Of all of the feats Sir Alex Ferguson's tenure at Old Trafford will be remembered for, an ambitious and ultimately fruitful production line that developed the careers of numerous young players is up there with the most prevalent.

Without dwelling too much on the obvious usual suspects of David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, Ferguson's mantra of placing his faith in emerging young stars often paid dividends throughout his United career, and despite there being the inevitable few who failed to live up to their hype, the Old Trafford youth system can boast to be one of the healthiest in the world.

In my mind one of the most intriguing facts about it's high level of productivity is that a large portion of players deemed not good to make the grade at the perennial Premier League title contenders went on to become key men in other sides.

It's one of the more famous examples of this occurrence that I have chosen to discuss in this piece as, in my mind, it's ironically one of the men that Ferguson let go who could go some way to aiding David Moyes through a debut season plagued by uncertainty.

When Ryan Shawcross left Manchester United to join Stoke City on a permanent deal in 2008 he had largely become a player who was considered a strong reserve, but by no means a player who would offer reason for either Rio Ferdinand or Nemanja Vidic to be dropped to the bench.

Having only really garnered senior experience during a loan move to Belgian side Royal Antwerp, Shawcross arrival at Tony Pulis' Championship hopefuls was met with no fanfare.

Fast forward to the current day however and the 26-year-old is a proven Premier League regular who has developed quite the reputation of being a redoubtable, if not no-nonsense, defender.

The Stoke captain has long been linked with a move to one of English football's big boys but for some reason or another it's never materialised. For me, now is the time for that to change, and it's David Moyes who can make it happen.

United's need for a strong centre-back is perhaps the most obvious of all the looming issues Moyes must tackle in January. Whilst at 32 Vidic can command his spot for at least another season, Ferdinand's decline has been less than glorious, and realistically speaking they don't have a replacement within their ranks who's ready to fill in on a permanent basis.

Whilst the likes of Matts Hummels and the extremely overpriced Eliaquim Mangala have been discussed as possible options, for me the right choice, not only economically but also with an eye on the amount of time it takes for a new signing to settle, is someone far closer to home.

He may not be the most technically gifted whilst on the ball but Shawcross is comfortable with the strength and pace of the Premier League, and his experience in the division means that Moyes wouldn't have to worry about any issues when it comes to acclimatisation.

The Potters' skipper is approaching the peak of his career and United could stand to benefit from it if Moyes chooses to strengthen his back-line with a cheaper, less fancied option than the foreign imports currently being suggested.

He may once have been considered a United reject, but Shawcross has bloomed not so much into a beautiful flower as a hardened rock.

Cheap, reliable and experienced in the toughest league in the world. He may not have been good enough for Sir Alex, but he'd more than do a job for David Moyes.

Topics:
#Premier League
#Manchester United
#Ryan Shawcross
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