United plotting loan deals in January
Manchester United always carefully consider all options before deciding which players will be sent on loan and where they will further their footballing education.
Inevitably, a number of enquiries are fielded and this was certainly the case after Neil Wood's side produced an accomplished performance in the Leasing.com Trophy victory at Rotherham United in August, before the deadline closed.
It provided concrete evidence of the youngsters' ability to compete against League One opposition but the timing has to be right for all parties. Things can change very quickly in football, and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has shown he is keen to integrate Academy products into his senior squad, with local lad Brandon Williams the latest debutant.
A number of key individuals are involved in the important decisions, including new head of first-team development Nicky Butt and Head of Academy Nick Cox. Les Parry, of course, looks after the loanees in his role as Academy player performance manager, which means paying regular visits to the clubs, having numerous conversations with the relevant managers and coaching staff, and overseeing the analysis and development of the young Reds with a real personal touch.
The planning has already started for the January transfer window and there will be no shortage of interest in United's youngsters, who have started the campaign well. But all the pieces need to be in place before any deals are finalised in the start of 2020.
“There will be lots of hard work, as part of what Nicky Butt puts together as the plan for everybody,” Parry explained to us. “We’ll plan it out and we’ve identified four or five who might be going out in January. Obviously, our first-team manager has a say.
“Three lads could have possibly gone on loan – Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong and James Garner – but he wanted to keep them here and have a look at them on tour. So a decision will be made, no doubt, for January as well. Hopefully, all three will be in the first team and not going anywhere.
“As we know at this club, lads have got into the first team and a lot of it has been through circumstances they’ve got no control over. They’ve been presented with an opportunity and they’ve taken the opportunity so now a couple of them are regulars on the team sheet each week. We’ve had opportunities that have cropped up from nowhere. That’s football.
“Hopefully, some of the lads out on loan now will also catch the eye as some have gone out with a perception of their ability and where they’ll end up but hopefully they’ll come back and people will say maybe we’ve got a little diamond.”
The work in the last window proved a success with Parry, and the Academy, happy with the business concluded before the window closed.
“We're very pleased with the way it works,” said Parry. “Nicky Butt identifies, with me and Neil Wood, and the manager, which players he wants to go out and we got every lad we wanted out. We got them all clubs.
“There are opportunities that come along and you wonder whether to take them or not, or leave them for another week or so in the hope you can get something a little bit better suited. But it is constant work, especially when people know I’m doing the job, there are a lot of phone calls all the time, asking about certain players, obviously not only ones playing for the first team.
“We draw up a player’s needs before we start the process. I’m not kidding that we tick every box, because we can’t, but there have been a few clubs for one or two players, that we didn’t think were suitable. On the face of it, it might look a good move, but we didn’t think it was, for one reason or another, so we looked elsewhere.”
The job continues when the moves are sealed, with United keen to fill in the gaps in terms of the player care which some of the lower league clubs are unable to provide. It is all part of the service in making sure no stone is left unturned when it comes to ensuring the very best support for all the young Reds, as they continue to work hard to fulfil their ambitions.
“We look at the host club and if there are any areas of the development, where we’re not able to provide,” added Parry. “Analysis is a good one. Some clubs don’t have full-time analysts so they aren’t able to clip matches as well as we are. So we make sure that we send the clips to the lads but Axel Tuanzebe, last year at Villa, had a great analyst who sent clips to Axel.
“So there was no need for us to do that, although we did still like to add our comments as well, even if there was no real need. There are other things like the supplements as some clubs don’t provide them. So we make sure the lads get those and we plug any holes there might be at the host club. The more senior clubs, like with Timothy Fosu-Mensah at Fulham last year, they have everything there so his level of care was less than some of the other lads who were going to lower league clubs.”
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