Manchester United’s U14s were on the wrong end of a 9-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester City this weekend.
There were some Man United players who were not not in the team due to participating in a tournament with the U15s, but it re-opens the discussion about concerns many have with the academy.
On the surface, United’s academy is in good nick. The sides which have coverage, the U18s and U21s, have both been doing well in recent years.
United’s U21s have won consecutive U21s Premier League titles while the likes of Adnan Januzaj, Andreas Pereira and Paddy McNair have all broken through into the first-team and the U18s also have some great talents such as Axel Tuanzebe and Callum Gribbin, so there have been some real positives.
However, the concerns lie with the younger ages. As discussed in detail by Andy Mitten in this extremely informative article on the academy, City’s newly constructed academy has changed the landscape in Manchester. Now, kids have a viable, arguably more alluring, alternative to Carrington.
Here’s a short extract from Andy’s article which discusses the problem at hand:
“City’s young players train together and are educated together at a very good private school. By contrast, a select few United players, usually those from outside Manchester, go to a non-fee paying school close to the training ground. United have discussed building a school and having young players live at Carrington, but so far it hasn’t happened.
“Imagine you’re a single mum in Moss Side (a working class neighbourhood close to City’s old Maine Road home),’ explains someone familiar with the recruitment process. ‘Both clubs come in for your son but City offer him a full private education in one of Manchester’s best schools, to be continued even if your son is released, as most are. If he stays at United, he stays in the same school he’s in. City also offer money, maybe as a one-off payment to a parent. United offer a travel allowance.
“Or, imagine you’re a 17-year-old from outside England and both Manchester clubs want you,’ he continues. ‘You go to see both clubs and see that United have the history, then you go to City and see that they have better facilities, education and they’ll also pay more.”
United’s heritage and tradition is something City’s money will never be able to buy they are starting to build something from the bottom up which, in the long term, could bear great fruits.
The 9-0 loss is irrelevant in the grand scale of things as it is just a bunch of youngsters having a bad game of football which carries no consequence but it is the wider issue of what is happening to the shape of United’s academy at grassroots level which is cause for concern.