Manchester United: The next generation of superstars

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The term “Fergie's Fledglings” was coined in the wake of the famous treble winning United team of ’99, in which homegrown players such as Beckham, Scholes, Giggs, Butt and the Neville brothers featured prominently.

Now, with these players all either retired or in the twilight years of their careers, we ask: is there a new generation of fledglings on the horizon at Old Trafford?

With 2011 seeing the end of Manchester United’s incredible 73-year run of including at least one homegrown player in every starting lineup, many feared that this was the beginning of the end for the fledgling culture.

The question we must ask is: are the recent graduates of Manchester United’s youth academy up to the task of filling the boots of legends such as Giggs and Scholes?

Adnan Januzaj

The flavour of the week as his two impressive goals against Sunderland carried a lacklustre United over the line last weekend. The question surrounding the 18-year-old is less to do with his talent and more to do with his contract situation, with only one year remaining and rumoured interest from Barcelona, United need to move fast to lock him down.

Tom Cleverley

With flashes of brilliance from Cleverley in midfield over the past couple of seasons, it comes as no surprise that comparisons have been made with Scholes. However, with a lack of consistency and a reluctance to promote him to a regular first team player, there are some improvements to be made before this comparison is wholly justified. 

Danny Welbeck

With an important goal against Real Madrid and 13 goals in the previous campaign, Welbeck has shown he can perform at the highest level when called upon. But with intense competition from Rooney, Hernandez and Van Persie, it is difficult to envisage a time in the near future where he will hold down a regular starting spot.

Jesse Lingard

Currently loaned out to Birmingham, the impressive striker netted four goals on his debut against Sheffield Wednesday.  Capable of playing both on the wing and in the no.10 role it seems only a matter of time until he bursts onto the scene for club and country.

There have also been setbacks to the future stars of the United youth system with Paul Pogba publicly voicing his dissatisfaction over his contract offer, prompting his switch to Juventus.

The success of the best players in the youth team also seems to be declining. Previous winners of the coveted Young Player of the Year awards include household names such as Scholes and Giggs, but in more recent years winners such as Ryan Tunnicliffe and Will Keane have so far failed to live up to the high standard that United demands.

So should United fans be worried? The short answer is no. It would seem that while there have been few notable graduates from the youth program in recent seasons, there are some exceptional talents about to emerge onto the big stage in a year or two.

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