With countless successful promotions from the youth team to the first team at Manchester United and success in the three previous U21 Premier League competitions, one would expect a drive to succeed in all cases in Manchester United’s youth setup. However, in the aftermath of United U23’s loss to Southampton, Warren Joyce has put the debate to those inferable beliefs.
Speaking to MUTV, Joyce has called Manchester United’s U23s ‘deluded’ for believing that they already have secured a career in football. Explaining his team reaction over the game, Joyce claimed to have used the word ‘embarrassed’ on multiple occasions throughout pre-season. The U23 coach believes United’s youngsters have careers in jeopardy for the first time due to a lack of willingness to work hard.
“It’s not the first time that I’ve actually said to this group straight after the game ‘you‘re actually embarrassed — the way we’ve played. It’s probably the third time in the preseason games.
“It’s not an automatic thing at this place that players just go on and be successful, as they have been in the last few years, where if they’re not good enough to play for Manchester United they drift into leagues and have successful careers.
“This group are almost deluded really, as to where they’re at. And there is certainly a lot of hard work to be put in during the coming season to keep our head above water, really.There’s no shame in not quite being good enough to play for Manchester United but you can’t be deluded and think you’re further along than you are as well. We were second best by a long way.”
Joyce said his disappointment is best understood in two connected ways. The first is the fact he wants his players to reflect the personality he has, a unified team with a collective goal, and he felt the team has failed to do that in recent weeks. Joyce also believes that sometimes he has more ambition to create careers for his players than his players have ambition for themselves. He went as far as to encourage his players to look at past academy graduates and understand the work they needed to do to build careers for themselves.
“You want your team to have the personality of yourself, so that’s why it’s frustrating for myself really. I think I’ve got a little bit more ambition than some of them have, for them to have successful careers.
“There are one or two who have been in and around the group, while not necessarily in the team, for a while now, and they’ve got to look at the players that have gone in the past and what they’ve had and what they’ve given and what they’ve done, and how much desire and drive they have to play for the club and try to play for the first team.”
United’s youth ranks are undoubtedly stocked with talent, so it would be unfortunate to hear that the players lack the motivation to be successful at the club. United has seen disciplinary issues in the recent past from the likes of Andreas Pereira and Adnan Januzaj, which makes Joyce’s statements seem plausible, but at the same time, he would’ve been upset about the result in the heat of the moment. I suppose we will only see who is correct later in the season when we can see how Joyce’s men end up performing in the U23 Premier League.