In more recent times, the likes of Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay are just two of those to have bridged the gap from youth prospect to senior star, with it seemingly engrained in the fabric of the club to try and promote from within.
New manager Erik ten Hag is certainly familiar with that approach, having assembled a hugely impressive young side at his former club Ajax, managing to combine that focus on youth with both domestic success and strong showings in Europe.
While it is still early days in the Dutchman’s tenure, the 52-year-old has already showcased a willingness to give a chance to those in the youth setup, notably handing minutes to teenage starlet Alejandro Garnacho, as well as giving striker Charlie McNeill his first taste of senior action in the recent defeat to Real Sociedad.
One young man who could well be the next academy asset to force his way into United’s first-team reckoning is 17-year-old Kobbie Mainoo, with the exciting midfielder having been training with Cristiano Ronaldo and the like ahead of that clash against the La Liga club.
While the Stockport-born gem was unable to secure a place in the matchday squad for that Europa League encounter at Old Trafford, it would seem that he is already creeping into the new manager’s thoughts, having sparkled at youth level in recent times.
The highly-rated menace was notably part of the United side which claimed FA Youth Cup glory for the first time since 2011 in May, with that previous batch of winners having included the likes of Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Ravel Morrison.
While it was young Garnacho stealing the headlines with his goalscoring exploits in attack – scoring twice in the showpiece triumph over Nottingham Forest – it was Mainoo holding things together at the base of the midfield, with the pair tipped to be the “future” of the club by journalist Rhys Jones.
The “dominant” youngster – as previously lauded by Samuel Luckhurst – more recently impressed in the under-21s’ Papa John’s Trophy victory over Carlisle United, with the imposing midfielder showcasing his array of talent in what was a truly magnificent and confident performance.
Fresh from signing his first professional contract just a few months earlier, the teenager caught the eye at Brunton Park with his composed display in the middle of the park, so often breezing past the opposition in a manner which belied his tender years.
At a time when the Red Devils are somewhat smarting after missing out on summer target Frenkie de Jong, Ten Hag could well help to save the Glazers millions by turning to another progressive and forward-thinking midfield asset in Mainoo.