Louis van Gaal stands during a Man Utd press conference
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Academy problems will cause long-term decline at Man Utd

| 15.01.2016

Manchester United has been held up as a club where young players can develop and challenge for first-team places ever since Sir Alex Ferguson took over in 1986.

Ferguson often talked about how important it was to develop the academy and it was one of the first things he focused on upon taking the United hot seat.

The Class of 92 were the products of this, with David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and the Nevilles proving you can win with kids as they dominated the Premier League in the nineties through to the early noughties.

However, this ethos appears to be completely eroded only two-and-a-half seasons after Ferguson retired and the final nail in the coffin comes with the potential departure of Derek Langley.

According to The Times, the Red Devils’ academy chief is looking to leave before the end of the season due to becoming disillusioned with the state of things at Carrington.

The days of youngsters forcing their way into the starting lineup are long gone, with the Red Devils preferring a flurry of big-money signings in the post-Ferguson era.

Louis van Gaal has given a few academy graduates opportunities this season, but of those only Jesse Lingard and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson didn’t spend time with another club before heading to United.

The Red Devils’ ability to bring in and mould talent from their surrounding region looks to have disappeared and there are a distinct lack of Mancunians in the squad, something which previously could never have been a criticism of Man Utd.

Moving towards short-term mercenaries rather than producing talent from within has seen the 13-time Premier League winners lose their imperious reputation and things could be set to get even worse.

When Ferguson arrived he saw developing the academy as a solution to United’s near 20-year wait for a league title.

Disregarding the work undertaken by the Scottish manager will see them back in a situation that created such a drought, meaning there would be a case of history repeating.

Furthermore, throwing away money in a similar fashion to what they did with Radamel Falcao and Angel Di Maria is a risky financial move especially if Van Gaal fails to qualify for the Champions League.

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Dan Ross

After a brief stint as a commentator, Dan took his passion for football into writing and went on to gain an NCTJ in sports journalism. A lifelong Walsall fan, he's followed the Saddlers through the highs, getting to Wembley for the first time ever last season, and the lows, namely relegation to League Two in 2006.