Mourinho talks about giving youth an opportunity that they must ‘grasp with both hands’


Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has given an indication following the Emirates FA Cup semi-final victory over Tottenham Hotspur that he will be giving chances to youth players. Looking ahead to the summer, with the club ready to embark on another big summer transfer window, the manager has spoken about the fact the club will be investing in the squad in order to improve it. It is suggested that the Portuguese manager is seeking fullbacks, a central defender and at least one central midfielder.

Michael Carrick will retire this summer, assuming a role as a coach at the club under Mourinho and Marouane Fellaini is expected to leave the Old Trafford club on the expiry of his current contract. That will leave two spaces available in the squad, which has led to assumptions that Mourinho will be bringing in two central midfielders – whether that means both will be purchased, remains to be seen. The manager, speaking after the Spurs victory and reported by the official Manchester United website, said:

“We are going to invest the basic to improve our squad. There is always in the group of players, in the squad, there is always a player or a couple of players who are not playing a lot, and they will obviously try to leave, so we are going again to touch [tweak] our squad and to believe that more than [a case of] spend, spend, spend, is probably the evolution of our players. We have some young players that need to get, with both hands, opportunities with their evolution, so let’s see.”

This season, after being given some chances at the end of last season, Scott McTominay found himself more involved this season, especially during a time that saw Paul Pogba, Fellaini and Ander Herrera on the sidelines through injury and Carrick out of the team due to a problem with his heart, which has now been rectified. McTominay played in the Premier League, Carabao Cup, UEFA Champions League and the Emirates FA Cup. Since Pogba, Herrera, and Fellaini returned to the team, McTominay has faced prolonged periods on the sidelines.

Mourinho has stated that he has a group of players who are not playing a lot and during the remainder of the season, they may all see some more action. United need seven points in the league to finish second in the Premier League, which will see the club finish the highest since Sir Alex Ferguson retired. The fact Mourinho sees the importance of a big squad, he has in the past spoken of the fact he can only play eleven players in each game. Rumours have suggested that both Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford could leave the club, which seems convenient for the media.

United do not have to keep buying players for every position. For 80 years, a total of 3,917 matches, at least one youth player has been involved in a matchday squad for the club. This is the longest record in the top-flight in England. Mourinho specifically states that the club has some young players who need to get and grasp opportunities with both hands, which will continue their development. Now that the Premier League 2 season is over, with United being relegated to Division Two of the youth league, the likes of Tahith Chong, Tosin Kehinde and other could come in.

It may seem that Mourinho, giving some of the players who have played a lot of football this season a rest, has an eye on the foundations of the club, something that has been suggested is not in his remit. Of course, you have the genius that is Pep Guardiola on the other side of Manchester, a manager who is an advocate of youth football, apparently, not actually giving the likes of Phil Foden a chance, despite winning the Premier League a week ago and not actually having anything else to win this season.

It would be a great chance to give youth a chance at the Etihad, something that may prove to be a good decision which will boost the first team with adequate players who have come out of their £200 million Academy, which boasts world-class facilities. City, though, have a ‘goals and points’ tally to supersede, something which they feel is much better to attain than developing youth and actually giving them chances in the first team, which would give this world-class Academy something to boast about too.

United have Angel Gomes, who made his first team debut last season, in reserve too. He has not played U23 football for the last month or so after suffering a head injury in a Premier League 2 match. If he becomes fit for the final part of the season he too could play at Old Trafford again – maybe a bit more than two minutes plus stoppage time at the end of the game too. The future seems bright right now for Manchester United. No matter what the media decides to churn with their agenda, the club continues to do what it is known to do, trust in youth.

This summer will see the return of players who have been on loan this season, either for the entire season, or the last half of it. Andreas Pereira and Timothy Fosu-Mensah are two of the players who have been gaining experience in the La Liga and the Premier League respectively, who could bolster the club next season. Axel Tuanzebe will return from Aston Villa, having had a chance to earn first team football, something which injury curtailed. These three names, and more, could be heard from during pre-season and into the 2018/19 season.

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