Over the course of the dog days of summer when we are forced to forsake discussion of football matches for unending hypotheticals, Sir Alex Ferguson’s push for the inclusion of younger talent has been one of the more overlooked talking points of the offseason. And as we look forward to United’s first match of the season in just a matter of days, the youthful core of this edition of our beloved football club could be the driving force behind another successful Premier League campaign.
United’s thunderous performance in the capital last weekend provided plenty of positives heading into the new season, the most promising of which have much to do with the team’s young core. Over the past few seasons United has been referred to as a squad overly dependent upon older players when if one looked beyond the obvious veterans Edwin van der Sar, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, etc. the team was actually quite young.
Each of the past few transfer windows Sir Alex has sought to bring in younger players to the club to augment the talent coming through the team’s academy. While there have been a few misses (Gabriel Obertan and Bebe) there have been a few more hits. Signings like Javier Hernandez, Luis Nani, Anderson, Chris Smalling, Wayne Rooney etc. have all proven to be masterstrokes.
While the other big clubs in the Premier League have spent more time and money bringing in established players from the continent and England, Manchester United have spent less money bringing in younger players that have in turn helped the club become a sustainable fount of success over the past twenty years. Such sustainability goes a long way towards explaining United’s dominance of the Premier League era (12 times champions in 19 seasons) as well as the club’s undoubted ascendency to becoming the world’s biggest club.
Given this preference for youth, it should come as no surprise that the maturation of United’s youngsters will be key towards bringing home a 20th league trophy come the middle of May. Excepting established veterans like Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher, Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young, the rest of the United squad remains quite young and inexperienced. Below is a United XI composed only of players 25 years of age and younger.
David de Gea
Rafael — Chris Smalling — Phil Jones — Fabio
Luis Nani — Tom Cleverley — Anderson — Danny Welbeck
Wayne Rooney (C) — Javier Hernandez
Excepting United’s toughest potential opponents this season, how uncomfortable would you honestly be with this eleven? I would argue that this set of players possesses enough talent to defeat 16 of 19 sides in the Premier League, and around half of the teams that will take part in the Champions League this term. Rooney’s hairplug surgery ought to disqualify him from this eleven, but he is still only 25 years old, with his best football ahead of him. If that does not scare our rivals, I do not know what will.
Call it Glazernomics, or however you like, but if our club’s success in the present era (four premier leagues out of five) is to continue in the future, such success hinges on the club’s ability to remain young at heart. If the aforementioned players continue to develop, along with the trio of Paul Pogba, Ryan Tunnicliffe and Ravel Morrison, United fans may continue to expect domestic dominance.
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