Nicky Butt is Manchester United’s new Head of First Team Development; who better than a former player to guide young stars?

Former Manchester United midfielder and Class of 1992 graduate Nicky Butt has been given a new role at the Old Trafford club by executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward. Butt returned to United 2012 as a coach and was then announced as the Head of the Academy in 2016, moving onto a new role this summer as part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reshuffle.

Butt has been made the Head of First Team Development and will work closely with Solskjaer. Butt will oversee the development of the likes of Mason Greenwood, Tahith Chong, James Garner, Angel Gomes, amongst others in their rise to the first team from the Academy ranks at the club. Butt will be looking to see younger players step up in the future.

The former midfielder is part of Manchester United’s DNA and will thrive in this new role, which also furthers his career at the club, growing from a coach to the head of the Academy, now in an important role which will concentrate on the talented players who will grow into regular first team players in the future. Butt, speaking to the official Manchester United website, said:

“Manchester United is in my DNA and this is a very proud moment for me as I take on this new role.

“I am passionate about nurturing, developing and coaching the talent we have here to become top players at this club.

“Under Ole’s leadership, our vision will ensure that we continue to provide the right environment for our young players to thrive in.”

Butt has been replaced by Nick Cox as the Head of the Academy. Cox spent eleven years at Watford, leaving in 2012 as the head of their Academy, becoming the Academy manager at Sheffield United, until 2016 when he became the Academy Operations Manager at United. Cox has worked with a variety of managers, such as; Sean Dyche, Brendan Rogers, Nigel Clough, Jose Mourinho and Solskjaer, also working with many young players making their rise in the game; Jadon Sancho, Dominic Calvert Lewin, David Brooks, Mason Greenwood, James Garner, Tahith Chong. Cox said:

“Having spent over 20 years working to support the development of young people, it is an honour to be asked to lead the Manchester United Academy.

“Traditionally we have always been leaders in creating an outstanding environment in which young footballers can thrive.

“Today’s changes will further enhance the excellent structure that we have in place to maximise the potential of all of our young players.”

Executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward also spoke about the new role for both Butt and Cox. It has been suggested for some time that United would have a Technical Director, a Sporting Director or a Director of Football with the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Darren Fletcher rumoured in the media. Perhaps this is the role that was touted? Woodward, speaking to the official Manchester United website, said:

“These changes will further enhance the excellent work and results we have seen over many decades in our Academy system and enable us to continue our proud traditions of producing world-class players capable of playing and excelling in the first team.”

It may not have been what supporters expected but it does create a better path for those within the Academy who are destined for bigger and better things. What better way to be guided into the first team by someone who was in the same position themselves. It will be good to see the talent coming into the first team in the future. The likes of Greenwood, Chong, Garner and Gomes might be the bright lights at the moment but there is a lot more to come from the clubs Academy in the future.

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