Butt: Chelsea Academy failing in ultimate aim
Written by Simon Austin — October 20, 2017
MANCHESTER UNITED Academy boss Nicky Butt has derided Chelsea’s youth system, saying they produce outstanding players but fail to get them into the first team.
Butt, 42, remembered watching Chelsea’s Under-18s hammer United’s 5-1 at Altrincham in the 4th round of the FA Youth Cup in 2016.
“My job is to get players to the first-team and the best example I can give is that, a couple of years ago, we were given an absolute doing by Chelsea in the FA Youth Cup,” he told ESPN.
“I was sat in the stand, I wasn't in my current role at the time, but I was still cringing. But fast-forward two years and we have Marcus [Rashford] playing over 50 first-team games last season - more than anyone else in the squad - and playing for England.
"With all due respect, Chelsea haven't produced one of their players for the first-team, and the end-game for me is to get players into the first-team."
Chelsea are the Real Madrid of youth football, having won the FA Youth Cup in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Last season they thumped Manchester City 5-1 in the final. The Blues have also been dominant in Europe, winning the Uefa Youth League - the Champions League for U19s - in 2015 and 2016.
Of the team that humiliated United 5-1 in that 2016 tie, only one - Tammy Abraham - has gone on to make a first team appearance for the Blues. He played twice under Guus Hiddink in May 2016 but is now on loan at Swansea City.
In contrast, Rashford has played 51 first-team appearances for United, scoring 12 goals, and has also won 13 England caps. Timothy Fosu-Mensah played 12 times for the first team and has also represented Holland at full international level.
However, he is now on loan at Crystal Palace. Both players were also handed their debuts - and a run of games - by Louis van Gaal, not current manager Jose Mourinho.
Butt insists Mourinho takes an interest in the Academy though.
"I am lucky to have a manager who communicates with me and is interested in some of the younger ones," he said. "We have discussions about them, who to bring up to senior training and who to look at, such as the last game of last season when we had six debutants. That was unbelievable.
"In that sense I'm lucky, but it doesn't surprise me. When the manager came in, he was honest with me. He said that his role was to get United back to winning ways, it wasn't to run the Academy because that was my job.
"But he said he would be here for me to lean on, to help, join in and watch sessions. He said he would discuss players with me in terms of who to bring up, who to put out on loan, but ultimately, he said I was the boss of the Academy and he was the boss of the first-team. If I'm perfectly honest, that's just the way I want it."
Where are they now?
(Man Utd 1-5 Chelsea, FA Youth Cup, Jan 2016)
- OLIVER BYRNE: Joined Cardiff Academy.
- TYRELL WARREN: Man Utd U23s.
- TYLER REID: Joined Swansea.
- RO-SHAUN WILLIAMS: Man Utd reserves.
- TIMOTHY FOSU-MENSAH: First team debut Feb 2016. Made 12 appearances. Now on loan at Crystal Palace.
- CHARLIE SCOTT: Man Utd reserves.
- ZACHARY DEARNLEY: Unused sub in final Premier League game of 2016/17.
- CALLUM WHELAN: Man Utd U23s.
- MARCUS RASHFORD: Has made 51 1st team appearances and scored 12 goals; 13 England caps and 2 goals.
- CALLUM GRIBBIN: Man Utd reserves.
- TOSIN KEHINDE: Man Utd reserves.
- NATHAN BAXTER: On loan at Woking.
- JOSH GRANT: Chelsea U21s.
- FIKAYO TOMORI: On loan at Hull.
- TREVOH CHALOBAH: Chelsea development squad.
- CHARLIE WAKEFIELD: Development squad. Hit headlines for buying his dad a £28k Jaguar.
- MUKHTAR ALI: Joined Vitesse Arnhem.
- MASON MOUNT: On loan at Vitesse Arnhem.
- KYLE SCOTT: Named in Chelsea's Champions League squad, but yet to make a first team appearance.
- JAY DASILVA: On loan at Charlton.
- IKE UGBO: On loan at Barnsley.
- TAMMY ABRAHAM: Two first-team appearances in may 2016. Now on loan at Swansea.