Manchester United are a club that are known for their history, for their brand of football and for the charisma of their players and managers alike. From the days of Sir Matt Busby to the days of Sir Alex Ferguson, a lot of things had changed at Manchester United, but two things remained constant.
The two most successful managers of this historic club had two mantras that made them both hugely successful. One was the commitment to free-flowing attacking football, which both managers made utmost use of to get the fans on their back and the second was the promotion of youth.
Whether it was the “Busby Babes” of the 1950’s to the more recent “Fergie’s fledglings” of the early 1990’s the club has seen some phenomenal young players come through the ranks and being given an opportunity to play in the first team to prove themselves. In the past decade or so, there haven’t been as many good young players coming through.
Barring Darren Fletcher who came through towards the early part of the last decade and Danny Welbeck who came through in the early part of this one, there haven’t been too many players that have come through the ranks. Although there have been plenty of promising prospects plying their trade at Old Trafford over the past decade or so, not too many have been able to break into the first-team, let alone cement their place in the lineup.
While the reason why is still up for debate, one thing is for sure. Of all of Louis van Gaal’s signings so far, his best one might just be a member of the non-playing staff. The appointment of Albert Stuivenberg as an assistant coach at Manchester United shows that the Dutchman is keen to harness the club’s youth system and make full use of the club’s extensive network of scouts who have brought some of the brightest young talents from all over the world to Old Trafford.
For those who don’t know too much about the Dutchman, Stuivenberg was coach of the Netherlands U-17 side who won the 2011 and 2012 UEFA European Championship. He was also in charge of the Dutch U-21 side recently and his inclusion to the coaching staff shows that Van Gaal is keen to stick to United’s DNA and secure a long-term future for the club. Van Gaal has shown that despite his inclination to buy new players, he also has a vested interest in the long-term success of the club that he is set to take over once the World Cup is over.
While there is no doubt that the club needs to splash the cash right now on a few players to improve a lackluster squad, the fact of the matter is that, if the club wants to succeed in the long run, they will need players coming in from the academy and stepping into the first-team. For, there is only so much money you can spend, especially with Financial Fairplay rules kicking in to curb big spending.
The 62-year-old Dutchman understands this and his appointment of Stuivenberg is certainly a step in the right direction. The Dutch have always been known for their beautiful football and the appointment of one of the finest youth coaches in Europe shows that Van Gaal is keen on improving the club’s youth structure and help bring more tactically astute players through the ranks at Old Trafford.
So far, Van Gaal has made all the right moves and has already shown that he is ready to make some tough calls if they need to be made. The Dutchman has also addressed a couple of key concerns in the squad that needed attention and is already plotting a move for a few more targets as well. Irrespective of who comes in before the start of the season, the appointment of Stuivenberg as an assistant coach certainly means that the club’s long-term future is in able hands.
So don’t be surprised if you see a few youngsters breaking into the first-team and giving the experienced campaigners a run for the money. If there is one thing that Van Gaal has done throughout his career, that is his promotion of youth and that looks certain to continue at Old Trafford.