Winner’s mentality is important in the Manchester United Academy says Nicky Butt

Manchester United are famously known for producing great players as we all have in mind the great generation of Busby Babes and later on the Class of ’92. The most important thing is that the later generation dominated for a long time in England; they were also crowned Kings of Europe by winning the Champions League in 1999. Part of the Class of ’92, Academy chief Nicky Butt is aiming to take the Academy in the highest ranks, applauding the work that has been done so far but also seeking for more in the future. This would mean to keep the tradition alive and produce your own talent, meaning that these players would know the team from the roots and fans always welcome homegrown, making it all special.

In a recent interview for the club’s website, Nicky Butt explained what he is up to, but also looks at the examples in the first team, part of the United Academy for a long time. However, he does state that the most important thing is that the players develop mentally and have the right attitude, as despite not ending up having a career, they’d still be successful in other areas of life.

“I think it’s massive to develop mentally. Wherever it is, you’ve got to have the right mental attitude towards work and towards other people. You’ve got to be a good person, and I believe that, even though a few inevitably slip through the net as in any other walk of life, we produce good people here. Hopefully they work in football but, if not, they go on to do other things successfully.”

A winner’s mentality is what it takes to succeed at United and that’s what Nicky Butt asks from the managers who take care of these players. Not leaving anyone out of their sight and getting him ready for the new season.

“It’s drilled into you from an early age. It’s all well and good being a United player, but you need to be a winner. Ultimately, if you’re not winning things here, you won’t last long, and that’s a fact. The manager will look to someone else who can win.”

Young players who have failed to make the break must understand that a club like Manchester United is determined to win titles or at least to be contenders for the award, meaning that players who can’t live up to it, simply cannot be in here. Despite this there’s always a good chance they find another club and many have proven to be good enough for different clubs in other leagues.

“This club has built its foundations on winning, we’ve always won things and been successful. We’ve had dry spells, like any club, but we always get back to winning. If you’re not a winner, if you’re not brought up with that winning mentality, you’re going to struggle in the first team.”

In spite of the struggles in the recent years, many youngsters have made their United debuts, but only a few of them are now part of the first team as regulars and the hold the weight of the club’s Academy on their shoulders. Even Michael Carrick has won the status of getting to know the club really well and this is key in a club like Manchester United:

“People like Marcus [Rashford], Jesse [Lingard] and Paul [Pogba], people who know the system, they have to carry the club now. As well as Michael Carrick, who knows the place inside out. These young players who come in for a lot of money might not know the club or the environment or the area, so it’s up to those guys to incorporate them into United and instill those beliefs.”

However. it’s not only the aspects of football they need to learn, getting them out of their comfort zone and learning them the basis of life and making them adapt to life and feel like it’s home.

“They need to be introducing them to Kath on reception [at the AON Training Complex], letting them know how long she’s been here at the club. They have to know about how many players she’s seen come through those doors down the years and decades. They need to recognise the laundry people, the canteen ladies, the chefs, the groundstaff and security lads – they’re part of our family and you need to say ‘good morning’ to them every single day.”

Fame and glory are not everything and that’s what Butt wants to transmit at the new youngsters. Everyone is equal and once you enter the building they are equal.

“When you come to United, the players are the superstars and the ones everyone wants an autograph from but, when you come into this building, we’re all equal. We all have a role and, without one, we don’t have a team. Without the kit guys or the bus drivers, without the security guards and canteen staff, there wouldn’t be a football club. It’s important for the players to let the new lads know what Manchester United is all about.”

Written by Fabiola Cejku


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