For a club that’s outlook on young players was once immortalised by Alan Hansen’s infamous, ill-fated declaration ‘You can’t win anything with kids’, Manchester United’s youth policy has lost it’s way in recent years.
The likes of Chris Smalling, Rafael, Phil Jones and Tom Cleverley haven’t progressed as expected, whilst Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs became almost immovable yet ineffective institutions during their latter years on the Old Trafford roster.
Having once claimed the Champions League title with an Ajax squad whose average age was just 23, the impending arrival of Louis van Gaal would certainly readdress the balance of young and old at Carrington. The inclusion of young players were also a hallmark of the 62 year-old’s Barcelona and Bayern Munich tenures, where he issued debuts to the likes of Andres Iniesta, Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos.
Not only is the United boss expected to make several youthful acquisitions this summer, but he also has the relishing prospect of working with Belgian prodigy Adnan Januzaj next season. Reportedly, he has big plans for the teenage midfielder.
There’s also United’s latest crop of youngsters, dubbed the Class of 2014 and including recent debutants James Wilson and Tom Lawrence, to begin integrating into the first team, along with loaned-out hotshots Nick Powell, Michael Keane, Wilfried Zaha and Jesse Lingard.