Despite dropping nearly $250 million in the summer transfer market to sign the likes of Radamel Falcao, Angel Di Maria, Ander Herrera, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind and Luke Shaw, Manchester United will not be abandoning their youth policy.
In fact, according to United legend Ryan Giggs, the Red Devils will never move away from giving youngsters a chance. It’s a system that “separates United from other clubs” and one that “the club will never change”, the Welshman told the Soccerex Global Convention.
It’s a philosophy that started with the Busby Babes in the 1950s and emerged in arguably its strongest form with the ‘Class of 92’, which included Giggs, Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Gary Neville and Phil Neville. But since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, United has struggled both on the pitch and managerially resulting in a season without European football for the first time in two decades.
When further challenged on United’s dedication to youth given the recent sale of homegrown talent Danny Welbeck to Arsenal, Giggs showed faith in new manager Louis van Gaal.
“Ok, Danny has left (for Arsenal), which is obviously disappointing because you never want to see a homegrown player leave but we have got a manager now, Louis Van Gaal, who gave Clarence Seedorf his chance, Patrick Kluivert his chance, Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Thomas Mueller their chance when they were young,” Giggs said.
“He has a track record of giving youngsters a chance. Tyler Blackett has played every game this season, then you’ve got (Adnan) Januzai, James Wilson coming through so players will always leave but we have to make sure youngsters come through because United fans demand it.”
For Giggs, there is the added sentimentality of having risen from the youth ranks: “I want to see young players do what I did. That has always been the way through Manchester United’s history and we don’t want to lose that. . . . We are proud of our youth system and we feel that’s what separates us from a lot of other clubs.”
Uplifting words for United supporters, especially those concerned about compliance with Financial Fair Play. But in the ever-changing landscape of European club football, bringing in major talents is an equally important component. And if this summer’s business was any indication, expect United to continue signing at least one big name talent every summer.