Manchester United’s Head of Youth academy Nick Cox has offered a unique and in-depth insight into how a club known for it’s youth development go about integrating and transitioning young players to the first-team.
One of the club’s proudest traditions is the reputation for having one of the most influential and productive youth set-ups in world football.
There is nothing the United faithful enjoy more than seeing a home-grown prospect fight their way through the academy ranks to eventually step out onto the famous Old Trafford turf as a fully fledged first-team regular.
Youth development is an element of the game which is simply embedded in this wonderful club and is one tradition the club refuse to let go of.
During a season which has seen the United academy at it’s most effective after the incredible rises of the likes of Mason Greenwood, Scott McTominay and Brandon Williams, it is important to remember the journey to the first-team is a long-one and the work of the academy’s staff cannot be underestimated.
In an exclusive interview, Stretty News asked Cox to shed some light on how the inner workings of the club’s youth academy are designed to assist players on becoming capable of featuring for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first-team.
“We have a playing style that is adopted across the academy but it changes slightly as you get closer to the first team,” Cox said.
“For our younger players it’s a combination of the qualities that historically Manchester United likes to see in it’s teams, so attacking, creative, playing to win and unbelievably competitive. They’re all the qualities that you associate with Manchester United.
“It’s important that we educate our boys about how to preserve the culture of a Manchester United team.
“But also we’re encouraging our players, we’re trying to maximise their development, so we’re trying to adopt a playing style which that will enable that.
“We’re trying to put an emphasis on technique […] and we’re really trying to create a way of playing that will prepare them for the very highest level, to be able to go and play Champions League football.”
Addressing the importance of allowing individuals to flourish at such a young age, Cox added: “At all times our playing style is about development. It’s about maximising the potential of individuals and helping individuals reach their full potential.
“We don’t get too bogged down with team performance, the team is just a vehicle that supports the individuals to be the best players they can possibly be.”