Sammy Ameobi and Shane Ferguson have both departed United recently, and there are set to be more departures as players like James Tavernier follow suit.
Now if you’re an advocate of youth, don’t panic. These switches are only temporary and will give these lads an opportunity to get some game time playing at a decent level which is what they need.
Of course they were getting that here, perhaps through necessity rather than anything else, but it didn’t work and now the club have had to alter their plans to ensure Premier League safety is assured first and foremost. The plan backfired and the kids couldn’t cut it often enough to make a real difference and now we’ve turned to older, experienced, heads in the interim.
This is not to say that these temporary switches signal the end of these younger lads at NUFC. Far from it in fact. These loan switches should have been part of the plan all along for me but with United keen to develop their own players the young lads were afforded playing time for us instead of another club.
It didn’t work. Sure there were some good performances from some of the younger lads and some have impressed enough to be considered part of the first team setup already. Players like Gael Bigirimana have played both domestically and continentally and have rarely let us down. Others though have been inconsistent and shown flashes of brilliance and frustration in equal measure.
I’m unsure whether the failure to strengthen in the summer forced our hand into playing the youngsters or if it was part of the plan all along. Publically of course it was always part of the plan as Alan Pardew revealed he was happy with the squad, but privately I’ll bet he wasn’t so enthusiastic and those positive words at the start of the season were mainly for morale purposes.
What should have happened is that players like Ferguson and Sammy should have been loaned out to teams in the Championship at the start of the season giving them ample opportunity to play competitive games at a decent level and cut their teeth in professional football in an environment that isn’t as demanding as the one at United.
I hear people saying “if they’re good enough they’re old enough” in relation to some of our younger players, and that is true to an extent. But all players need to learn and it’s not often you get a young lad who can go into the first team at a young age and flourish. Those examples are rare and even some of the brightest talents in England have been farmed at other clubs before making an impact at their own club.
This is the way I hope we do it from now on. It’s a valiant effort trying to “grow you own” for want of a better way of putting it, but at the end of the day it’s unfair on everyone involved to keep persisting with players when they just aren’t ready. Dare I say it but being thrown into a higher level so early on could actually do more harm than good?
The Championship is an ideal playground for some of our better kids to learn their trade. Any lower than that and you have to wonder if they have the ability to make it at the very top level anyway. I suggest this is the path we now tread with younger players as ultimately it will benefit everyone and will give us a chance to assess whether these youngsters can actually make the step up without being thrust into it right from the word go.
What do you think?