This season sees the introduction of a new Premier League rule requiring clubs to name a squad of 25 players from which they can select their teams. And it’s the make-up of the squad that is tricky because there are restrictions designed to encourage clubs to recruit and develop their own players rather than pack their teams with older transfer buys from abroad.
They key requirement is that each squad must include at least eight home-grown players who have been affiliated to the FA for three full seasons before the age of 21. For Manchester United it’s not a problem, at least for this season, because we have the likes of Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Darren Fletcher, Wes Brown, Michael Owen, Rio Ferdinand, John O’Shea, Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney. So this means there is no problem with our senior foreign players like Edwin van der Sar, Tomasz Kuszczak, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Antonio Valencia, Nani, Anderson, Dimitar Berbatov, Ji-sung Park and Javier Hernandez.
There is no limit on the number of players under the age of 21 so no complications there for our up-and-coming youngsters such as the da Silva brothers, Tom Cleverley, Bebe and Chris Smalling etc. I have plenty of room to manoeuvre with only one issue really - whether I can afford to allot one of the 25 places to Owen Hargreaves as he continues to battle for full fitness. Once the squad is named
"It’s easy for me to retain my enthusiasm because I am directly involved with the engine of the club, the players, which is where the buzz is, but it takes many more to make the whole thing tick and come together and we are very fortunate to have so many hard-working and loyal people around."
- Sir Alex Ferguson, United Review, Saturday 28 August 2010
The manager writes an exclusive and candid column for every edition of United Review. The official matchday programme is sold at Old Trafford and is also available by subscription at manutd.com/programme.