Academy Is Vital To Manchester United

Local youngsters will always be the heartbeat of the side at Old Trafford, according to the Scotsman...

Manchester United's academy director Brian McClair, himself a striker with the club during the early years of Alex Ferguson's reign as Old Trafford manager, has revealed that homegrown talent is still considered as vital to the club, despite the scouting net being cast wider than ever.

A premium is put on players from the Greater Mancehster area too, with the likes of Longsight's Danny Welbeck and Salford's Richard Eckersley being held up as examples of the way local youngsters are still nurtured by the Red Devils, despite the influx of global talent in recent years.

"It is nice to see that young players who have passed through the academy are good enough to play for Manchester United," McClair told The Manchester Evening News.

"It would be lovely to have 22 home-grown English players in the first team squad. But that is not going to happen. It is great to have a few get to the front door and then get in.

"The support wants to have local boys and that's what we try to do. There will never be a situation where all your academy players are imports and there are no locals because the way FIFA and UEFA are looking at the game.

"They are making sure you have so many home produced players. You have to have your locals and home produced. That's how it should be.

"I couldn't see Manchester United surviving without the academy anyway because that has been a part of the fabric of the club. That is part of the enjoyment of the success of the club.

"I couldn't see a squad of 22 players all from external transfers and I couldn't see people being happy with that either.

"I don't think it is harder for the Manchester boys. But the fact is there are not as many local boys playing football anymore as there were 20 years ago. It is about numbers.

"Why are there so many Brazilians playing all over the world? A lot are still playing football because if you ask the majority of them, and the Argentineans, they are coming from the favelas, the poor areas, so football is their only way out."

There is one man who can be thanked for the maintenance of the club's youth policy, according to McClair, and that is his fellow Scotsman who manages the club.

"We are blessed here for various reasons but one huge plus is that we have the top man in Sir Alex Ferguson who has invested time and interest in youth development," he continued.

"It has helped the club flourish. We appreciate what we have. The club have also invested in the infrastructure. The facilities are a massive benefit to us. The club continue to look to invest in it. You can always get better in things."

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