Prior to his short-term loan to Tranmere, 19-year-old defender Scott Wootton sat down with us to discuss his fine start to the season, playing alongside seasoned internationals and his own controversial switch from Liverpool to United…
How did you come to leave Liverpool and join United?
I was an Under-16 at Liverpool and I felt the path through to the first team or even to the Reserves was blocked by the number of players that were being brought in from abroad, who weren’t necessarily better than the English players already there. Those players were being brought in by Rafa Benitez and they were being played ahead of the English players coming through. They offered me a scholarship but I turned it down. Luckily for me, United were interested. They took me on a week’s trial and once I knew they were interested I didn’t want to look anywhere else. I’ve never looked back since.
Is it true that Liverpool fielded you as a 14-year-old in an under-18s tournament?
Yeah. When I was playing for the Under-15s, I went to a tournament in America with the under-18s who had won the FA Youth Cup twice in a row. Steve Heighway took me along. I was only 14 and he told me that the club had only done that with two players before, Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard, so I felt very privileged.
How different are the youth set-ups at United and Liverpool?
In terms of the football that both clubs try to play, it’s similar. The youth set-ups are quite different, though. Here you have the Under-9s to Under-14s training in the evening; the youth team, the Reserves and the first team all train together. At Liverpool there were two completely separate buildings. When I was there Melwood was just for the first team and Reserves, while the Academy was just for the Under-18s.
When you go full time in the Liverpool Academy you don’t get to see the first team or Reserves, which is different to how it is here. I think it’s much better here that you’re surrounded by players who you aspire to be like. You see them around the building, watch them training and it motivates you. Plus you feel more of a part of the club here. You’re around the players, the coaching staff, the ground staff, everyone.
How do you think you’ve developed since coming to United?
I think I’ve developed well since I came here as an Under-16. I’ve got bigger and stronger, although I still need to work on that. I’m quicker, but that’s still a weak point and I need to