Manchester United’s unique approach to youth development seems to be paying off behind the scenes.
The club has announced that Tom Huddlestone will continue his “innovative” role of player-coach for at least another season.
Huddlestone joined the club last year as a player-coach with a catch. He worked exclusively with the youngsters and often played as one of the five permitted over-age players in U21 football.
The thinking behind the role was to give the next crop of players an experienced head to learn from in real-time, through guidance in games.
Huddlestone is a full England international with nearly 600 senior appearances for a variety of clubs in a long and distinguished career.
Furthermore, he worked with the prospects on the training field in a coaching capacity.
Huddlestone collaborated with the academy coaches to create programmes to maximise the potential of academy prospects.
The Peoples Person reported that this move had been a success with Huddlestone enjoying his time at the club.
The club started this trend with the signing of English football veteran Paul McShane in 2021. The United Academy graduate fulfilled a similar role to Huddlestone.
He retired from playing duties in 2022 to concentrate completely on his coaching career. Huddlestone was signed as his replacement.
McShane is a full-time academy coach at United now, something Huddlestone might also become once he hangs up his playing boots.
United have started to invest thoroughly in their youth set-up in recent times after years of neglect left them lagging behind the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City.
Results have started to show with the emergence of Alejandro Garnacho, with more talented youngsters waiting in the wings like Kobbie Mainoo, Shea Lacey, and Amir Ibragimov.
Learning from an experienced head like Huddlestone will undoubtedly be beneficial for their professional as well as personal growth as they seek to lead United back to the top of English football.