Louis van Gaal is not afraid to drop a big-money signing in order to promote a player from the youth team if he deserved it.
The Dutchman has stayed true to his word so far that bringing through youngsters into the first-team squad would be a big focus for him this season.
Critics have pointed towards United’s big spending summer as evidence that trend will shift but Van Gaal has no intention of neglecting the youth simply because of a player’s value: “It would not be a problem for me to promote a player from the youth team, even over a big-money signing, if he deserved it,” Van Gaal said. “Money alone doesn’t say anything. Quality says everything.”
United’s youngsters have already been buoyed by Van Gaal’s approach and his comments draw striking parallels with one of Sir Matt Busby’s most famous quotes: “If they’re good enough, they’re old enough.”
Van Gaal: “The Class of ’92 were guardians of the culture of the club. It is very important that a club like Manchester United have guardians and therefore you need a very good youth education.”
Van Gaal also intimated how important he felt squad renewal was on an annual basis to keep the hunger within a team as another justification as to why the youth was so important for United: “You have seen it. In my previous clubs I have always given young players a chance.
“At Barcelona I gave debuts to Xavi, to Iniesta, to Puyol, to Valdés. At Bayern I can mention Badstuber, Müller and Alaba. I always want to promote youth but the young player has to take their chance.
“You don’t get endless opportunities, because when you are too long at a club without making a breakthrough there is a danger you can get used to being a substitute. I don’t like that.
“You always need hunger to play in the first team. Talented young players can provide a lot of stimulation to a group, but I think you have to refresh the squad every year to keep the hunger. I have done that at all my clubs.”