Sir Alex Ferguson has praised Louis van Gaal for giving a debut to several young players during his short time in charge of Manchester United.
Injuries to key first team players, particularly defenders, have meant Van Gaal has had to turn to the youth team on several occasions this season.
Speaking to MUTV, Ferguson said it was good for the players, the club and the fans for so many young players to be given a chance in the first team.
“What has pleased me with Louis is he’s given seven young kids their debuts this year and that falls into line with the history of our club,” he said.
“I think the supporters particularly respond very, very well when a young player gets his opportunity. Young people have to be given an opportunity, particularly if they’ve got ability. If you wait too long, they just stagnate and you lose them.”
Tyler Blackett and Jesse Lingard both started the opening game of the season against Swansea City and Blackett would go on to play every game for the club this season up to his sending off against Leicester City.
Blackett’s suspension and continued injuries to Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling meant 19-year old Patrick McNair started both games against West Ham United and Everton with Tom Thorpe playing the last thirty seconds against the former.
Reece James, Saidy Janko and Andreas Pereira all had their debut in the League Cup defeat to MK Dons, where Pereira in particular impressed on a poor night whilst James made a real impact in place of Luke Shaw during the club’s pre-season tour of America.
United fans expected the youth to be given a chance under Van Gaal but few could have expected the widespread scale of their progression to the first-team so far this season.
Sure, injuries have opened up a lot of doors but what Van Gaal has shown is that he is not willing to put an older player out of position to accommodate an injury, he’d rather give a youngster the opportunity, something which has done the youngsters well so far.