Nicky Butt

Butt hopes United's youth team embrace Old Trafford

Nicky Butt, Manchester United's head of first-team development, is hoping for a good-sized crowd at Old Trafford on Wednesday night, when Leeds United provide the opposition in the FA Youth Cup.

All tickets - which must be collected in advance from the ticket office at Old Trafford - are free and our visitors from West Yorkshire are believed to be bringing around 1,500 away supporters across the Pennines for the fifth-round tie, which kicks off at 19:00 GMT.

With the eagerly awaited encounter also being shown live on MUTV, Treble-winner Butt is looking for the club's Academy youngsters to embrace what promises to be a special occasion.

FA Youth Cup: Norwich 0 United 2Video

“There’s been great rivalry with Leeds in the past but it hasn't existed in recent years with the two teams [in different divisions],” Butt told us.

“Back in my era, and for most fans of my age, there’s a real rivalry so it’s a great game to have. And we’re massive on the FA Youth Cup as a club, as we have been for many years.

“We’re very good at developing players and not putting too much pressure on the Under-18s at league level. We let them develop and allow the coaches to use different techniques and different coaching directions.

“When it comes to the FA Youth Cup, it’s time to put the lads on the pitch to go and show what they’ve got, and show a winning mentality under the floodlights at Old Trafford, and live on MUTV. It is when we have to put pressure on them. I can’t always say don’t worry about results, it’s part of development, we have to win at this club.

“There are games where you want to put a bit of pressure on to win, as well as development. Wednesday in the Youth Cup is definitely one of those.

“When it comes to the FA Youth Cup, it's very much my belief and all the coaches' belief, when we speak to the players, that this is not a Saturday game against just another team. It's the FA Youth Cup against Leeds at Old Trafford, when the spotlight is going to be on you and you're answerable to the coaches and the manager if you don't perform.

“You have to go out and do it because, unless we know you've got that in your system, we can't just say 'it's development and results don't matter' all the time.

“As soon as I stepped into the building at 13 years of age, I knew the importance of the FA Youth Cup.” 

Video
Dillon Hoogewerf is congratulated against Lincoln.
Watch all our FA Youth Cup goals from the season so far.

With Leeds likely to be backed by a vocal following, it will be a test of character for the Reds, although there is the hope the home supporters will also turn out in good numbers to support the possible stars of tomorrow.

“We do think it's important for the young lads to get a crowd there,” explained Butt. “Especially as a big stadium like Old Trafford can get echoey if there are a few hundred in there. It's important for them to get a feel of the pitch and see what it's like playing there but, with fans in, it really does help.

“With the Premier League break currently on, we hope some fans do turn out for us. It's Leeds so there might be a bit more focus for our fans, if you like, but whether there are 1,000, 10,000 or 50,000 here, you have to go and perform. They must go and play, take on those players and beat them in front of 10,000 or 25,000. They've got to go and do it.”

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