United legend Butt praises 'ultra-hard working' Chong
Completing the transition from exciting prospect to first-team regular is not easy, but Manchester United’s Head of Academy Nicky Butt suggests Tahith Chong is one of several young players at the club who have the required work ethic to achieve that ambition.
Last Sunday, Chong registered his fourth outing with a spirited cameo at Huddersfield Town in the penultimate Premier League game of the campaign. It is presumed that the Netherlands Under-21 international is now in the running to feature against Cardiff City at Old Trafford this weekend.
In an exclusive interview for the June edition of Inside United magazine, which focuses on the Academy, Butt provides an insight into Chong’s personality and how he can progress even further.
“He’s a very talented lad and has the right attitude about him,”explains club legend Nicky.
“He’s very humble and ultra-hard working, a good pro who knows himself he has got a long way to go be a regular at this club. But he has had a sniff of it and a taste of it.
“I remember when he signed a few years ago, speaking to his parents, looking them in the eyes and saying I genuinely believe there is a way into the first team for you.
“I can look in the parents’ eyes when I meet them, when the players are 14 or 16, and say it’s up to the boy. But we can say to them we’ll give them the best chance of making it with the great facilities, unbelievable coaches and, the most important thing, someone at the top in the manager, who will give chances. The club demands that, the board demands that and the fans demand that.
“Chongy took his chance and has done well, but he’s still got a long way to go.”
Nine Academy lads have played for the seniors this term in Chong, James Garner, Angel Gomes, Mason Greenwood, Jesse Lingard, Scott McTominay, Andreas Pereira, Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford.
Butt says he is proud to show it’s possible in modern football to grow your own talent.
“It gives us immense pride, to be honest,” explains Nicky.
“Certain individuals have done really well in getting into the first team and involving themselves in the games, in squads and in training.
“The ultimate goal is to get players into the United first team and we’ve had three debutants this season, which is difficult to do at the best of times. So, in that sense, it’s been a really good year for us. Some of the players have been here since the age of seven in the Foundation phases.
“Coaches all the way up from the Under-11s to the Under-14s have had a lot of influence on their careers so far, so it’s a proud time when they make their debut.”
Read the full and in-depth interview with Nicky Butt in the June 2019 edition of Inside United magazine, which is available to buy online and in stores now.