It has been 79 years and 3,803 games since Manchester United last fielded a side without an Academy graduate involved. It is a record unlike any in world football, and one that fans of the club are rightfully very proud to say the club holds. But it is one that is under threat from the modernisation of the game. The hunger for instant success and growing impatience amongst supporters are hampering coaches desire to take a chance on the youngsters plying their trade in the junior sides. The volume of managers willing to do just this is decreasing by the day, and Manchester United have recently appointed one that is considered to be amongst the most unwilling.
Buried somewhere inside the excitement of being considered real challengers once more lies a worry. A worry that, during quiet periods thus far this summer has risen to the surface for some fans. It’s one that put a lot off the appointment of Jose Mourinho, the ‘what if’ factor. What if this extraordinary run is ended abruptly as silverware replaces tradition in the modern version of Manchester United. It’s the original catch 22 situation. However, the Manchester Evening News report otherwise. They believe that Mourinho may be spurred on by this proud history and won’t want a black mark by his name for all eternity.
This is the job he has always wanted. The seat he has coveted for years now, and the one he believed he had when Sir Alex Ferguson vacated it, only to be usurped by none other than David Moyes. It’s this desire that could work in favour for this long-standing record. Mourinho understands that utilising the talent beyond the first team is the main ethos at Old Trafford. It comes before playing cut throat football and winning trophies. Fans can accept a baron spell, but break this record and your name will forever be poison in terraces as Louis van Gaal so nearly found out. The concerns are founded, that’s for sure. Thus far in his managing career, 49 players from academies at side Mourinho has coached have been given their opportunities at senior level. Louis van Gaal used 12 last season alone. The Portuguese managers’ desire for winning could cloud the situation also. It’s the first time this record has really been threatened.
However, as many causes for concern as there are, the new man is certainly saying the right things. Shortly after dispelling rumours Wayne Rooney will be a midfielder but preferred in attack he was waxing lyrical about the partnership between Marcus Rashford and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Axel Tuanzebe – whose luck with injuries has stunted his progression to senior level – and Tyrell Warren – a name not many have heard of at all – are seemingly in line for a run out in the first press season friendly against Wigan Athletic. He said in his first press conference in a rather unconventional manner that youth will not be forgotten. All signs point to this aspect of the ‘United way’ being upheld.
For those that believe it is clutching at straws, and that eventually this must end I promise you that there is talent coming through. Talent worthy of a place in the first team, in amongst the plethora of stars currently at the club and potentially on their way in. Marcus Rashford and obvious one, so too Jesse Lingard. But with them Timothy Fosu-Mensah, RoShaun Williams, Callum Gribbin, Angel Gomes, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, the list goes on, all well within a shout of being part of the future of Manchester United. Yes, fears about maintaining this piece of history that sets the club aside from the rest are justified, but fears don’t always materialise. Mourinho knows the future is very, very bright.