Click on the image for exclusive photos from the United Academy's tour of Loughborough University last week

16/10/2012 16:01, Report by Adam Marshall
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Pics: United at University

Academy manager Brian McClair has admitted he is still a fan of the youth system that was in place when he joined United as a player in the late Eighties.

The Scot also feels clubs can benefit from arranging their own football 'festivals' at training grounds to run alongside the new Barclays Under-18 Premier League fixture programme. Paul McGuinness' side are not in league action again until 10 November so there is the possibility of more matches being set up at Carrington.

“If you go back to the old games programme in the sense of pre-Academy, it worked very well,” McClair told ManUtd.com recently. “You had a ‘B’ team, an ‘A’ team and the Reserves all playing on a Saturday and the first team often played on a Saturday on the majority of occasions.

“All your players played. There was always the thought you were learning about what it’s like to be a football player in that you had 15-year-old kids who would play with the first-years we’ve got now, so the Under-17s and Under-16s, and play a lot with the ‘B’ team. Everybody got a game and, if you did really well in the ‘B’ team, you could get in the ‘A’ team.

“If you didn’t do so well in the ‘A’ team, you’d be back in the ‘B’ team and it was similar with the Reserves. So there was always that transition – when you’re doing well, the reward is to stay in that particular group. If you’re struggling or your performance is poor, you go back down to the level where you were.”

At least the fixtures should be more structured for Reserves boss Warren Joyce to contend with this term after having many games rearranged at short notice during the successful campaign in 2011/2012.

“The idea is trying to fix the Reserves’ games really because of the professional development,” added McClair. “Because a lot of players playing for the Under-18s could end up playing in the Under-21s and there’s two or three days’ difference in the games.

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