Nicky Butt has urged Manchester United’s fans to be patient with the club’s emerging crop of promising young talent.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has handed opportunities to several of the club’s best prospects over the opening weeks of the new season, with the likes of Mason Greenwood, Tahith Chong and Brandon Williams having all featured in the first-team.
Man United academy chief Butt admits he has been delighted with the progress of the academy graduates, and says there are several more stars awaiting their chance to make the step-up to the senior side.
“We’re all excited about these young boys and there’s probably another four or five in the background that are slowly going to come up behind them,” Butt told the Press Association.
“Hopefully more behind that and more behind that, but they’re only babies and young at the minute.
“But, for me, it’s difficult to bring in a lot of players into a team that’s not firing on all cylinders, if you like.”
Despite seeing the progression of several academy graduates to the fringes of first-team football, Butt has urged caution when it comes to placing too much expectation on developing talents.
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“You have to be careful when you put these players in because if they get too much expectation on their shoulders at an early age, a few bad games can see them fall by the wayside.
“We know ourselves as adults. When you get rejection as a young teenager, whether it be football, girl doesn’t fancy you or something happens at college, you fail your driving licence, it’s like the end of the world.
“So, can you imagine playing in front of 76,000, having a bad game and getting beat 4-0 and you’re reading the paper – because they all read papers and obviously now it’s social media – and you get a bit of stick on there? It can kill them.
“I genuinely do believe that we have some really, really top talent but my concern would be putting too much weight on their shoulders at this moment in time, which might have to happen because of injuries or suspensions or whatever goes on in the squad dynamic.”
Butt used the example of forward Greenwood as a player the fans need to be patient with, despite the teenager’s impact since being handed an opportunity in the first-team
The 17-year-old has been rewarded for his recent displays with a new long-term contract, and could feature once again in Thursday’s Europa League clash against Partizan Belgrade.
“It’s very, very difficult and the message we want to give as an academy and as a club is, yeah, Mason Greenwood, if you want to use his name, he looks like an unbelievable, talented boy, which he is.
“But the word ‘boy’ is what he is, and we have to just, as a fanbase and supporters, be patient with these boys.”