Neil Ryan: Having a first team manager who believes in youth development is vital for any academy

Photographs courtesy of Manchester United with prior written approval.

As a manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær has shown that he will give young players an opportunity with Shola Shoretire being the latest example. How important is it from your perspective to have a first team manager who believes in youth development?

First and foremost, it’s vital for the academy to have someone at the top who believes in youth and the development that is ongoing within the academy structure at the club.

It’s also vital that we produce players who are capable of stepping up because he’s shown that he will give those younger players a chance when they are ready.

Its fantastic to work with the manager because he genuinely keeps a close eye on the youth set up at the club. Similarly, Kieran McKenna and Michael Carrick are vital because both of them have a strong interest in the youth system and experience of coaching within it.

Everytime I speak with the first team coaching staff, I get a great feeling because we are all on the same page which is to develop the very best players possible for Manchester United. Of course, the boys have to have the sufficient technical and physical attributes too as they won’t be put into the first team as a favour to the academy. They have to be ready and that’s what we work on with them.

Nicky Butt is also crucial as a buffer between the academy and the first team. Neil Wood and I work very closely with Nicky and the first team coaches as a tight knit group to ensure that we all have the same end goal which is to produce Manchester United players.

We haven’t been on site together over the last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the protocols that followed but we still connect and work together virtually to ensure that our communication process is the best that it can be and the manager regular keeps in touch with Neil Wood and I to discuss our performances and the young players that we have coming through.

Published by Callum McFadden

Football CFB founder. Freelance football writer & broadcaster of over 350 interviews with professional players and managers across all levels of football.

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