The Under-18s kick off the 2008/09 Premier Academy League campaign against West Ham on Saturday, and coach Paul McGuinness says his players must show the dedication of Olympic athletes to make the grade at Old Trafford.
United have taken on seven new first-year Academy scholars, and McGuinness says they face a challenge adapting to life as a professional. The U18s coach likens it to the challenge that faced the world’s finest athletes in their preparations for the Beijing Olympic Games.
“We’re looking for these boys to now become professionals,” he says. “That means the right attitude towards training and everything they do. I’ve told the boys to look at the Olympics and see how dedicated the athletes are.
“Getting into our first team is like training to win a gold medal. Over the next few years the boys really have to concentrate on that goal. There’s a long way to go, but they’ve all shown great potential so far.”
The new recruits came flying out of the blocks in pre-season, winning the prestigious Milk Cup youth tournament in Northern Ireland. And in the final friendly match before the start of the new campaign, the Reds picked up a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Spurs on Saturday.
"We’re looking for these boys to now become professionals. I’ve told all the boys to look at the Olympics and see how dedicated the athletes are."
- U18s coach Paul McGuinness