Van Gaal and Mourinho never abandoned Academy
Treble-winning hero Nicky Butt has claimed that Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho received unfair criticism for their treatment of Manchester United's famed Academy.
The 45-year-old, who is now the club's head of first-team development, admitted that certain cultural changes have been made since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Mike Phelan returned to Old Trafford in December 2018.
However, the former midfielder was also keen to stress that the managers who led the club during the years following Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement never disregarded United's intense focus on producing homegrown players for the senior squad, describing the notion that they did as a "myth".
MUTV Group Chat: Butt's Academy update Video
MUTV Group Chat: Butt's Academy update
Nicky Butt drops by to discuss the Academy, social media and how Ole is emphasising United's culture off the pitch...
"I think it’s harsh on van Gaal and Mourinho, and David Moyes to a point, because they didn’t come into Man United and go this is it, move it all to one side, disrespect Man United and we’ll do it this way," said Butt, while taking part in the latest MUTV Group Chat.
“They didn’t. They never did – it’s a myth that they did.
“Mourinho was brilliant with me. He spoke to me every single day at breakfast and asked about the kids. He did a few meetings with the kids when they were going to Portugal [in the UEFA Youth League] and telling them what to expect and so on. So there’s a bit of unfair press on those managers, I feel.”
While the Gorton-born member of the famed 'Class of '92' has spent much of his life at United, he is sympathetic to managers who arrive at a new club and feel they must do things in their own way.
"If me and you and Ben [Thornley] and Maysie [David May] said 'Let’s go and work at Real Madrid', you’re not going to know anybody," he continued.
“There’s that many people that stab you in the back in football as you all know. If you’re going into an environment you don’t know, you’re not going to open the door to every Tom, Dick and Harry, because you don’t know who these people are, you don’t know where they’re going. So you can understand both sides of the story.
“Obviously, I prefer the way it is now, I preferred the way it was when we were there [as players], but that’s because we knew everybody. You trusted the canteen staff, you trusted the cleaning staff, because you knew them when you were 16, so we can look at it in a bubble and go 'all these managers come in here and it’s shocking' but I don’t think it is, because you’ve got to put yourself in their position, and if you went out to a club you didn’t know, it’ll be totally different.”
Butt credits Solskjaer for re-establishing certain elements of the club's culture.
But although the former Red was keen to defend the former managers, Butt admits Solskjaer and Phelan have brought a "comfort" that enables key principles to be emphasised across the whole club.
"One thing about Ole and Mike coming into a group with Kieran [McKenna] and Michael [Carrick], they've known the club inside out for many, many years," he explained. "I remember the day Ole walked in!"
“So they know it better than anybody and what they’ve brought in is a bit of 'let’s get back to normality'. Let’s get back to what we fundamentally think is right as a club. Forget the football side – just as a club. The whole canteen is re-opened again, we’re all eating together again, all the kids are into the pool and the gym together and so on. But you flip the coin and you can understand why some managers close the canteen to themselves; I can understand why they closed the gym to themselves.
Is this how to conclude the FA Youth Cup?Article
United's youngsters are in the semi-finals and, in a Q&A, Nicky Butt explains his idea for completing the competition.
"What Ole and Mike bring now is the comfort that we can be ourselves and we can be open around the building and we can be engaging with every single person in the building.
“And, on the football pitch, they want to get back to winning ways in the right style, which is attacking, fast-flowing, introducing young Academy players into the team and get back to winning ways.”
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