Louis van Gaal hopes the promotion of young players will be his legacy at Manchester United and has warned the club against replacing him with a boss who doesn’t give youth a chance.
The Dutchman has promoted homegrown players Jesse Lingard and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and given responsibility to teenage signing Anthony Martial.
Van Gaal’s rumoured replacement Jose Mourinho is famously reluctant to blood youngsters, with no Academy player becoming a first-team regular in either of his two spells at the club.
“It is always good that you educate your own players, in the culture of Manchester United and also the playing style of Manchester United,” Van Gaal says in The Independent.
“It is very important, but I have taken a risk in minimising my squad to accommodate young players because when you have a lot of injuries, you have problems. But now I have given the chance to Lingard, Borthwick-Jackson also, while Martial and Memphis [Depay] are also very young.
“You have seen Xavi and Iniesta, for example, I gave them their debuts at Barcelona. Also Thiago Motta, but they [young players] have to do it themselves.
“But when I leave, I cannot help them anymore, they do it by themselves, and that is also very good because I am only a means to an end for them. They do it by themselves, but maybe I can be a very good means for my players.
“I hope people will look back in the future and talk of the young players as my legacy, but you can never tell.
“The next manager would also have to show the confidence in the younger players. So I cannot judge. If United, after I retire, hire a manager who does not give the benefit of the doubt to youngsters, it shall be very difficult.
“It is also very important for the board of Manchester United to look at the profile of the new manager. If they ask [for a recommendation as manager], I shall give my opinion and after that, they can do what they wish. But I never reign beyond my grave and, when I am gone, I cannot influence or contribute.
“It is up to the young players to take their opportunities, though, and the main factor in that is the player himself.
“It’s here [he points to his head], but also his attitude, how he deals with negative things, because it is not always sunshine and hallelujah.”