate Whore’ MUFC


Jose and youth
With Manchester United nearing closer to appointing Jose (In my opinion, they don’t have many other options. Too big a club to take a gamble on an unproven manager and nobody else available. Will probably work out well for them) there has a lot of fear by supporters about how Mourinho will execute their youth players in front of the senior team to prove who is boss. Or something similar. Either way, there is an idea that Mourinho refuses to play youth players.

There was a statistic that came out showing how LVG has given as many youth players their debuts in under two seasons as JM has over two spells at Chelsea ( However once you read the names of the players who have come through at Chelsea, maybe the reason why JM hasn’t played youth is that they aren’t actually good enough? Zouma was a regular player under Mourinho despite being 20 years old – granted he is not a youth product but he is of age and obviously good enough for Mourniho.

Loftus-Cheek was given his debut but was criticised for his lack of effort and rarely featured. He has played under Hiddink but is not setting the world on fire. Patrick Bamford was a regular scorer on loan in the Championship last season, loaned to Crystal Palace and Norwich this season without making much of an impact.
In comparison, Dele Alli and Harry Kane are the same ages as Loftus-Cheek and Bamford respectively. Do you think that if Mourinho had players like that available to him, he would play them? Is perhaps the reason why he brings in players is because he can’t rely on the younger ones coming through the academy? It might just be that Mourinho would love to build his team around players like Rashford and Martial.

You could use Kevin De Brunye as an example of a young player that was binned by Mourniho but has turned out to be really quite good and I agree. However, Mourinho has a system of how he wants his teams to play and obviously only wants players that can play in or will adapt to that system. He felt KDB didn’t fit and was sold for considerable profit. He also did the same with Mata. Mourinho is not the only manager who has a certain set up/style/vision for his teams and bins those who won’t fit.
Ferguson made a pretty good career by getting players to play in a certain way or buying those who will, Klopp certainly seems to seek players that play in a certain way and Pochettino is the same – selling players that don’t buy in to his system (Capoue was sold despite proving to be quite good at Watford this season and would probably be better than Ryan Mason. But he didn’t or wouldn’t fit the system.)

I have no idea what happened with Lukaku though, seems to be the perfect Mourinho player.

What I am saying, is that maybe Mourinho will utilise the promising set of youngsters coming through, whilst making use of the experienced players and buying a few more because he has the means necessary to be able to do it at Manchester United whereas he didn’t at Chelsea (lack of quality in youth, higher demands placed on immediate success, carte blanche with money).
Or maybe he doesn’t do this, packs Rashford off to Hull on loan and sells Martial to Barcelona for £800m. But it would seem for there to more cause for optimism though.
Ethan, Portsmouth (Not meant to be attack on Chelseas Academy, just a different perspective to consider).


The scorpion and the frog
I was reading Paul Murphy’s mail this morning about Mourinho’s desire to change. It reminded me of the old tale about the scorpion and the frog. If you haven’t heard it, it goes a little something like this:

Once upon a time there lived a frog who owned a very successful football club. The club had a proud history but recently had fallen on harder times. Frog needed a new manager for his club but as he looked out over the pond all the best managers had gone elsewhere. The only option left was Scorpion.

Scorpion came to frog and said “Please let me manage your team.” However, Frog was wary of Scorpion because of his character. Although he had been successful in the past, he was known to be arrogant, disruptive, alienate his players and not give the young players a chance.

Frog replied “No, Scorpion. How can I trust you when I’ve seen all you have done in the past?”

Scorpion argued, “But Frog, why would I be disruptive this time? This is the job I’ve always wanted. I want to be loved. This could be my last chance! Why would I cause trouble when that would be bad for me too?”

Frog was convinced by this, so he gave Scorpion the job.

Everything started off well. Scorpion’s team had a great mentality and became relentless winners. He was arrogant but the fans loved him because he brought success to Frog’s club. Some of the players were left out, they became unhappy and were sold, but the ones that stayed loved Scorpion and even managed to win the league!

After three years, things began to chance. Scorpion became irrational. The team started losing. He blamed others for everything and never took responsibility. He stung another manager in the eye. The FA frequently fined and banned him for the way he acted out after matches. No new young players were being played. His actions were damaging the reputation of Frog’s club and worse than that, the players had turned against Scorpion and the club began to plummet down the league.

Frog called Scorpion into his office and said: “I don’t understand! You promised me none of this would happen! Now both our reputations have been damaged and we’re both worse off! Why did you act this way?”

“I couldn’t help it.” replied Scorpion. “That’s just my nature.”
Mike, LFC, Dubai


Donald Trump to Old Trafford
The similarities between appointment of United’s next manager and the next US President are uncanny:

1. Both are trying to re-ignite a ‘huuuge’ brand after it was destroyed by disastrous leadership (Bush/Moyes) and not revived by a promising but ultimately failed charismatic leader (Obama/LvG).

2. Both Mourinho and Trump are divisive characters who are not kind to people who speak Spanish (Mexicans/Mata).

3. The alternative to both is a long term insider who is equally ineffective as the predecessors (Hillary/Giggs).

So, let’s ‘Make United Great Again’.
Gaurav (Where is our Sanders?) B, India


Wishful signings
If only Liverpool would go in for Granit Xhaka, they could have a midfield of Xhaka – Can…………….

Lee, (Need some Sun style phonetic mangling to make it work mind) Highbury


Thank you, Jimbo
Great to hear my favourite pundit of all time, James Richardson, allude to being a F365 reader on my commute this morning – clear reference to the ‘five Man Utd players who will relish Mourinho’ article in last night’s podcast!

If you’re reading Jimbo, thanks for making football bearable this past 25 years!
Rich, London


I wanted to write a response to Fox Freeman in this morning’s mailbox, but instead of actually reading the email I ended up counting the commas. So. Many. Commas. 40, if you’re wondering, in a 380 word email. I’m hoping he (or she) will respond to this saying English isn’t their first language, otherwise wow. Just wow.
Rob (I, really, hope, we, beat, Sheff, Wednesday, this, Saturday,) Leeds

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