Showing posts with label FA Youth Cup. Show all posts
Showing posts with label FA Youth Cup. Show all posts

Erik ten Hag it is!

David Ornstein of the Athletic broke the news of Manchester United having reached a verbal agreement with Erik ten Hag to become their next permanent manager. United had considered a four man shortlist for the job that included Mauricio Pochettino of PSG, Julien Lopetegui of Sevilla and Luis Enrique the Spanish national team coach. It was a dead heat between ten Hag and Pochettino after the other two ruled themselves out and in the online twitter poll that Gary Neville conducted the Dutchman was the overwhelming fans favourite by 82:18 margin while most of ex-United players backed the Argentine. Pochettino was strongly rumoured to take over from Louis van Gaal after meeting Sir Alex Ferguson in May, 2016 and has been linked with United job ever since. Erik ten Hag is seen as more steady with his stock on the rise while Pochettino had a difficult season at PSG with superstar players.

Erik ten Hag will be the second Dutch manager at United after Louis van Gaal, and

  • at 52 years of age would be around the same age as when Jose Mourinho took over in 2016
  • with a 4-years contract is the second lengthiest after Moyes' 6-years in post Ferguson era
  • he was assistant to former Sir Alex Ferguson assistant Steve McClaren at FC Twente in 2008 and McClaren could return to United if ten Hag wants
  • perhaps the first defender in his playing days to manage United since 1946 and played for FC Twente in 3 stints winning the Dutch Cup in 2001. All other previous United managers were either wing halfs or forwards as players.
  • None of the previous managers after Ferguson have even last 3 years. Gaffer used to say it takes 4 years to have all XI starting players of ones choice.

His best moment came in 2018-19 season in Champions' League when Ajax defeated Real Madrid who were attempting to win 4th straight trophy, by 4-1 and at Santiago Bernabeu with Dusan Tadic getting a perfect 10 score for his performance in that match! Ajax then beat Juventus in quater-finals but lost to Tottenham managed by Pochettino in semis in 96th minute. That season Ajax won Eredivisie for the first time in 5 years! United have not won the league since 2013. Both clubs have good academies and Erik ten Hag is known to bring players through. Despite losing most of his brightest young players he not only created a new winning team and won Eredivisie again in 2020-21 but changed the style, from false 9 and inverted wingers to out-an-out number 9 with wingers. In this seasons Champions' League Ajax won all 6 of their group stage matches against Borussia Dotmund, Sporting Lisbon and Besiktas but lost in the knock-out phase to Benfica with Darwin Nunez, a target for United to replace Edinson Cavani scoring the winner. In the knock-out phases ten Hag has had more favourable results away than at home at the Amstredam Arena.

At United the Glazers love big name players like Paul Pogba, Cristiano Ronaldo who generate lot of social media buzz. Hope Joel Glazer, Richard Arnold and John Murtough understand that they would need to stand by their manager in any event of a contest with those big name players. If they repeat the stance they took against Jose Mourinho they will help repeat the chaos of last 9 years not rectify it. Having understood the setup first-hand Ralf Rangnick can play a crucial role to ease Erik ten Hag who has thrived under director of football at Ajax but the structure at United is still vague with most decisions deferred to Glazers. Stadium re-development plans having been initiated the board must ensure that does not drain the resources for investment in the first team. Board must act quickly to get the transfers done early in order for Erik ten Hag to have a full pre-season(Thailand and Australia) to mould the squad that failed previously to adapt to Rangnick's 4-2-2-2 itself. He often stresses on a particular trait "creating space for others with off-the ball runs" which United players can only embrace in training. Incidentally lack of standard 'training'  was one of the major issues pointed out by players about the regime of Solskjaer and Rangnick, with ten Hag that will be firmly resolved.

After an underwhelming season a host of United players are nearing their end of contracts(6) which will clear the squad for a rebuild - exit of Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani, Nemanja Matic, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Lee Grant should free up the wage bill enomously. Under utilized players(3) like Dean Henderson, Eric Bailly, Phil Jones and decide the futures of players returning from loan(7) like Donny van de Beek, Anthony Martial, Axel Tuanzebe, Andeas Pereira, Tahith Chong, Amad, Facundo Pellistri. Thats easily about 12 players as Amad and Pellistri are highly rated youngsters! One player most thrilled by this appointment will be Donny van de Beek. Crucial will be to bring in 4 to 5 young and hungry players to spruce up the squad and not repeat the mistake made under Moyes where only Fellaini and Mata were brought in. Availability of Anthony Elanga and James Garner will be of tremendous help. While the biggest question is not the future of Cristiano Ronaldo but of Mason Greenwood and especially if he cannot play regularly next season United will have to prioritize the signing of a forward like Darwin Nunez urgently.

Based on available resource Erik ten Hag has modified the team's style of play at Ajax. At United will Harry Maguire be able to play a high defensive line? Will the handicap of McTominay and Fred be finally over? Luke Shaw's defensive liability be tolerated? Over reliance on Bruno Fernandes be reduced? Struggling Marcus Rashford regain his form? Chose between David de Gea or Dean Henderson? Problems of plenty but lacking the ability to control the game from midfield. A single high profile signing of Declan Rice or combination of Reuben Neves, Aurelien Tchouameni, Amadou Haidara, Yves Bissouma or Kalvin Phillips. On a positive note Erik tan Hag can in the future look to pick from players who have reached the FA Youth Cup finals in Alejandro Garnacho, Charlie McNeil, Kobbie Mainoo, Daniel Gore, Marc Juardo, Rhys Bennett et al, an option and quality in such numbers unavailable to most of his predecessors as United's previous final was in 2011.

United move from having the guru of Jurgen Klopp in Ralf Rangnick as interim manager to former assistant to Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich where he trained the players to be ready for the first team while playing in the same style. Tottenham's ascent to 4th spot with the best manager available then in Antonio Conte proves yet again that it is the singlemost important appointment at a football club. Guardiola, Klopp, Tuchel and Conte all but fortifying the top 4 the best that can be expected of ten Hag is 5th place finish next season but importantly a clear style of play with Manchester United DNA.

Five Elanga's

Anthony Elanga is perhaps the lone bright spark in a dismal season thus far for Manchester United. To cap his fantastic run he scored against Athletico Madrid in the knock out phase of the Champions' League to keep the tie level at 1-1 after a tepid first half. This problem of slow start which was the bane of Solskjaer regime has reared its head again. Crucially for the interim boss Ralf Rangick his substitutions have been generally well timed with the right personnel enabling him to save face. Loss to championship side Middlesbrough in fourth round of the FA Cup ended all hopes of winning any trophy this season, and another season became a write-off.

Ralf Rangnick was the last appointment of Ed Woodward who is now gone, and it increasingly sounds like the new CEO Richard Arnold wants to stamp his authority by getting the summer appointment of Manchester United's permanent manager correct. This will mean United might not get the maximum out of the German guru and further depriving the morale of coaching staff and players wrt targets for this on-going season. This is especially hard on the players and Fred who has improved under Rangnick lamented "I think it's a little bit bad for us not to have one(permanent manager), at the moment it's all about the short-term goals. We don't know how it's going to be after the end of this season." 

United have tried big name managers in Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho who to their credit won trophies justifying the decision but the success was not lasting. Big spending on players not only continued surprisingly under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but increased drastically - Maguire, wan-Bissaka, James, Fernandes, van de Beek, Amad, Cavani, Sancho, Varane. Without pre-season training to embed the ideas of the football guru Ralf Rangnick, the players are markedly struggling to implement the tactics during matches. Rangnick shelved 4-2-2-2 to quasi Solskjaer 4-1-2-3 formation which is slightly different than 4-2-3-1. This highlights the importance of recruitment which has to be consistent in line with United's identity. Moyes should have been backed by 3 to 4 young and hungry players to add energy into that old team which won the last Premier League title under Sir Alex Ferguson. Take heed.

In the interim capacity Ralf Rangnick has stopped the leakage of goals from the previous regime and exponentially increased the shots on target to be the best in English Premier League since his tenure started yet the conversion rate with Ronaldo, Rashford, Cavani, Sancho is very poor. Mason Greenwood who is suspended and still has the 3rd best goal stats just behind Ronaldo and Fernandes. Suspension coming near the end of the January transfer window and the club chose not to replace the striker perhaps not sure about the gravity of the case. Rangnick has since explicitly said that United need new striker in the summer as "obvious". Without Greenwood, United drew at Burnley, Southampton and Watford which might well deny United the top four finish with tougher matches against Man City, Tottenham and Liverpool lined back to back. Anthony Elanga who needs to be managed to not be burnt-out started one and came on as a sub in two of these drawn games.

This player hesitency to grasp newer ideas and Elanga's application has clearly demonstrated the way forward for Manchester United yet again. Promote youth from within or buy young players to give the next manager the best chance of being a success. Roy Keane rightly said the players will throw the manager under the bus after Mourinho was sacked and the loss to Middlesbrough highlighted the fact when United missed not just chances but even a penalty from perhaps the greatest player of all time! As a fan I wanted to stop watching football for rest of the season. The answer is for United to have five Elanga's in the same starting XI. Jadon Sancho is finally thriving proving this point further and also James Garner excelling at Nottingham Forest will help the club to trim the requirement down to 2 or 3. Fans would have loved to see Axel Tuanzebe or Teden Mengi get the attention from Rangnick and be ahead of Eric Bailly and Phil Jones. Elanga, Sancho and Garner all set who could be other two and which part of the pitch specifically for next season?

Central defensive midfield and centre-forward. Dylan Levitt already with 10 caps for Wales and Ethan Galbraith the former teammates of Garner will get a shot. While Garner has done well at Forest, Galbraith has got good playing time at Doncaster who are fighting to avoid relegation and Levitt has been hampered with injury at Dundee United which suggests the duo might need another season of regular football elsewhere before being in a position to succeed at United. Below them in the pecking order are this season's debutants Zidane Iqbal, the first British South Asian to represent United and Charlie Savage, the son of ex-United player Robbie Savage while Hannibal Mejbri has been fast tracked to the first team after his debut in the last game of last season. Clearly these are not immediate solutions for next season. With developments at Chelsea where the Roman Abramovich era is coming to an end, United could find themselves in pole position to sign Declan Rice, 23 given the huge transfer fee or be wise to opt for Aurélien Tchouaméni, 22 and for above mentioned profile of players should be in the hunt for forwards Darwin Nunez, 22 or Victor Osimhen, 23 or Alexander Isak, 22.

Meanwhile Alejandro Garnacho, 17 year old who has been the main goal threat in FA Youth Cup where the club has reached the semi-final stage for the first time since 2012 semi-final loss to Chelsea. Garnacho has been included in the provisional 44-man squad for World Cup qualifiers by Argentinian National team who have already qualified. United and Wolves competed for the first two FA Youth Cup finals in '53 and '54. If United progress they are likely to meet Chelsea or Forest in the finals. United have invested heavily since the summer of 2020 on U18 players like Willy Kambwala, Charlie McNeil, Joe Hugill, Logan Pye, Marc Jurado, Alvaro Fernandes, Radek Vitek, Isak Hansen-Aaroen, Alejandro Garnacho, Manni Norkett and Ethan Ennis. Strategically this could be United most important competition for the rest of this season. Garnacho is guaranteed a first team debut if he stays injury free.

"If you’re good enough, you’re old enough." Busby's clarion call to introduce the Babes in 1950's and four decades later Fergie's Fledglings.

PS: RIP Frank O'Farrell and Xmas of 71 being top of the league with George Best banging in the goals after Sir Matt Busby had retired! Injuries and lack of signings into the 1968 European Cup winning team turned the tide. Tommy Docherty took the lessons from his predecessor, and United must listen to Jose Mourinho warning to end this vicious repeatitive cycle plaguing the present team.

Solskjaer must deliver now that Fernandes and Ighalo are in

The protracted transfer of Bruno Fernandes and deadline day dream of Odion Ighalo realized to assuage not only Solskjaer but also the agitating fans who brought upon themselves disrepute by throwing flare at Ed Woodward's home. Fernandes was being chased by Manchester United for a long time yet it consumed almost the entire January window to leave too little time to process for a much needed striker given the injury to Marcus Rashford. Odion Ighalo top scored for 3rd place Nigeria in the 2019 African Cup of Nations ahead of much fancied Mo Salah, Riyad Mahrez, Sadio Mane, Wilfred Zaha and becomes the first major signing to a big club in the English Premier League from the Chinese Super League. Fans are fully behind the Nigerian who gets to fulfill his wish of emulating his childhood hero's Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke in playing for his beloved club. The loan move also means that MUFC do not spend big on a short term assignment and at the same time get an option to sign him later if indeed he proves to be a success at Old Trafford.

The results since the new year has been depressing. Loss to Arsenal, Liverpool and Burnley sandwiched between the two legged progress in the FA Cup against Wolves and a loss in two legs to neighbours City in the League Cup. The two victories came against bottom side Norwich and league two side Tranmere in the FA Cup 4th round! Burnley beat MUFC at Old Trafford for the first time since September, 1962. The last match before the winter break was a draw against Wolves in which Bruno Fernandes made his debut with five shots of goal, organizing the midfield but dropped deep to support the team that reduced his potency to score or assist. MUFC played better in the second half, after 88 minutes Dalot was introduced to play on right wing not Tahith Chong and the Portuguese sent his header off Man of the Match Aaron Wan-Bissaka's cross wide of the goal.

This game saw the victims of Munich air disaster remembered by a ceremony before the game at the memorial and during the game with a round of applause in the 58th minute. Neither Ed Woodward nor the Glazer family were present in the stadium to mark one of most important events in the annual calendar of the great institution that Sir Matt Busby painstakingly build from the bombed Old Trafford pitch post the war. The fans walk-out protest did not materialize either in the 68th minute. United and Wolves having played each other six times within a year lacked the edge to tilt the match as players and staff longed for the winter break due to depleted squad and additional matches for Europa League qualification respectively. The winter break after almost two thirds of the league fixtures having been completed isn't correctly placed but is positive step towards fulfilling a long standing demand from Sir Alex Ferguson who cited this as a major reason why continental teams had an edge in winning the European trophies during his reign. United now have not scored a goal in their last three league games against Liverpool, Burnley and Wolves.

The next six games are against Chelsea, Watford, Everton, Man City, Tottenham and Sheffield United till 21st March while most of the later seven games of the season are against the bottom half of the league except the last one against Leicester City. Solskjaer has got the two players to push for the top four, and two Cups FA and Europa. For final top four spot there are ten clubs within seven point gap chasing Chelsea including MUFC. Solskjaer is yet to win three consecutive league matches this season and based on form will lead United to its lowest ever points total in Premier League history. The return date of Paul Pogba is not yet known. Based on form if Solskjaer finishes outside the top six and fails to win a trophy questions will be raised over his position. Mauricio Pochettino who has worked on a shoe-string budget will attract the interest of any club owner, more so the business minded Glazers. As in the summer and January window this break will also see a plethora of stories linking Manchester United to attract its millions of fans to sites based at times not on fact but fiction like the take-over by Saudi's, player stories like Pogba and summer transfer wish list.

United face yet another old team of Tommy Docherty in Derby County in 5th round of FA Cup at Pride Park where Wayne Rooney is trying to revive the clubs push for promotion. Tonight the youth team play Leeds in the FA Youth Cup 5th round a stage reached for the first time since 2012 speaks volumes of the way the competition synonymous with Busby Babes and club now have not kept pace. The restructuring of the youth setup in the summer is progressing in the right direction at least. The prospect of Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba playing together will cheer the supporters only if the club becomes more transparent over the Frenchman's progress from injury which on paper does not sound too serious. Pogba doing well at Euro 2020 and later sold to the highest bidder in the extended summer transfer window till end of August is the best hope. Fans though are more excited about Scott McTominay's return to help push for top 4.

4000th consecutive game with a youth from academy in match day squad!

That's an incredible feat for a club that struggled financially in the 1930's to survive and achieved success out of it in post war on account of 'Busby Babes' yet persisted with the philosophy even through the doldrums years of 70's and 80's till Ferguson's Fledglings' to the present day!

Re-posting the following from an earlier blog post. "Manchester United Junior Athletic Club formed in 1937 was a brain child of the then club chairman James W Gibson to make MUFC competitive in economic depression when he saved them from the brink and were unable to fund any transfers. James Gibson secured the acquisition of the Cliff training ground, persuaded Midland Railway operating Manchester Central to London St Pancras trains to stop at Old Trafford on match days to increase gate receipts and MUJAC helped in discovering players from Charlie Mitten to Marcus Rashford. MUFC can count on at least one player from the academy in their first team on a match day squad since then which is 4,000 games over 82 years!! No wonder MUFC top the rankings of promoting academy players to first team."

The first match in question was against Fulham away in second division on 30th October, 1937 which MUFC lost 0-1. The full squad was Breen (GK), Griffiths, Roughton, Brown, Vose, McKay, Wrigglesworth, Wassal, Bamford, Whalley, Manley. Wassal & Manley the youth from academy. MUFC came second that year to gain their second promotion of the decade and stayed in the top division for 36 years. Scott Duncan the coach since 1932 had resigned midway through the season on 09-November over disagreement with youth policy and once again it was left to loyal club servant Walter Crickmer in temporary charge supported by Louis Rocca and Tom Curry to carry the club through the tough times delivering the promotion that gained MUFC an elite status during the war years.

Louis Rocca the chief scout had signed the young Johnny Carey who debuted on 25th September, against Southampton and scored his first goal against Nottingham Forest a club he would manage later in his career. Jack Rowley signed by James Gibson when he was on a vacation to Bournemouth debuted on 23-October against Sheffield Wednesday and scored a hat-trick aged 17 years vs Swansea Town. Salford born local lad snapped up by Louis Rocca in Stan Pearson debuted against Chesterfiled on 13-November and would eventually score 149 goals in 345 appearances across 17 years interrupted by war. Groundwork was laid before Sir Matt Busby took up the reins post war and this trio played a major part to ensure success in 1948 FA Cup and winning the League Championship 3 years later.

MUFC chairman said of MUJAC at the AGM in 1939 "It is from these unusually comprehensive nurseries that the club hopes an all-Manchester team at some distant period might be produced." MUFC finished 14th on their return to top flight, the reserves won the central league for the first time in 18 years, 'A' team won the Manchester League and MUJAC won their division of Chorlton League - a very successful year indeed.

Busby took MUJAC to another level when he insisted on having four sides competing for a place in the first team thereby increasing the scope and age groups of players, assigning coaches, consistent playing style to ease the promotion to first team that ensured MUFC winning the first six FA Youth Cups from 1953 to 1957. One of Busby's oft quoted phrase “If they are good enough, they are old enough.”. The 1964 FA Youth Cup winners George Best, David Sadler, John Fitzpatrick, John Aston Jr, Jimmy Rimmer who played in the victorious 1968 European Cup campaign. Busby was immensely helped by his chief scout Joe Armstrong and his magnificent team, his assistant Jimmy Murphy, trainer Tom Curry, coaches Bert Whalley, Bill Inglis, Jack Crompton, Wilf McGuinness.
Post Busby the baton was led forward by Wilf McGuinness, Tommy Docherty, Frank Blunstone, Bill Foulkes, Tommy Cavanagh and importantly Eric Harrison who arrived in 1981 aided in promoting Mark Hughes, Norman Whiteside, Clayton Blackmore, Graeme Hogg immediately making it to the 1982 FA Youth Cup final. Later Eric Harrison combined effectively with the rebuild of Sir Alex Ferguson that unearthed the 'Fergie's Fledgling's' the famous pic below made up of players from 1992 and 1995 FA Youth Cup winners. Before the 1995-96 season opener against Aston Villa when Ferguson fielded his young side that lost 1-3 prompting BBC pundit Alan Hansen to say "You can't win anything with kids" which was debunked the same season by winning the championship, but it was in the match against Port Vale in League Cup the previous year that Ferguson had made his Fledglings to play together and win courtesy of two debut goals by Paul Scholes.

Succeeding Eric Harrison were Les Kershaw, Brian McClair, and Nicky Butt who have held the prestigious role of director of youth academy in recent past. Archie Knox, Brian Kidd, Steve McLaren, Jimmy Ryan and Mike Phelan, Carlos Queiroz serving as assistants to Ferguson have contributed greatly. Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard from the current team were part of the last FA Youth Cup triumph in 2011. Iconic image of today's generation led by Marcus Rashford as the juniors look up to the lad from Wythenshawe for inspiration. The increased impetus to promoting youth before looking for external first team recruits has endeared Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to the fans despite some disappointing form and firmly believe in his vision for a bright MUFC future. 

Please find the link to the excellent book 'Sons of United' which has been painstakingly put together by Tony and Steve here.  Ferguson described watching a young Ryan Giggs (was known as Ryan Wilson before changing his name) for the first time after a tip off from scout Harold Wood as "A gold miner who has searched every part of the river or mountain and then suddenly finds himself staring at a nugget could not feel more exhilaration than I did watching Giggs that day." While the railway timetable became the best companion of Sir Matt Busby who used to go all around the country on weekdays to seek the next nugget.

My Greatest MUJAC team: David Gaskell (GK), Gary Neville, Eddie Colman(C), Bill Foulkes, Phil Neville, George Best, Paul Scholes, Duncan Edwards, Ryan Giggs, Mark Hughes, Sir Bobby Charlton

Wrong to the compare Chelsea and MUFC youth

Chelsea will start as favourites in the League Cup fourth round match on Wednesday at Stamford Bridge on back of seven consecutive victories. They had a better squad when Frank Lampard took over amid the transfer ban and ushered in the youth players who had been winning the FA Youth Cup for 6 of last 7 years, having them loaned out to other clubs in between to continue their development.

Its a complete contrast to what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer inherited at Manchester United. Top players not willing to come to MUFC after Sir Alex Ferguson retired, players bought under four different managers with differing styles, two clear outs by Louis van Gaal and Solskjaer that made the squad thin, failure to win the FA Youth Cup since 2011, reserves team suffered relegation, many potential youth players being snapped up by other clubs, dressing room in disarray, players wanting out, players biding their time not playing, many long term injuries,... in short a complete mess. Neither the management had a recruitment team like Chelsea that brought players with a clear philosophy irrespective of who was the manager. That meant a life-long MUFC fan Christian Pulisic joining the blues of Chelsea having been on their radar and not of the Reds of Manchester.

Credit to Solskjaer to have started with a clear out and uniting the dressing room by promoting the youth with Marcus Rashford the torch bearer at a tender age of just 21 with 50 goals already. That's also putting pressure on them quite early. Mason Greenwood, Tahit Chong, Angel Gomes, Axel Tuanzebe, Brandon Williams and James Garner are still very young compared to the Chelsea counterparts in their first team by about 2 to 4 years and without being loaned out nor having experienced playing every week. At that age the difference is massive to learn the nuances of the game, to recover from a game or injury, adjust to the pace, adapt to travel across Europe, have more than one pre-season training to prepare for a grueling schedule. Tammy Abraham is older than Marcus Rashford let alone Mason Greenwood with whom he is compared with wrongly & by 4 years.

MUFC being synonymous with Busby Babes by winning six straight FA Youth Cup's from its inception and later Sir Alex Ferguson reviving it with Eric Harrison which is a policy that many have tried to emulate since. Only Chelsea have matched the Busby Babes record for winning six straight FA Youth Cups and incidentally last year MUFC stopped them by beating in the 3rd round itself thereby protecting the Busby Babes record. MUFC last won the FA Youth Cup in 2011 with Paul Pogba, Ravel Morrison, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Jesse Lingard, Keane brothers and since then have struggled year after year. Last time MUFC went past the 5th round of FA Youth Cup was in 2012 in a semi-final loss to eventual winners guess who, Chelsea! That's clearly a big gulf between the two youth setup's however reputed MUFC youth team were once upon a time.

Chelsea have over the last five years been loaning out its players to teams across the continent and can count a dozen goal keepers on its books. That's a very large pool of players for each position in the team that the coaching staff can choose to bring into the first team. MUFC can hope for only two loaned out players Dean Henderson at Sheffield United and Aidan Barlow at Tromso to break into the first team. Frank Lampard being the Chelsea legend is making good on the last accusation of his club i.e., not integrating the youth in the first team although forced by the transfer ban to groom Callum Hudson-Odoi, Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori, Recce James, et al. Chelsea not only won the FA Youth Cup's but did so by thumping their opponents Manchester City and Arsenal by scores like 6-1 or 4-2 such has been their dominance. Jody Morris who coached most of these players has returned as assistant to Frank Lampard.

Solskjaer was a reserve team coach when Paul Pogba was groomed before joining Juventus. Ricky Sbragia was brought back and sacked, Warren Joyce left to join Salford City in July this year and replaced by team of Neil Wood and Quinton Fortune. Finally Nicky Butt has vacated his role as academy director to be replaced by Nick Cox from Sheffield who moves up from being academy operations manager. With the focus on hiring young British talent Solskjaer will look to Nicky Butt as head of first team development to provide them coaching as the Norwegian will have limited time as Manager. Cup competition is by no means the only yardstick to gauge the success of youth players but not getting beyond the 5th round since 2012 is a huge failure on both scouting system and development. Here's hoping Nick Cox to turn things around.

Manchester United Junior Athletic Club formed in 1937 was a brain child of the then club chairman James W Gibson to make MUFC competitive in economic depression when he saved them from the brink and were unable to fund any transfers. James Gibson secured the acquisition of the Cliff training ground, persuaded Midland Railway operating Manchester Central to London St Pancras trains to stop at Old Trafford on match days to increase gate receipts and MUJAC helped in discovering players from Charlie Mitten to Marcus Rashford. MUFC can count on at least one player from the academy in their first team on a match day squad since then which is 3,989 games over 81 years!! No wonder MUFC top the rankings of promoting academy players to first team. Chelsea under Lampard are all set to catch up.

Erik ten Hag's future uncertain despite the heroics against Liverpool in FA Cup

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