Football: United still have faith in youth - Giggs

Ryan Giggs reassured Manchester United fans on Wednesday, Sept 10, 2014, that the club's commitment to youth development remains intact. -- PHOTO: AFP
Ryan Giggs reassured Manchester United fans on Wednesday, Sept 10, 2014, that the club's commitment to youth development remains intact. -- PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - Ryan Giggs reassured Manchester United fans on Wednesday, Sept 10, 2014, that the club's commitment to youth development remains intact.

New United manager Louis van Gaal's recent spending-spree of more than 150 million pounds (S$306.3 million) in the transfer window - culminating in the British record capture of Angel di Maria for 59.7 million pounds, followed by the sale of Academy graduate Danny Welbeck, the England forward, to Arsenal - suggested a change of priorities.

United have fielded at least one homegrown player in every matchday squad since 1937 but that record may be threatened under Dutch boss van Gaal.

However, Giggs, one of the greatest players ever to emerge from a United youth system that became famous under then-manager Matt Busby in the 1950s before being revived by Alex Ferguson, the boss who oversaw the celebrated Wales star's career in the 1980s and 1990s, said the commitment to homegrown talent was woven into the fabric of Old Trafford.

"The club will never change," Giggs, now assistant to van Gaal, told the Soccerex conference in Manchester on Wednesday.

"The history of the club is to play exciting football, always give youngsters a chance, keep to the traditions of the club," he added.

"Okay Danny has left, which is obviously disappointing because you never want to see a homegrown player leave, but this is a manager (van Gaal) who gave (Clarence) Seedorf his chance, (Patrick) Kluivert his chance, (Andres) Iniesta his chance, Xavi, Thomas Muller - he has got a track record of giving youngsters a chance.

"Tyler Blackett has played every game this season. Underneath (Robin) Van Persie and (Wayne) Rooney you have got (Adnan) Januzaj, James Wilson.

"Players will leave but we have got to make sure young players come through because United fans demand it. I want to see young players come through.

"That has been (the case) right through the history of Manchester United and we never want to lose that."

But with the club having finished a lowly seventh in the Premier League last season and so failed to qualify for Europe, a performance that led to the sacking of the retired Ferguson's handpicked successor David Moyes and his replacement by van Gaal, former United midfielder Nicky Butt said a fresh influx of talent was inevitable.

"I think all clubs are changing," Butt said. "I think Man Utd was probably one of the last outstanding ones that had the connection between youth and the first team - to be fair to Liverpool now they are doing that very well - but we are still trying to do that.

"The Danny thing is just something that has come at a certain time in the club's history.

"Danny wasn't playing in the position he wanted to play in, the club now only has so many games, we're not in Europe," Butt added.

"I think it is a case of being fair to the player and fair to the club, with someone with Danny's ability who has international credentials and wants his England place.

"It is not a case of giving up on youngsters, giving up on the Academy.

"It is a case of getting the club back to where it needs to be. That is the first priority, to get back to winning ways."