Nicky Butt insists Manchester United’s academy is still the most attractive option for young players despite the emergence of their big-spending rivals.
United announced on Tuesday that Butt had been appointed head of the club’s fabled academy, replacing Brian McClair – who left to join the Scottish Football Association last year.
Butt was part of the most famous group to have graduated from the club’s youth set-up in recent times – the famous Class of 92, which included stars like Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs.
And now he has been charged with restoring the reputation of an academy whose prominence in the area has come under threat following the multi-million pound expansion of Manchester City’s academy, where many ex-United players have sent their children in the last few years.
Despite the expansion of City’s elite development squads, Butt is adamant that United remain the best option for youngsters who are about to embark upon a career in the game.
“No-one else can touch our club, with our pathway for the players to come through,” the former United midfielder told MUTV.
“We speak to the parents very passionately about it and the evidence is there for all to see.
“There are not many clubs I can think of that produce that pathway. We’ve done that very well for many years but we can’t stand still.
“We must move forward with every aspect of the Academy and it starts with me taking over and moving forward. We know we’re not far away.”
Five of the eleven U16s offered scholarships have not signed as they fear there is no room for progression at City. [ESPN FC]
— City Watch (@City_Watch) February 15, 2016
Butt said he had been “given assurances” that the club was still moving forward despite the poor performance of the first team in the Barclays Premier League.
Beleaguered manager Louis van Gaal has brought the likes of Jesse Lingard, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Paddy McNair into the first team, but had there not been a raft of injuries in the senior squad, it is debatable whether they would have got their chance.
“Everybody needs a bit of luck,” Butt added.
“In fairness, the lads who have come in last year and this year have taken their chances. Credit all the coaches who have had them since seven, eight or nine and it’s something we’re very proud of.”
Butt made 387 appearances for the club during a 12-year spell in which time he won six Premier League titles, three FA Cups, and the Champions League once.
The former England midfielder, who also played for Newcastle, returned to United in 2012 as a reserve team coach and has recently been coaching the Under-19 side.
He has set his sights high in his latest job, claiming he and the club should be looking to produce one-club players and Champions League winners at Carrington.
“That’s what a Manchester United player’s job is – to make the difference. You don’t just come here to play 10 games and move on to another club,” he said.
“We want them to be here for many years. We want another Giggs, Neville or Scholes, these one-club guys who play here for many years and contribute to the club.
“That’s what our aim is. We’re very proud when they make their debuts, very proud when they have careers in the Championship and League One but, ultimately, the aim is to provide top, top class players for Manchester United that can go on to win the Champions League.
Butt is desperate to do his bit to bring the glory days back to Old Trafford.
“Now it’s time to move forward and move the club back to where we feel it should be,” he added.
“We can’t stand still as a team in any area of the club. I’ve had reassurances about where we’re going so it’s all positive.”
Butt has not ruled out helping with coaching the Under-19s and is considering bringing in other people to support him in his wide-ranging role.
“It’s a massive job for one person,” he said.
“It may be for more than one person, so we are looking at bringing more people in to support me.”