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 Need for an Advanced Defensive Midfielder

If Jonathan Wilson’s bible of football, Inverting the Pyramid, taught me anything, it is that football tactics are a matter of action and reaction. A constantly changing and ever-evolving realm of innovation and countering. When one method of play appears to have taken over the world, defeating all that come before it, a coach will discover the tactic that nullifies the seemingly perfect system.

Since Jose Mourinho tore up the rulebook on the stereotypical English 4-4-2 by employing Claude Makelele as a defensive midfielder, sat in front of his centre backs, it seems that no team can be without one. Whilst other Premier League teams had defensive players in their midfield, none were as single-minded and as specialised as Makelele. His sole purpose in the team was to sit, break up attacks, and play simple passes to those in front of him. His inclusion in the team gave the more creative and attacking players the freedom they needed, and was the catalyst for the shift from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3.

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Why Rodgers Must Never Forget Crystanbul

If Liverpool are to reach anywhere near the standards they did last year, they need to use the memory of Crystanbul as motivation. In order for Brendan Rodgers and co to take the step from good to great, they must constantly remind themselves of a night in London they would rather forget.

In the hovel of a living room in which I spent many happy hours of my final year of university, there sat a handful of students, their eyes fixed on the television that was in front of them. I remember it quite clearly, it was the final day of the Premier League season and Manchester United were seconds away from winning their twentieth title. The final whistle had gone at the Stadium of Light, Phil Jones was already celebrating, and as a Liverpool fan, I was less than pleased with the days events.

Step up Sergio Aguero.

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Fergie’s Toxic Legacy

Like many people on Tuesday night, I couldn’t quite believe what I was witnessing. It was not just the defeat of Manchester United, but it was the total collapse of everything that they once represented.

Following the woeful performance by The Red Devils, which resulted in a 4-0 defeat to MK Dons, it is becoming more and more obvious what the problem is. It is a deep, inherent issue that runs through almost the entire Manchester United squad. The problem is quality.

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Coping In The Dugout – Part Three

And so we head in to extra time. Following on from part one and part two, we now turn our attention towards development, recruitment and a vital skill that all great managers possess. The 90-Minute Manager has provided me with the spine of these articles, and as ever, all quotes are from that publication unless otherwise stated.

STRUCTURE AND FOUNDATION
In order for any project to be successful, the groundwork has to be laid first. The foundations must be solid, and if they are not, success will either be extremely short lived or very difficult to achieve. If a club is solely reliant on a billionaire owner then what happens when that owner decides to leave, or the money dries up? The club goes into free fall. Look at Portsmouth languishing down the bottom of League Two. Just five seasons ago Portsmouth were playing against the Likes of AC Milan in European competitions. How times change.

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