Manchester United’s English Connection Pays Off

by Sam Wheatley

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Manchester United are on something of a roll this season. Having despatched ‘top’ sides Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea and scoring an astonishing fourteen goals against them in the process, the current incarnation of United looks absolutely irresistible. The remarkable thing is that on paper they look significantly weaker than in previous seasons.

That side that included Cristiano Ronaldo, Tevez, Rooney, Scholes, Ferdinand, Vidic and van der Sar a few seasons back looked like the very apex of the English game. Two of those players have since retired and two others have sought to ply their trade elsewhere, but this current side seems to function much better as a unit without the egos and their eccentricities. There is one factor that also defines this team, without wanting resorting to jingoistic rhetoric. You can guess what’s coming – the high quality of the young English players in Manchester United’s side is startling.

Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck are all making rapid progress, whilst the 26 year-old Ashley Young seems to have improved so much since his switch from Aston Villa that’s it a wonder the rest of the world weren’t all clamouring for his signature the minute it was intimated that his previous employers in the Midlands might sell. Wayne Rooney has also set the league alight this season with his form, and these players are set amongst the more senior Englishmen such Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick and Michael Owen.  Let us not also forget the roles of British players Ryan Giggs, Darren Fletcher and the young-ish Jonny Evans, who are all from the same football culture.

Communication is easier on the pitch, morale is high and of course moulding young players into archetypes of the more senior legends of the club is easier if no language barrier exists at the early stages of players’ careers. The way this Manchester United side plays comprises a fairly impregnable defence and a fluid, incisive attacking philosophy. Not only that, but they can also adapt tactically to all situations. The only blot on their copybook this season is the 1-1 draw with Benfica, but that seems of little consequence given the (predictable) ease of their Champions League qualifying group.

The fusion of evidently talented youngsters amongst senior legends is something overlooked by their rivals. Arsenal famously have no older players to offer guidance to the youngsters, Chelsea have few truly young players and Manchester City have too much cash in reserve to bother implementing any such system (although Vieira is currently at work creating a scouting network and developing the youth team set-up there). Ferguson has, effectively, created the perfect environment behind the scenes and it is paying dividends on the pitch. Whether or not this young side can maintain their excellent form is debatable, but at this stage I won’t be rushing off to the bookies to bet against it.

Follow me on Twitter @samuelefrumento

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  • Dexylongshot

    Too true, we discuss the game from last week and how the reds are looking in pole position as well as a whole heap other footy related bits in the latest dexysden podcast in association with my11, have a listen.

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