Marcus Rashford’s emergence at Manchester United is proof that the club’s academy system is more profitable than Chelsea’s, says Nicky Butt.
The Blues have dominated the youth scene in recent years, collecting four successive FA Youth Cup triumphs and six victories over an eight-year period.
Rashford 11/10 to score v Huddersfield
There has, however, been little progress at Stamford Bridge for those to have formed part of those trophy wins, with the production line of talent often halted once it reaches senior level.
In contrast, United are still trying to promote from within, as they did so successfully with the Class of ‘92, with Rashford the most successful of the recent graduates.
Butt, who is now in charge of the Old Trafford academy, believes positive progress is being made, with the Red Devils having bested Chelsea despite suffering a humbling 5-1 defeat to the Blues back in 2015-16.
He told ESPN FC: “We won the FA Youth Cup [in 1992] and got players into the first-team.
“If that happens, you get a pat on the back from the board and the owners because it’s brilliant.
“But 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. 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 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.”
That argument is supported by the fact that products of United’s academy saw more Premier League minutes in 2016-17 than any other club, with the Red Devils working hard to bring through players of that calibre even if they end up turning out for domestic rivals.
Butt added: “The hard thing now is the immediacy in football.
“Owners come in, spend millions and millions on players, contracts and managers and they want immediate success. But football doesn’t work that way and Academy football doesn’t work that way. You don’t get instant success, you get it over a period of time because you have to give young players the chance to grow and get used to that life.
“We do things the Manchester United way because we think we are pioneers in what we do. We move forward, we don’t stand still. We have coaches and people at the club who don’t suck up to kids. Instead, they help them learn how to do things in life.
“We do lots of things ourselves that are not put onto us by the Premier League or any governing body. We do what’s right for our players and the Manchester United way is what we do because we know it is right.
“It’s not just about the players who come through our ranks and become potential world stars like Marcus Rashford, but players who don’t quite make it here have unbelievable careers elsewhere.
“There are so many of our players playing professional football elsewhere now and I don’t think any club in the world can match the numbers.”
Of United’s current squad, Jesse Lingard, Axel Tuanzebe, Scott McTominay and Joel Pereira sit alongside fellow academy graduate Rashford, while Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Sam Johnstone, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Andreas Pereira are taking in loan spells elsewhere, Paul Pogba has returned and the likes of Angel Gomes are pushing hard for more senior minutes with their performances at youth level.