A year on from his shock signing, Tom Huddlestone has completed his first season at Manchester United and hints at retirement after a happy experience.
Joining in a player-coach role, Huddlestone replaced Paul McShane, who was first used in the revolutionary role for the club’s u21s in the 2021-22 season.
36 year old Huddlestone made 15 appearances for the u21s, with the majority of them coming from the bench to provide experience late in matches.
Posting on Instagram, the former Spurs star said “what a great learning experience this season has been. After 18 seasons solely playing, it has been eye opening to see all the effort & preparation which goes on behind the scenes for each session and games.”
“Unbelievable set of staff who have made my ‘transition’ season very enjoyable and straight forward.”
What a great learning experience this season has been. 18 seasons as a player, never fully appreciating the effort and preparation that goes into the planning of each training session and matches. It has been eye opening. All staff have made my ‘transition’ season memorable #MUFC pic.twitter.com/7KNYffvrk3
— Tom Huddlestone (@Huddz8) May 31, 2023
After a long playing career at the highest level of the game, Huddlestone highlights the stark contrast between being a player and what it takes to be a modern coach behind the scenes.
As for on the pitch, despite Huddlestone’s added experience, United’s u21s had a poor league campaign finishing in 9th place and just two points above the relegation zone.
But there were positives in the campaign, as the u21s made it to the round of 16 in the EFL trophy, tied for the furthest any u21s side made it in the competition and that was in no small part due to Huddlestone’s contributions off the bench, with two assists in four appearances.
Calling it a transition season, the former England international suggests that he will be hanging up his boots this summer and moving into a full time coaching role.
It is not confirmed what role Huddlestone will move into and whether he will remain with the u21s or possibly move to a lower age group like Paul McShane, who is currently a coach in the u18s setup.
Having used the player-coach role for the past two seasons, it remains to be seen whether a new experienced player heading towards the end of their career will be signed up this summer to take the mantle.