Nicky Butt believes that Manchester United should be producing ‘one-club’ players if the Red Devils are to return to the top of English and European football.
The former United and England midfielder was appointed the new head of academy at Old Trafford on Tuesday, and in his first interview since taking on the role, outlined his plans for youth development at Carrington.
The 41-year-old, who played 387 games for United between 1992 and 2004, winning six Premier League titles, three FA Cups and a Champions League, wants to make a difference in his new role, and that includes producing top-class players capable of winning Europe’s premier club competition.
He said to MUTV:
You don’t just come here to play 10 games and move on to another club. We want them to be here for many years. We want another Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville or Paul Scholes, these one-club guys who play here for many years and contribute to the club.
That’s what our aim is. We’re very proud when they make their debuts, very proud when they have careers in the Championship and League One but, ultimately, the aim is to provide top-class players for Manchester United that can go on to win the Champions League.
We know it’s very, very hard to do that but it has got to be the ultimate goal and everyone knows that.
Butt also spoke of the importance of keeping young players grounded and ensuring that they were not given too much too young, just like when he came through the United academy as part of the Class of ’92, with an implied reference to Manchester City’s state of the art academy:
There’s a lot of stuff in the papers about how other clubs have got x, y and z. We don’t believe they should have that much at an early age.
We keep them grounded and humble with the right facilities for the team to play in but, as important as the good things, we’ve got to make it hard for them as well. A lot of lads get it too easy and, when it becomes hard, they don’t know how to deal with it. It’s our job to find the balance.
You’ve got to have a bit of the hard stuff as well, got to have a bit of a slog, play on bad surfaces, sometimes play against bad teams, bad crowds, with wind and rain-swept pitches. Football is not always about Old Trafford, the Nou Camp or the Bernabeu.