The improvement of United's young players during the second half of last season and the preseason have asked as many questions as answers. Who can play their way into the first team from the start of the season? Who can develop into UNited quality players in the next 6-12 months? Who doesn't have a realistic chance of "making it"?
Those in contention areThe da Silvas, Macheda, Welbeck, Cleverley, Gibson, Possebon, Hewson, De Laet, Simpson, Heaton, Cathcart, Chester, Corey Evans, Magnus Eikrem...The list goes on.
Already we have seen a considerable profit from selling academy and reserve players to championship and premier league clubs, with Eagles & Eckersley to visit Old Trafford this season with their newly promoted team Burnley, Frazier Campbell playing at Sunderland, Lee Martin off to Ipswich while Danny Pugh and Ryan Shawcross made their way to Stoke a couple of season's ago.
Playing reserve football against younger opposition doesn't help them now anymore. Playing for a "lower placed" premiership club and getting a game every second week and in the cups, ( about 25 games a season) would vastly improve the all round games of our younger players.
Rodrigo Possebon's move to Braga, where he will develop as an allround midfielder, and also get exposure in the much anticipated Europa League, where he will learn to play against various styles, tempos and in various countries and climates. A move to a club like Fulham, who are in need of players to help them through their season in Europe and in the League, would be mutually beneficial. A move to another premier league club would be beneficial for Cleverley, Hewson, De Laet, Corey Evans, James Chester, Ben Amos and even for Danny Welbeck. But Gibson, Macheda, the da Silvas and Heaton should be willing to fight for a place in the first team, although Tom Heaton may look to go to another club on a permanent basis, as Amos and Zieler seem to have the potential to go all the way to the top.
The "Busby" tradition of academy graduates making a name for themselves at United, has slowed to a trickle, with only Fletcher, Brown, O'Shea coming through the ranks in the past few years. The clubs success, and the need to maintain success, have made it harder for younger players to find their feet at United.The club has sacrificed their 'youth progression policy" in favour of buying fully developed players to slot into the first team. Players like Ferdinand, Carrick, Vidic, Evra, Park, Anderson, Nani, Rooney, Berbatov and now Owen, and Valencia make up the majority of the squad. I'm not saying its time to have a clear out of the squad, and trust in the potential of the youngsters, but maybe its time to play the youngsters a bit more, gel them into the 1st team environment, help them adapt to the rigours of the premier league , alongside the experienced players and club legends.
The easist way to cope with the loss of Ronaldo is to trust in the talent and development of the youngsters. Sir Alex has shown before, You can win things with Kids.