Manchester United's Youth Policy Coming to Fruition Once Again

Nick HowsonCorrespondent IApril 6, 2009

A hallmark of many successful sides under the management of Sir Alex Ferguson is the injection of talented youngsters with a mix of some of the Scot’s classic signings from overseas.

It’s been a constant theme of his title winning sides, and while the memory of the likes of David Beckham and Nicky Butt is starting wear thin, a new breed of youngsters are starting to make the grade in this current trophy chasing side.

Even if the level of ability from that famous 1992 Youth Cup winning side will probably never be matched, this new crop of players are starting to make there own mark on the first team this season, with their emergence in the side quicker than anyone at Old Trafford could have dreamed of.

In terms of players coming through the youth system, the transition of players had largely dried up for the current European Champions.

In recent years it’s been the likes of John O’Shea and Wes Brown who have broken through from the youth ranks as plenty of United fringe youth players venture off to pastures new.

This season however has seen more players given a chance from the youth ranks, and Ferguson begins yet another process of bringing through his gifted youngsters.

Jonny Evans has been one of the players of the season not only for United but in the Premiership, and is sure to be included in the shortlist for Young Football of the Year.

Evans only made his United debut in 2007, and less than two years later he is an ever present in a record breaking United defence.

The Northern Irishman’s impact in the side was capped off with a superb performance at the San Siro as the Champions drew with Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan.

He hasn’t been the only one however.

We’ve seen striker Danny Welbeck’s hard work in the Academy and Reserve sides rewarded this season with his first team debut against Middlesbrough, and a starting place in United’s successful Carling Cup side.

It’s been quiet a season for the England Under-21 International, who attracted the attention of Stuart Pearce in February as he made his debut against Ecuador.

Welbeck has been part of every England side right from the Under 16’s youth team, and is sure to be involved in the full squad in the coming years.

Darron Gibson has finally made his break into the United side having made his debut for the first team in 2005, but his patience in the reserves saw the midfielder start in United midfield for the Carling Cup final.

Danny Simpson had made a credible impact for the team last season, but was dispatched on loan to Blackburn Rovers, something probably down to the return to fitness of club captain Gary Neville.

As for the players that have been brought into the youth set up from abroad and then gone on to the first team, you needn’t look further that the Brazilian twins of Rafael and Fabio Da Silva.

The duo have really made there mark in the first team this season, especially Rafael who when fit is first choice right-back for the Old Trafford club.

His goal against Arsenal in a 2-1 United defeat showed the full-backs flair and attacking process, not unlike similar Brazilian full backs, while Fabio usually billed as a left back, is even more adventurous on the club and international stage.

Fabio captained and top scored for Brazil at the Under-17 World Cup in 2007 and followed up his numerous first team appearances with a hat trick for the reserve side against Rochdale this season.

The Brazilian pair are joined by fellow countryman Rodrigo Possebon, whose impact has been decreased in the second half of the season, but his calming influence on the ball is sure to result in further starts for the central midfielder.

And yesterday we saw the emergence of yet another United youngster, Federico Macheda as he made his first appearance for the club and capped it with a stoppage time winner for United in a 3-2 win over Aston Villa.

This goal is sure to increase the focus on Macheda, who going into the game was a relative unknown after scoring a hat trick for the reserves in mid-week.

But while the focus may well be shifted to the Italian alone, the entire youth set-up at United should be praised, and as critics rave over United’s strength in depth it’s down to that same set up for providing players who could be the difference for the club this season.

When any club is trying to chase the amount of trophies United are, the need of the back up of the reserves and youth squad is vital, and maybe this could be the difference between them and their envious rivals.