Louis van Gaal and the Manchester United balancing act

Much is being made about the summer that lies ahead. And so it should, there is much work to do, millions to be spent, and gaps to be plugged. But in all the talk of who will be bought in, there is another argument rumbling deep below the surface, one everyone agrees with but won’t talk about for fear it will distract from more pressing matters; what about the Academy?

It is something that brings Manchester United fans great pride the statistic about academy players, it separates our team from everyone else’s. Through all the success, youth is still very much a part of it. But the modern game threatens that stance, and all the talk of what amount of millions will be spent bringing in some lad from Germany threatens this proud tradition; if United sign a someone, where is the place for the up-and-coming youngster in the U21’s?

The fact of the matter is, it shouldn’t scare us. Louis van Gaal is renowned for his faith in youth, he has proved that this season with the use of James Wilson, Tyler Blackett, Paddy McNair and Adnan Januzaj. He has rewarded Andreas Pereira with a new deal and exposed him to the first team. Timothy Fosu-Mensah has been moved to train with the first team, and there has been plenty of incomings at Under 21 level. If anything, the youth system is in as good a state as ever.

In his press conferences, Van Gaal has used a buzz word – balance. It is something he strives to achieve wherever he goes, and promoting young players fits perfectly into that outlook. The balance of youth and experience is essential for success and sustaining that, and van Gaal knows it. So hypothetically, if Mats Hummels is bought in from Dortmund, Paddy McNair is likely to get a lot of appearances to essentially learn by doing.

What us as fans truly fear is falling into the same bucket as City. Chasing glory by throwing millions at foreign imports, neglecting the cornucopia of talent available in the system. But this should not be a worry, where there will be plenty of money thrown about, players like Paddy McNair and James Wilson will still be in the fray. In fact, James Wilson is expected to be one of the strike-force next term. And it would be no surprise if Andreas Pereira was involved a lot more too.

And plus, if Van Gaal didn’t look to add the World Class talent needed to become the complete side then everyone would just moan. Unfortunately the ‘not winning anything with kids’ mentality is more in context now than ever, and teams need to add World stars to the ranks if they wish to be successful. Manchester United won’t be neglecting their academy any time soon, so don’t start fretting about it yet. Let’s just concentrate on getting back to the top, and let the rest come with time. At the end of the day, United are no Manchester City.


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