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Opinion Piece

First signs point to bright future for United

2_2013071409575834So far, the summer of 2013 hasn’t been one to remember for Manchester United fans. Having slowly begun to come to terms with Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure, over the last couple of months United and their new manager, David Moyes, have had to negotiate rather rough seas, with transfer targets slipping through the club’s fingers, stars seeking greener pastures elsewhere and widespread inactivity in the transfer window, while the first pre-season outings have been far from exciting.

At first glance, even the most optimistic Reds would be hard pressed to find some positives, with United impasse in the transfer window casting a worrying shadow over the club’s future, particularly considering that Chelsea and Manchester City have bolstered their squad and are considered by many as the clear favourites for the title.

And yet, despite the widespread doom and gloom, there have been some positive notes for United so far. Those positives answer to the names of Adnan Januzaj, Jesse Lingard and Michael Keane, three youngsters that have so far made the most of their opportunity on tour with the first name and who, as David Moyes admitted, are “knocking on the first team’s door”.

Having scored twice in Australia, Lingard confirmed his good form by netting against Yokohama F-Marinos as United fell to a 3-2 defeat in Japan, while Januzaj has occupied the number 10 role throughout the tour so far, displaying great awareness and intelligence for an 18-year-old, as well as some excellent touches, while big things are expected of Michael Keane, who impressed during his loan spell at Leicester last season.

Understandably, a large majority of United fans are growing increasingly worried at the lack of top signings, with the chances of Cesc Fabregas joining the club growing slimmer by the day, while Thiago Alcantara’s decision to join Bayern Munich dealt an early blow to David Moyes, as the new manager is desperate to strengthen his squad.

However, the former Everton manager, should receive more praise than he has for his decision to give young players a chance throughout United’s Australasian tour, with Januzaj, Lingard and new-signing Wilfried Zaha featuring prominently in Moyes’ first outings in charge of the club.

Obviously, expecting youngsters to provide the same impact on the first team that would be generated by a world-class signing would be unrealistic, not to mention the galvanising effect a couple of top players would have on both the team and the fans, as Robin Van Persie’s arrival 12 months ago proved.

Furthermore, focusing on young players’ development doesn’t exclude signing top stars, nor does it make it a surplus to necessity but, likewise, splashing money on established talents alone doesn’t ensure a bright future for the club.

One of the main reasons behind David Moyes’ appointment was his ability to develop young talents, his ability to play on a longer-term deemed largely more appealing and suited to a club of United’s tradition than an approach focused on bringing instant success, with little concern over the non-immediate future.

In Januzaj, Lingard and Keane Moyes has arguably the finest talents produced by United since Jonny Evans and Danny Welbeck, for David De Gea, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and new signing Wilfried Zaha, although young, were purchased from other clubs, rather than nurtured throughout the academy’s ranks.

Moyes’ record at Everton in terms of developing young players speaks for itself and while it would be extremely premature to judge his operate based on the inclusion of a few youngsters in the squad taking part to a summer tour – much as it would be premature to judge him based on the players he will or will not manage to sign this summer – the former Everton manager has surely taken a step in the right direction, even if some of the youngsters were only included in the squad as replacements some of the injured first team players.

It might be considered an insignificant step by those desperate for immediate success, but for everything the club stands for and represents, it is a hugely important one. The present might be a tad uninspiring but the future could be extremely bright.