Nicky Butt has revealed that Manchester United’s academy are slowly but surely getting back on track.
United have been renowned for producing some of the best players in the world from their academy. However, over the last couple of years, the quality of players being produced has been at an all time low.
This has been put down to the lack of investment in the lower age groups. United’s Under-21s’ may have stormed to a title triumph last season, but the worries remain about the quality of development from the Under-18’s and below, and the club’s failure to stay up to date with the latest technology and facilities.
On the other hand, neighbours Manchester City have been pumping funds into the development of their academy and the gap in quality is evident. In January this year, United’s Under-18’s were a massive 30 points behind City in the U18 Premier League.
The club’s academy was being treated as a mere afterthought. However, they finally realised their failures, and the club began planning for a massive revamp.
“We are getting there with the revamp. Slowly but surely,” 41-year-old Butt told M.E.N Sport. “We have a lot of new people now in new roles. That will take time to bed in.
“Around the Aon Complex itself we are generating new pitches, better facilities. We are going in the right direction but it takes time to do such a massive job.
“It is not a sea change because the academy at Man United has done the right thing by players here for a long, long time and we have always got players into the first team and been equally successful getting players careers at other clubs.
“It is not a massive big change of direction but it was a case of steadying the ship. We had just veered off course a little bit but we are pointing back in the right direction.”
Butt also revealed how scouts and coaches have to be on their toes at all times so that they don’t miss out on players who could potentially be the next Ronaldo or the next Marcus Rashford.
“Recruitment of players is a massive juggernaut on its own,” added Butt.
“We were not missing out on countries but in years gone by you maybe had one scout in each country, or two, but the way it is with young players now as soon as a kid does well there are about five or six clubs on him straight away.
“You just need to get yourself in the right position if the new Ronaldo, or the new Marcus Rashford comes along. He could be in Longsight or Buenos Aires or anywhere in the world. You just have to be there ready.
“If you have people around the world who can spot them and find them then you are in the right position. All our worldwide scouts come to Carrington twice a year and it is a big operation.
“I don’t think we have ever rested on our laurels. If you don’t move on and you stand still then you die. We are kicking on.”