With news coming out that Manchester United’s young midfielder, Paul Pogba, is heading to Juventus it signals a significant blow to the Red Devils’ squad. Pogba was thought as a player that could give United an answer in midfield for when the legendary Paul Scholes finally retires. But the loss of Pogba, along with other members of the youth team, brings up questions about Manchester United’s squad stability for the future.
Over the last few seasons, the Manchester Youth Academy has produced several highly rated players. Ravel Morrison, Mathew James, Ezekiel Fryers, Joshua King, and Pogba were considered to be the next wave of stars that would continue the Manchester tradition. However, Morrison and James have been allowed to leave the club. There is speculation that Fryers will be allowed to leave and the recent news reports have Pogba as good as gone to Italy. To compound matters, United has lost many of these younger players on free transfers, meaning Manchester did not make a profit off of these players. The loss of these youngsters has open up a hole in the United squad with the likes of Park, Owen, and Berbatov expected to leave this summer and veterans Ryan Giggs and Scholes inching closer and closer to retirement. It appears that the Red Devils do not have sufficient players to step in and fill in those roster spots.
There is a ripple effect with the Youth Academy players leaving the club when Manchester United’s finances are taken into account. It is no secret that the Glazer family has taken the club into hundreds of millions worth of debt. Add to that the missed revenue of not advancing deep into the Champions League means that that United’s cash reserves appear to be lower at the moment. Sir Alex Ferguson and chief executive David Gill have been conservative in their spending during the last few transfer windows while rivals within the Premier League and around the continent have been wrangling in the top talent. The lack of depth and talent has been evident as Manchester United continues to search for an answer in the central midfield. This in turn played a part in United’s collapse over the final month of the season.
In some ways it should come as no surprise that the youngsters would choose to leave the club. Ferguson’s continued reliance on aged veterans like Giggs and Scholes shows that he had little faith in those playing in the Reserve squad. Even in this season’s Carling Cup competition, Ferguson was hesitant to give the younger players much time on the pitch. This had to be discouraging for young players trying to make a name for themselves. It is no surprise then that these players would look for a move away from Manchester in search of first team football, even that means going to a less prestigious club or league.
Even the biggest clubs in the world like Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid need their youth academies to supplement their rosters. There is cost certainty when a younger player can be included in the squad. Take Ezekiel Fryers for example. He may never develop into an elite defender, but could he be counted on to play in the League Cup and early rounds of the FA Cup or fill in for a series of matches during the season? Of course and his salary would be significantly less than Manchester would have to pay a more seasoned player.
Manchester United is in a unique position as they make the transition away from star veterans Giggs, Scholes, and Rio Ferdinand to the next set of players that will look to bring more glory to the club. Whether they do that by infusing academy players into the roster or by breaking the bank and bring in players with more experience remains to be seen.
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