Friday, February 17, 2006

How Karl's Kids are maintaining United's faith in youth

How Karl's Kids are maintaining United's faith in youth

Tony Howard finds FC United blooding the first of the their very own blooming generation of talented youngsters

Friday February 17, 2006

Youngsters have been the cornerstone of Manchester United's history since the club's inception, and FC United are promising to continue the proud tradition with the introduction of youth and reserve teams next season.

United have always placed utmost importance on youth and the paying public have taken generation upon generation of talented young footballers to their hearts.

Manchester was distraught when several of the most famous youngsters in football history perished at Munich 48 years ago this month. They mourned the lost 'Busby Babes' as if they were members of their own family. And from February 6 1958 onwards, the red side of Manchester has been permanently enamoured to young players their club has brought through the ranks. Red Mancunians hold the United youngsters in higher regard than they could ever hold a multi-million pound signing.

That was one of the reasons for George Best's immediate popularity at Old Trafford. It also made United's 1996 double-winning efforts even more sweet that the team was made up largely of 'kids'. The same household names that were dismissed by Alan Hansen after they were beaten by Aston Villa on the first day of the season. How we laughed as David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and the rest paraded around Wembley with the FA Cup the following May.

The faith in youth has also lead to many false dawns. Who can forget how giddy we all got with the original 'Fergie's Fledglings' as they battled to a 2-2 draw in an amazing FA Cup replay against QPR at Loftus Road in January 1989? Unfortunately on this occasion, Deniol Graham, Tony Gill, Russell Beardsmore and Lee Martin never became big names outside of United-supporting households.

So in the week that Manchester remembered the death of the flowers of youth that were Sir Matt Busby's starlets, FC blooded the first of their own blooming generation who will hopefully help the club climb the football pyramid over the next few years.

The setting was Glossop North End in Derbyshire, and although it was technically a friendly, around 1,000 hardy souls made the trip and enjoyed watching several teenagers, who may form next year's youth team, mixing it against a side from the division above - and beating them 2-1.

Thanks to manager Karl Marginson local lads like Mike O'Neill, Will Ahern, Warren Collier et al continued United's proud tradition of encouraging young footballing talent. Hopefully they too will go on to flourish as their fledgling club does likewise.