There are times at clubs, when the conveyor belt of youth stops churning out talent after talent.
It happens at every club, but at Manchester United just now, the belt seems to be on automatic.
Marcus Rashford is the premie example, and one of many players now good enough to claim a place in the first-team squad, if not the first-team. Louis van Gaal gave youth a chance last season, but predominantly because of the injury situation surrounding the club at that time. LVG had no choice but to blood the youngsters and none of them ever let him down. Actually, they did much to stake a challenge to the older players who took their positions for granted.
The Manchester United production line is famous for bringing through so many players aside from the unique Class of ’92. The newest additions to the England squad, Danny Drinkwater and Tom Heaton, are also from their academy.
Jose Mourinho, who is known to be a manager that favours experience, will need to reinforce his squad without doubt and although he wasn’t known for bringing youth into the first team whilst at Chelsea, he has elsewhere. If they are good enough, they will play, and here are FIVE that will be knocking on his door…
The 20-year-old was sent on loan to Brighton and took his time to settle in. His time there was a bit stop/start, but he gained the experience that will become invaluable to both player and parent club in time. Wilson is wiry and quick rather than physically imposing, and has scored five times this season, albeir with no assists. However, the striker has shown his quality at the Seagulls, but his place in the pecking order at United is clearly uncertain.
Touted as a player with a future, time will tell as to what Jose thinks.
Plenty of praise has been heaped on the 18-year-old and his star is in the ascendancy as he trips off to France with the England team.
His meteoric rise has been met with applause, but for team-mates like James Wilson, he becomes a stumbling block in their progress to the Manchester United first-team. Now that he has shown what he can do in a very short spell, much will be anticipated and required. Of all of the youngsters available to Mourinho, this star shines the brightest.
The 19-year-old has just signed a new contract at Old Trafford which will keep him at the club until June 2020, with the usual option to extend that for another year. The young defender came through the ranks of the academy and made his first-team debut in the Premier League game against West Bromwich Albion in November.
He went on to make 14 more appearances for the first team and also picked up the U-21 Player of the Year award at the Manchester United awards do.
United took the highly rated Ajax centre-back/central midfielder to Old Trafford in the summer of 2014 and he is so highly prized by the coaching staff, that the club have handed him a lucrative four year contract.
The 18-year-old is able to play at centre-back or further forward as a central midfielder and follows the Dutch traditions of being technically excellent with the ball, as well as having a good footballing brain on his shoulders.
A first year academy scholar who is only 17, Williams has been one of the best players to come through the ranks and star in Warren Joyce’s rejuvenated United U-21s side last season.
Named on the bench in the FA Cup replay against West Ham at Upton Park, LVG at last recognised the talent within his own youth system. He’ll bne to emerge in the coming year or two, it seems.