If everything the media wrote was true, then Arsenal would be the greatest football side to ever grace the planet and Manchester United would falter with their “old” squad every season.
This, however, is the media’s most common misconception, and one that Arsenal fans quote quite often. After growing sick of hearing that Arsenal are a team full of youth compared to the United old guard, it’s necessary to look at the facts.
United have forever been known for their excellent youth academy. Older fans witnessed this phenomenon in the 50’s and 60’s with the Busby Babes, and more recently we’ve witnessed the brilliant class of 1992. Since Beckham became a pop star, Phil Neville stumbled over to Goodison Park, and Nicky Butt left Old Trafford to find first team football, many people started to believe that the United youth academy had dried up.
Is this true, though? Is United going to have to continue buying big in order to keep the pace? The answer is a definitive “no,” as much as the media would like you to believe otherwise. Like the Arsenal “youth” system, United are doing an incredible job of buying talented teenagers from around the world for very cheap and nurturing them to stardom. All too often people overlook the fact that Cristiano Ronaldo wasn’t even a quarter of what he is today when United bought him in 2003. The club’s staff looked after him closely and have developed him into the world’s greatest player. The same process is going on with Nani and Anderson right now before our eyes.
The point of this piece, however, is not to talk about what can already been seen on the pitch. Instead, let’s focus on United’s future: is the future even brighter than the past or are we witnessing the last wave of success?
This season should give the world a glimpse into United’s very bright future plan – we are within a year of seeing the next great batch of youngsters. Rafael, Fabio, Fraizer Campbell, Possebon, Jonny Evans, and friends: welcome to the big time. Fergie’s final batch of youngsters have proven themselves in this preseason and will surely figure into the first team’s plans this year.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with these players, you soon will be. Rafael and Fabio are identical twins from Brazil who play right back and left back respectively. Rafael has already secured the adulation of many of United fans after great performances against Peterborough and Juventus. Fabio, who hasn’t gotten as good of a chance as his brother yet, is apparently the more talented of the duo. Fabio captained the Brazilian Under 17 team in Korea last year.
Meanwhile, Fraizer Campbell is a talented striker who has been plying his trade on loan spells for Antwerp and Hull. After joining Hull in October last season, Campbell finished the year as the club’s leading scorer. This prompted the Hull chairman to declare Campbell as “too good for the Championship.”
Possebon is yet another Brazilian at Old Trafford. The young central midfielder has a wide range of passing similar to Paul Scholes and is also capable of shooting from distance. Possebon has been heavily tipped a future star in United’s midfield.
Jonny Evans is the reason why Fergie was confident enough to let Pique return to Barcelona. The defender has proven himself on the international stage for Northern Ireland against the likes of Spain, and Sunderland fans were lucky enough to watch him help the club to promotion in 06/07 and then again in their fight for Premier League survival in 07/08.
These particular youngsters are just a sampling of what is going on behind closed doors at Carrington. There is no doubt about it that United always have something brewing in their youth system, and football fans around the world should be looking for these youngsters in the coming season.
Besides, United’s current batch of stars are mere youngsters. Wayne Rooney is only 22, Cristiano Ronaldo is 23, Carlos Tevez is 24, Anderson is 20, Nani is 21, and goalkeeper Ben Foster is only 25 (extremely young for keepers).
The future is only bright for United.
Brian Lofrumento writes at Premiership Talk.