Ever since the club’s origins in our Newton Heath days, Manchester United Football Club has been renowned all over the globe for bringing through local talent from it’s prestigious academy.
The first notable group of players to come through was of course the Busby Babes. The Babes went on to triumph on numerous occasions under the great leadership of Sir Matt Busby but some of the Babes were sadly taken away from us in the tragic Munich air disaster.
Duncan Edwards was one the players that died in the plane crash. Edwards was tipped to be one of the greatest footballers to have ever lived, a view Sir Matt Busby echoed.
“I saw Duncan when he was 15 and I literally couldn’t teach him one thing, he had it all,” he said.
Then in 1992, another group of youngsters came on to the scene. The class of ’92. This included the likes of David Beckham, the Neville brothers, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Robbie Savage, Ben Thornley and Nicky Butt, all of whom went on to have rather successful careers.
But that was in the late 20th century. We’re in the modern era now and in the past ten years, football has started to become just as much of a business as it is sport. With television rights, club memorabilia and most notably transfers making stupendous amounts of money in countries all over the world, football as a brand has never been bigger.
This has enabled United’s scouting network to go much more further abroad to find the next crop of superstars. Some may say its good as its making sure the club gets the best talent from numerous countries but what does this mean for English footballers who dream of playing for United?
The most recent and most notable success stories to come out of United’s academy is of course Northern Irish centre back Jonny Evans and Longsight lad Danny Welbeck. But where is the next local superstar going to come from?
Michael and William Keane are twin brothers who were born just down the road from Old Trafford in Stockport. Michael is a tall, domineering centre half whilst Will is a goal poaching centre forward who unfortunately suffered a season ending injury in the pre-season of 2012 which saw him miss the whole of 2012-2013. Both are tipped to make a big impact on the first team in the coming years, whether they actually will only time will tell.
Then we have the likes of Jesse Lingard and Nick Powell. Lingard was born in Warrington and has made his way through the ranks at Carrington. After a disastrous loan spell at then Championship high flyers Leicester City last season, Lingard has showed some impeccable potential whilst on United’s pre-season tour.
If he wants to make it into the first team set-up, he will need to continue his hard work but he will have to bring a little bit more physicality into his game if he wants to challenge the likes of Tom Cleverley and Michael Carrick in United’s first team.
Nick Powell was one of the most hotly talked about youngsters in 2011/2012 as he guided Crewe Alexandra into League One at the age of just 18. United were quick to snap him up and last season, Powell played a big part in the clubs U21 side becoming league champions. However, injuries have once again halted Powell’s progress but it is expected that he will be back to full fitness before the end of September.
Powell possesses the same natural talents that the great Paul Scholes possessed. Vision, awareness and a powerful shot are just three aspects of Powell’s game which has resulted in many people tipping him as a future United captain.
In modern day football, these players may not ever get a chance to prove themselves in United’s senior side but isn’t it about time we stopped spending mass amounts of money on foreign players and started to do it the old fashioned way by paying much more attention to our own?