Manchester United’s Brilliant Youth Having a Negative Impact?


The emergence of a new era of Manchester United has been met and embraced by their new stars in a dream-like fashion, seeing the club off to a blistering start to their Premier League campaign.

Several thought the retirement of Paul Scholes, Edwin van der Sar and Gary Neville, combined with the lesser role of Ryan Giggs, would be the beginning of a decline in Manchester United’s unequalled English dominance over the past few decades.

How wrong we all were.

The emergence of youth players such as Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley combined with signings such as Phil Jones, Rafael, Fabio, Smalling, Anderson, Nani and Ashley Young have given the Red Devils a complete face lift and an identity that is something much different than is normally seen wearing the red of Manchester.

Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have played all over the back four this season and have done as good a job as their better known and much more experienced colleagues who were unavailable due to differing reasons. Both Anderson and Nani are beginning to turn into the players United hoped they would and Fabio and Rafael look to hold a lot of potential at the wing back positions. Cleverley was mightily impressive in his opening games and Welbeck has been nearly faultless in his performances.

However there were only 2 outfield retirements last season, and I have already referenced 9 young players who have made an impact for Manchester United this season.

See the problem?

No one has made a big deal of the fact Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra are seriously under fire to retain their positions. These are three of the top players in the world at their respective positions. Vidic is the captain of Manchester United.

Giggs too is getting much less minutes, which is expected given he is 72 years of age, but still won’t be satisfying for him. The mould that has grown on Michael Owen grows denser and denser each week and the 30 million pound walker that is Dimitar Berbatov cannot take minutes from a Sunderland loanee.

If I know anything about professional footballers it’s that every single one of them is a major prima donna and each have an overwhelming ego. Being a first team player for Manchester United would only heighten both.

Which brings me to the point I am trying to make. It is great for the future and, if they keep playing as they are, the present for Manchester United to have players of such a young age and little experience playing so well they are keeping real superstars of the game on the benches, and admittedly some of their opportunities have come through injury rather than form, the pressure is real and everyone is well aware that Ferguson will not be scared to start Phil Jones and Chris Smalling over Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

Evra’s recent comments about losing his place have an underlying feeling that sums up everything I am trying to say. You can see the nervousness and the uneasiness in what he is saying when discussing his role at the club. A man that has captained the side in the past, he now has to reassure himself that he can do everything they can do and better to justify his position in the squad.

"“I’m only 30 but I feel like the oldest player in the team. I just have to show the young players that I’m still here and I want to play every game.I need to prove I am still fit because they are young. Maybe they have more energy and think they can steal my place.Of course, though, you also have to help them and talk to them if anything is wrong. We are here to protect them and to show them that it’s easy to reach the top, but to stay there is the most difficult thing.But before we can say anything to the young players, we have to show our own example on the pitch because the competition is really fierce. The boss is not afraid to put the young lads in and it’s working well.”"

Given that this is not Chelsea that we are talking about and the players do not run the show in the United half of Manchester, yet Ferguson has had trouble juggling heavy egos in the past and may not have expected his youth to come on as fast as they have, giving him a really complicated task to balance the locker room.

Perhaps I am wrong and the veterans will be selfless team players and will relinquish their normal amount of games and minutes they experience over the course of the season to ensure the greater future success of the club.

How many of us really believe that though?