'Winning is what sets players apart'
Former Manchester United Reserves boss Warren Joyce has explained his philosophy when it comes to coaching and developing young footballers.
In an exclusive interview with club media ahead of his return to Old Trafford as manager of Nottingham Forest's youth team last Wednesday, Joyce outlined his thoughts on what it takes to make it in the game.
During a successful spell with United's second string, he worked with a number of players who have enjoyed successful careers at various levels, including the likes of current first-teamer Scott McTominay, and is clearly doing a marvellous job at Forest.
With Travis Binnion's young Reds emerging victorious in the FA Youth Cup final with a 3-1 triumph, Joyce had explained before kick-off that cultivating the winning mentality is vital.
"We've seen what the best looks like, we've seen what the best looks like at men's level," he told MUTV's Stewart Gardner. "They have certain characteristics. They sacrifice themselves for the team. It's a way of life for them, not a job. They're not bothered about the money, they're just bothered with winning things.
"Once they've won one, they want to win the next one, then the next one. So those habits you try to instil into players because you've seen what the very best looks like and you know what people need to have if they're going to compete with the very best.
"Whatever age level and, even if you're a man at 23, 24 or 25, you've still got to have those habits if you want to get better and have got to strive to get better. Winning is a great habit to have. Once you win, you want to win again, win again, win again and win again.
"The people and teams who are serial winners are different to everyone else in football so those standards have got be really hard in training and you've got to be demanding every single minute of every single day and they don't get the respite.
"These are the things you try to instil into players so you believe and you know that is what winning looks like. Winners find a way to win. They've got a pride when everything is equal, they can still find a way to win.
"You can have equal preparation, as it is now, with equal conditions because everyone is getting sports science, everybody is getting analysis and everyone is getting this and that. The teams that win have got something inside them, a pride inside them.
"When they've got to a find a way to win, whatever it is, they win. You can try to create that in an environment but some of it has got to be in your genetic make-up. You can change people so that they adapt in your environment but, really, it's got to be a characteristic that is instilled in people from when they're young.
"You've seen it close at hand and you've seen it a lot and winning looks the same.
"Whether it's winning at this level, in League Two, League One, the Premier League, Champions League or World Cups. The winners are the same. It's only the different ability and talent levels. That's different. You know not everybody can be Paul Scholes but everybody can still have the characteristics of Paul Scholes and win at another level."
McTominay was forwarded as a player who has thrived due to his mentality, while Will Keane, the spearhead of the club's last FA Youth Cup-winning side in 2011, has proved his resolve in bouncing back from a string of injury setbacks to clinch promotion with Wigan Athletic to the Championship as the leading scorer in League One.
"There are hundreds of players you can name," stressed Joyce. "I wouldn't talk about a Manchester United player. You know I look at the first-team players at Forest - Brennan Johnson, Yatesy [Ryan Yates], Joe Worrall. They are top people, top professionals who conduct themselves really well. They've got talent as well.
"Scott McTominay is not just a worker. He's got talent as well. You can't just be a worker to play for Manchester United. They've got talent as well and those things that I said, those characteristics are evident in the Nottingham Forest first team this season, the culture the manager has created is fantastic. They've got that in abundance, those type of people throughout the football club.
"For Will, it's fantastic for him. You know the troubles he's had. I actually bumped into him on holiday last year and was talking with him. To come through and have the mental toughness to come through when he could look and think: 'What if?' And certainly, at one stage, he was regarded really highly in the England set-up.
"But tough things happen to everybody in their life so it's how you adjust and adapt and make things go right for yourself. It's a tremendous effort for him and I'm delighted with what he has achieved this season."