Nicky Butt

Loan plans for United's Academy prospects

Monday 31 December 2018 13:56

Manchester United's Head of Academy, Nicky Butt, expects some members of his Under-19 squad to depart on loan during the January transfer window, despite the promise of playing knockout games in the UEFA Youth League in March.

In an exclusive interview with, Butt explained why the bigger picture is more important than lifting silverware for his youngsters as their development, and hopeful elevation to the senior squad, is paramount.

The draw for the last 16 of the prestigious European tournament does not take place until 22 February, once the play-off round is completed, as the Reds look to progress further than ever before in the competition on the back of winning Group H ahead of Juventus, Young Boys and Valencia.

United celebrate a goal in the UEFA Youth League against Young Boys.

Butt said of the forthcoming loan market, "It will affect the Under-19s [as a team]. But if you ask any Manchester United fan or Ed [Woodward] or the owners or the manager, they want players in the first team. That’s my job. That’s the job of the Academy coaches – to get players in the first team. If you can win competitions as well, that’s the best thing you can do.

”Is it good to have some players just waiting for an Under-19s game to come along? No. So we are looking to get players out on loan to develop them so they come back better players and better people for our club, with a real chance on playing on the biggest stage in the world.”

Ensuring the right environment for the United teenagers to develop is an important concern for Butt and all the Academy stuff. With the step up to Premier League and Champions League football so huge, he understands the right plan needs to be in place for each individual player.

"Basically, it’s difficult,” Butt explained. “For some of the games we have, we don’t believe they are developing the players in the right away. Of course, you’ve got to play in the leagues – Under-18s and Under-23s – and do the right things by them.

”But if you want them to play for Manchester United in front of 75,000 fans on a Champions League night against Paris Saint-Germain, as we’re going to be doing soon, then if they're currently playing week in, week out in front of 1,000 fans with the Under-23s group, it’s not going to cut it, I’m afraid.

"So we have to find ways of making our lads ready for when they’re needed in the first team. I’m not saying the Under-23s doesn’t help – of course it does. But, every week, if they haven’t experienced the next thing, it can be one dimensional and so the Under-18s can’t be one dimensional either. In the Under-23s, they need to get out on loan or we’ll produce our own international fixtures.”
Under-19s captain Angel Gomes helped United overcome Juventus in the UEFA Youth League.

There will be changes in personnel in the three teams – the Under-23s, Under-19s and Under-18s - nce the plans take hold in the new year.

“We see January as a changeover of the guard if you like,” added Butt. “A lot more players will be pushing up to the Reserves and the youth team will be made up more regularly of first-year scholars.

"They will be starting more regularly in the youth team and players will be going out on loan. But, yeah, we plan – we don’t just pick it out of the air.

“We make plans for a year, 18 months or two years for players and we believe it’s the right way to do things.

"It’s not right to keep players behind to play in the Under-19s in March to win things. It isn’t right. We’d like to win the UEFA Youth League but it’ll be more beneficial for our players to go out on loan and maybe become men and stand on their own two feet, in order to come back to the club as better players and better people.”

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