A Generation Lost: Manchester United’s Failed Youth Policy

Sir Alex Ferguson was a firm believer in youth and investing in academy talent. His all-conquering Manchester United team of the 1990s was based on this, but towards the end of his reign, his focus seemed to change and he let players slip through the net.

Paul Pogba has been the most high-profile example of this, but United’s recent pursuits of their academy graduate and Burnley centre-back Michael Keane, show that he was not the only one.

With Pogba back at Old Trafford, Keane supposedly being courted too, and with Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford breaking into the first team, have United now learnt their lesson? And if so, at what cost?

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The 11th Man

There is much talk in football about the 12th man. Whether that is the fans singing their hearts out on the Kop, the referee who appears to be giving everything to the opposition, or a rogue beach ball that has bounced on to the pitch and has yet to be removed. It is said, this 12th man gives you the advantage, but it is a strange term to use when the teams are not even utilising the 11 that they have on the pitch.

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Busquets to Lahm, the Evolution Continues

Like a visiting goalkeeper at Anfield, shots were raining down on me from all sides. Apparently my analysis “lacked direction”, I did not see the impact Sergio Busquets had, and it was even questioned whether I had ever seen him play. I like to promote discussion with my articles, but it seems on this topic, I hit a nerve with a few people.

Within hours of writing my last article I was inundated with Tweets from avid Busquets supporters. Some of the responses proving to be very insightful and informative, with one commentator writing a particularly detailed and lengthy piece to show me the error of my ways.

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The Evolution of the Defensive Midfielder

In my last article I wrote about how Steven Gerrard’s new role may become more common in the coming seasons. It is my belief that Brendan Rodgers always intended to drop Gerrard back, and that this decision was accelerated when Lucas picked up an injury in January of this year.

Gerrard’s deeper role does not offer the same defensive cover as when Lucas plays there, but what it lacks in defence it makes up for in attack. Whilst Lucas’ defensive positioning and interceptions are a little better than Gerrard’s, Lucas’ attacking threat is far worse.

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Football As A Religion

I have often noticed the commonality between religion and football, and I have not been alone in doing this. Peter Evans, from the National Football Museum, once called football “the religion of the masses”, and it is not hard to see why.

My holy day is a Saturday, the service starts at 3pm, and I make sure I am in suitable attire for it. The gods of Rodgers, Gerrard and Suarez are worshipped, the hymns of Anfield Road and You’ll Never Walk Alone are sang, and I gather with my brothers as our icons attempt to create more legendary tales and stories.

Our football clubs are considered sacred to us. When we see somebody sporting one of their kits, we consider them a friend, when we contemplate a tattoo, our mind turns to our team, and when someone bad-mouths one of our teams players, we defend them to the hilt, despite having never even met them.

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