Four goals is all it has taken for Marcus Rashford and the so-called “Class of 2016” to reignite some hope amongst the Red Devils fans in salvaging something from an otherwise dismal season.
However, these fresh-faced youngsters still have a long way to go. These are a few words of caution regarding the prospect of the latest crop of Carrington youths and why they may not be the short or long-term answer to Manchester United's woes.
A perennial question when dealing with young talents. United have had its fair share of managerial headaches in the past - Paul Pogba and Ravel Morrison are the two most recent and high-profile examples - and the question of the youth squads is a pertinent one.
SUBMIT AN ARTICLE
Apply to become a GMS writer by signing up and submitting a 250 word test article: http://gms.to/haveyoursay5
Article continues below
Initial indicators are comforting: the team sits atop the youth division and recent performances have shown an old-school United hunger. Moreover, Nicky Butt’s appointment is likely to come with a no-nonsense approach reflective of the former bruiser himself.
Nonetheless, this is all before anyone has concretely broken into the first team, and the increase in salary reserves following the impending TV sponsorship deal and the prospect of more minutes might well entice some away from Old Trafford.
Article continues below
United’s use of their reserves in recent seasons has varied between David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, with a marked increase in their use under the latter.
Van Gaal’s trademark emphasis on development has been a rare highlight of his tenure, however much it has been driven by necessity at times. At the moment, the Dutchman’s job seems precariously safe but the chances of him staying beyond his initial three years are nil. Staff changes are imminent and the odds-on favourite Jose Mourinho has a dubious record of player development.
Lastly, there is the question of fealty and the question of how much devotion can be expected from burgeoning talents in the modern game. With infinitely more power to seek out ridiculous contracts and demand large pay rises, talented youngsters have less incentive than ever to become one club men; especially when they do not even know who their manager will be.
This is not to say there aren’t reasons to be excited: as mentioned above, the energy and hunger in recent games are legitimate reasons for fans to get their hopes up.
But only slightly.