The January transfer window was full of surprises, not least the signing of Juan Mata, but something which occurred on deadline day was just as surprising – the sale of Ryan Tunnicliffe from Manchester United’s Under-21s on a permanent deal.
United are renowned for giving their younger squad players a chance but in this case, they have made a massive mistake in letting Tunnicliffe go.
Tunnicliffe had loan spells at Championship sides Barnsley and more recently Ipswich Town where he was highly rated by both clubs. It looked likely that the Heywood born midfielder would return to United and potentially get a chance in the first team, especially with all the midfield problems that are currently occurring at United.
But soon after returning from Ipswich, Tunnicliffe was sold to Fulham and his ex-first team coach, Rene Meulensteen. This came as a massive shock to me personally. I tipped Tunnicliffe to do big things at the club and even got his name printed on the back of last season’s away shirt.
His style of play was exactly what we needed – box-to-box, not afraid to put a tackle in and very intelligent with or without the ball. His aggression was another key factor in believing that he would one day be a first team regular. That aggression is something that has gone amiss in our midfield since the retirement of Roy Keane but United’s reluctance to give him a first team opportunity may just be a decision that they regret.
With the club’s youth policy seemingly persisting to fail in bringing through first team players on a persistent basis since the Class of 92, there is a lot to be considered and a lot to be changed to ensure that United has a bright future on and off the pitch.