United top Academy Productivity Rankings

Tuesday 07 December 2021 11:00

Manchester United have, once again, been ranked at the top of Training Ground Guru's Academy Productivity Rankings.

Research, available in full here, focuses on the Academies attended by all England-eligible players who made at least one league appearance in the 2020/21 season.

With 69 Academy graduates featuring across English football last season, United and Arsenal lead the way in the rankings. By way of having more graduates at a higher level (in the highest two divisions), United are clear of our Premier League rivals at the summit.

This year's rankings are the third set produced by Training Ground GuruIn previous editions, in 2016/17 and 2017/18, United were also top.

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Josh Schneider-Weiler, who conducted the research, has explained more about the ranking methodology. "There are around 2,000 England-eligible players from the top five leagues in England," he said.

"We've taken all 2,000 of them and asked, 'which Academies did these guys go to up until the age of 18?'

"Within that, if a player, hypothetically, went to more than one Academy, the value for that player in the rankings is split equally to both teams. And then to make the rankings more nuanced, more credit is applied to producing players who featured at a higher level. So Premier League players are worth five points, Championship players four, League One players three, League Two players two and National League players one.

"To give you a real-life example, Dwight McNeil played at United's Academy but then went to Burnley, and featured in the Premier League. So for producing him, United get 2.5 points, and Burnley get 2.5 points."

The Academy's record for producing first-team players is well-known and respected worldwide. There are 12 Academy graduates in this year's Premier League squad (Dean Henderson, Tom Heaton, Matej Kovar, Teden Mengi, Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Hannibal, Shola Shoretire, Anthony Elanga, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood).

This research emphasises the success of the Academy away from just first-team player production, a point of pride for Head of Academy Nick Cox.

"At Manchester United, we have a long history of boys not only playing for our first team, but going on to play in other environments as well," he said, in conversation with Training Ground Guru.

James Garner is one Academy graduate, currently playing on loan at Nottingham Forest in the Championship.

"We are really proud of this, because playing professional football at any level is an amazing achievement. As Sir Matt Busby said, at Manchester United, we strive for perfection and, if we fail, we might just have to settle for excellence.

"Yes, we want all of our boys to play in Manchester United's first team, but that is not possible for everyone. What every player does leave here with is a lifelong relationship with the club. We instil a genuine love of the game in our boys that ensures their passion for football never fades.

"There is a fantastic support mechanisms for players when they depart too. We've got examples of boys who have won the Premier League and FA Cup with the other clubs. We're also very proud of the young people who have used their experience with us to prepare for other careers in football, be it as a coach or physio, or away from the game altogether."

Tom Cleverley came from the United Academy and is now at Watford in the Premier League.

Cox continued to explain that while the Academy is proud to be ranked top of these rankings, productivity is only one part of the Academy's mission.

"Producitivity is really important for our Academy as a world-leading youth development system," he said. "Like any school, we want to know that, at the end of the journey, there are some results. Debuts are the equivalent of our exam results.

"I would add that productivity is only one measure of success for an Academy. Yes, it's a central pillar of everything we do, but it's not our sole measure.

Others have left the club more recently, like Ro-Shaun Williams, playing regularly for Shrewsbury Town in League One.

"I would like to congratulate Josh and Training Ground Guru on the work they have done with this research and report, because it must have taken hours or dedication and research.

"We are certainly very proud of the work that goes on every day at Manchester United's Academy."