Manchester United legend Paul Scholes has hailed the impact of U-21 team manager Warren Joyce in preparing youngsters like Marcus Rashford for the first team.
Louis van Gaal has been forced to promote a number of players to the first team squad in the face of injuries to senior players and underperforming signings.
Yet while the Dutchman has handed debuts to 14 academy players during his Old Trafford tenure, including six since February, Scholes doesn’t think he deserves all the credit.
“One man who does deserve a lot of credit is Warren Joyce,” the former midfielder told MUFC fanzine United We Stand.
“The U-21s are the most successful team at the club right now. They win [almost] every week. He has them so well prepared and they’re as fit as anything.
“It’s his job to have his players ready for the first team when required and it’s to his credit that they’ve come straight in and looked as good, if not better, than the first team lads.”
Scholes reserved particular praise for 22-year-old Uruguayan full-back Guillermo Varela, who has made ten senior appearances for the club so far this season.
“Varela has done better than I expected him to and I think he’s probably surprised a lot of the coaching staff at United too,” said Scholes.
“As a lad at United, he was probably struggling to get into the U-21 team at one point, so I think he’s the biggest surprise of them all.”
However, Scholes has been much less surprised by 18-year-old Marcus Rashford.
The teenager scored twice on his debut in the Europa League against FC Midtjylland before adding two further goals against Arsenal three days later.
“I’ve seen him play since he was 14 or 15 and you always knew talent was there,” he said.
“His goals [so far in the first team] have been goal scorers’ goals, but he’s got so much more than that. He’s quick and he’s good outside the box and he can smash a ball too.”
And Scholes hinted at more to come from the Wythenshawe lad.
“You’ve not seen it yet but he hits free kicks in a dipping fashion, almost like Ronaldo does.”
The fact that the likes of Rashford, Varela and Jesse Lingard have stood out in Van Gaal’s side is a damning indictment of the Dutchman’s transfer policy, according to Scholes.
“If it wasn’t for the amount of injuries United have had, these young lads wouldn’t be anywhere near the first team yet.
“It’s probably shown how bad [Van Gaal’s] signings have been that these lads have come in and have looked brilliant in comparison.”
Scholes has been outspoken in his criticism of United’s performances this season but the 11-time Premier League winner stressed that he has also praised the team – constructive comments which go unnoticed by the media.
“There have been times when I’ve tried to be positive but only the negative stuff gets printed,” he lamented.
“For example at PSV away [in September] when we got beat. We didn’t play great but I could see something happening in the United way.
“By that I mean we had two wingers in Ashley Young and Memphis [Depay] and I was encouraged by it.
“Maybe people should take note of when I am trying to be more positive.
“I just want to see a Man United team play football the way a Man United team should.”
Image courtesy of MUTV via YouTube, with thanks.