EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS

"There are two elements to what we are trying to do - to produce players for Manchester United and to help them get a career in the game [if it's not here]."

- Brian McClair, Academy manager

Pictured: James Wilson celebrates scoring for United's U19s.

15/01/2014 15:47, Report by Adam Marshall
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McClair proud of record

but the player makes himself. Nobody can make a player – no doubt about it – but you’re able to give him the platform to get to those places.

What are your thoughts on the new Under-19 UEFA Youth League? 
It's fine. In terms of the age-group format, it’s something we could consider in England – to change to January birthdays [rather than have the age cut-off in the summer]. We currently have two distinct squads at United – Warren Joyce’s Under-21s and Paul McGuinness’s Under-18s - whereas some of the other clubs have a single group for the Under-19 Youth League that work together all the time. Our Youth League squad [coached by Nicky Butt] work together sometimes but not consistently day in and day out, and doing the same thing.

In the past you’ve advocated youth teams playing in festivals, with clubs competing at one training ground - is that something you'd still like to see?
There are all sort of discussions about what a youth team's programme of games should consist of. Does it necessarily have to be 11 versus 11 from September until the end of May? Nobody has really sat down for long enough and discussed what the needs of the player are. We need to have people who are like-minded and get them involved in the debate and discussion. We are always looking to see what the best thing is for football, and where Manchester United fits into that.

United play Leicester City away in the FA Youth Cup on Thursday, 16 January. The match will be shown live on MUTV with coverage starting at 18:30 GMT.

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