Nicky Butt took an Under-19 squad over to Stuttgart this week to take part in the Mercedes Benz Junior Cup where we finished third.
It was an opportunity for our youngsters to play some fast paced football in a six-a-side tournament against some great teams from around Europe and Nicky butt was happy to be a part of it.
“I think it’s a real philosophy for the club is to bring young players through and develop the young players and teach them the way we want to play football,” he said.
There has always been a philosophy at Manchester United – to play exciting, attacking football which goes back to the days of Sir Matt Busby. Young players have always been given the freedom to express themselves on the pitch and to enjoy their football.
However, the tactics employed in the second half of the match against Grasshopper Club Zurich ran totally contrary to that philosophy.
Apart from a couple of chances in the opening minute and the final minute, United refused to play football and stayed in their own half. The Under-19s were trailing 1-0 at that stage yet nobody made any attempt to regain possession. United did not go past the half way line and Zurich just passed it amongst themselves.
After the match ended, it transpired that a 1-0 loss would still be enough for United to qualify for the semi-finals and it would appear that the decision not to play was a ‘tactical’ one on the part of Butt.
United for some unknown reason have stopped playing and are just letting Zurich pass the ball about in their own half.
— Gary C (@GaryC_W3106) January 6, 2014
Anyone who has watched the likes of James Wilson, Ben Pearson, Sam Byrne, etc, at youth level will know that it’s against their nature not to put pressure on the ball. It was a very strange sight to see these players make no attempt to get the ball back.
There was mass confusion from those watching both at home and in the stadium and the lack of spirit from the United lads prompted boos throughout the stadium.
It was very disappointing to see such a tactic being used, particularly at youth level, as it went against the spirit of the game and saw the youngsters being booed by the other teams and spectators. It was totally uncharacteristic of a United team to deliberately not look for the ball or to try to win.
It sends out the wrong message to young footballers. It tells them they shouldn’t always be looking to win. As United proved later that afternoon, they had the ability to beat Zurich on their own terms but instead were told to do nothing, to be afraid to try.
It’s not the way any United team should ever play football and it shouldn’t be something we ever see them do.