Manchester United youth policy on the brink of history

Manchester United youth policy on the brink of history

Manchester United’s game against Everton on Sunday will mark the 4,000th consecutive match in all competitions, where the club has had a homegrown player in the matchday squad.

In a well-articulated piece on the club’s website to remind everyone of the milestone, United’s youthful players will hope they can help their side to a win to mark the day at Old Trafford.

The run started all the way back in 1937 when Tom Manley and Jack Wassall were selected for United’s away game at Fulham.

The youth policy was to see club legend Bobby Charlton make his debut in 1956 but the Munich Air Disaster, two years later when seven of the eight players who lost their lives were homegrown talents with the world at their feet.

In the 1980s, the club welcomed Norman Whiteside and Mark Hughes off the production line by head coach Ron Atkinson.

Alex Ferguson’s arrival as manager, in 1986, would only help strengthen the connection with the youth system and keeper Gary Walsh was his first homegrown debutant in only his sixth match in charge.

A sprinkling of so-called ‘Fergie Fledglings’ helped keep the run going with the following year having Ryan Giggs make his debut. Class of 92 emerged to offer Fergie options such as Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Gary Neville and Nicky Butt. Darren Fletcher and John O’Shea emerged as valuable, and versatile, additions to the squad a year later.

The season after United won the 2008 Champions League, Federico Macheda marked his debut as a 17-year-old with a crucial late winner against Aston Villa to help fend off Liverpool in the title race.

Jonny Evans and Danny Welbeck were just two of the players from the youth team, while the FA Youth Cup-winning team of 2011 included Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard.

By then, Marcus Rashford has also burst onto the scene under the Van Galla, scoring twice on his debut against Midtjylland. Mourinho introduced Scott McTominay who has been an integral part of the club and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is showing signs that he will also invest his faith heavily in youth, dishing out a record-breaking six debuts in the Europa League tie in Kazakhstan against Astana last month.