Since the departure of Ser Alex Ferguson, Manchester United have seemingly changed their club’s philosophy to the core.
Once a club that prides itself on promoting youth and building the team on passion and drive only a home-grown player can have, Manchester United opted to invest a great amount of money in buying the finished product.
Red Devils decided to go with the flow and to accommodate needs and requirements of modern-day game which involves instant success.
The club’s hierarchy opted to grant every wish Louis van Gaal had upon his arrival to Old Trafford, generating the total spend of £235 million on incoming transfer over the last two years.
On the other hand, Dutchman decided to let go of some of the key players, who were deemed surplus to requirements, most notably Robin van Persie, Angel Di Maria and Javier Hernandez. At the same time, the club brought a number of players with Anthony Martial’s deadline day acquisition being the most prominent one.
Change of course
Instead of nurturing their own talent, which was the usual practise in the past, Manchester United decided to splash significant amount of money to bring a 20-year-old, relatively unknown up until his transfer to the Premier League.
Martial did well to prove his potential and quality which cannot be said for another high-profile addition of Memphis Depay.
Talented Dutchman did not fit the pattern of a tailor-made, top class quality ready to challenge to Europe’s top leagues and his transfer has been the best confirmation of a significantly changed club’s policy that left Manchester United academy’s prospects in the dark.
Hit by injuries to his key players, Van Gaal was forced to turn his attention towards United’s young guns which ultimately proved to be perhaps the only bright spot in other than that bleak season for Manchester United.
The crop of United’s youngsters shone whenever given the chance to shine.
Grabbing the first-team opportunity with both hands, Marcus Rashoford has been the perfect example. Passion in his eyes upon scoring the goal against city rivals Manchester City has prompted a reaction from David Beckham himself, and it was exactly that passion that Manchester United haven’t had in their team for a while.
Marcus Rashord’s exhilarating form has restored faith in football during these modern and corporate times and it has also earned the young striker with a call-up for the England U20 squad for the game against Canada.
Another one of United’s top talents that have emerged under Van Gaal is Cameron Borthwick-Jackson who is back in training following his injury. Commanding displays breathing with maturity have earned the 19-year-old defender a place in England’s U19 squad.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah is another one of United’s youth products that has impressed over the last couple of weeks.
Powerful youngster, versatile in nature with plenty of speed and athleticism to boast with, Fosu-Mensah was initially a centre-back, who was later on reinstated in the midfielder.
The 18-year-old starlet joined United from Ajax in 2014, but his rise to prominence is down to fast-tracked improvement in United’s youth set-up over the last twelve months.
As the season unfolds and Manchester United get closer to the finish line, the pressure grows on Van Gaal to make choices that will help his team achieve book the place for UEFA Champions League.
Question remains, though, what will happen with talented youngsters?
The total of 90% of Manchester United’s youth players move on, never getting the chance to shine in the first-team.
Paul Pogba is the perfect example of a world-class potential who United let slip through their hands and one could argue that Red Devils have learned their lesson and that same mistakes will not be made with Rashford, Borthwick-Jackson and Fosu-Mensah.
Praised for his methodology that allows young players more opportunity in the first-team, Van Gaal was the one credited for the rise of many international stars, such as Bayern Munich’s Thomas Muller.
However, Manchester United boss doesn’t field the youth players when most of his squad players are fit. And with his impending departure at the end of the season and Jose Mourinho’s likely arrival, things are does not look bright for United’s starlets.
The Portuguese is even more radical with his small-squad approach that was at display at Chelsea and a number of young players that never got the chance to shine under Mourinho makes a long list with Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku being the two most obvious examples.
So what will the future hold for Manchester United starlets?
Will they be able to make it into the first-team for the next season?