Eric Cantona impressed by Manchester United’s youth policy

by Ben Topliss

Eric Cantona prefers to see a strong academy at the heart of football clubs and feels they are the best way to create an ‘unbeatable’ team.

Both Manchester clubs have spent considerable sums of money on players in recent years but Man United have a far better record when it comes to bringing through young talent.

The likes of Paddy McNair, Tyler Blackett and James Wilson have all made the step up from the U21s this term while the likes of Danny Welbeck have also featured in United’s first-team in previous years.

Cantona believes United’s policy is the best one as young players develop a better understanding by rising through the ranks together.

Speaking about the difference between City and United, Cantona said: ”City cannot win the league every year. There are so many clubs that can win the league, that’s why English football is so exciting. There are clubs who buy the best players, there are clubs who work on young players, and there are clubs who do both.

“I prefer this kind of club, like United, who, while rich enough to buy the best players, also work on young players. The academy at the club is very important, they have worked on that for many years.

“You can buy the best players but when you have a great academy, a great generation, nobody can beat it because they have played together since they were 14 years old – Barcelona also understood that.

“Maybe City are trying to build something, maybe Chelsea are working on that also, but it takes time, and we will see. You can build a team with a lot of money and the year after you win the league, but with young players you need 10 years.”

With financial fair play regulations becoming increasingly influential, City will need to bring through youth and soon if they want to achieve long-term success. They did open new, state-of-the-art facilities recently but it is unlikely that any academy products will get into the first-team soon.

Meanwhile, United have kept up an incredible record of having a homegrown player in each of their match-day squads since 1937.

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