The famed Manchester United academy has been home to some of the best talents over the years. Time and again the institution has unearthed some diamonds in the rough that have gone on to become global superstars.
As a young footballer at the Red Devils’ academy, you dream of walking the halls of the Theater of Dreams, Old Trafford, and representing one of the biggest clubs in England and Europe.
Many such talented young kids join the Manchester United academy hoping to turn this dream into reality, but it takes a lot more than just talent to make it on the big stage.
Manchester United academy producing superstarsThe Manchester United academy has had no shortage of top players coming through and making it into the senior team. Many of these talents ultimately became club legends and cult heroes for the fans.
Think no further than the class of ’92 with players like Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, and David Beckham amongst the most gifted players coming through the Manchester United academy.
More recently, the likes of Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood have been the flag bearers of the United academy, which is such a crucial part of the club’s identity and culture.
But it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. Manchester United have had their fair share of academy graduates who failed to make it on the big stage or just failed to realize their potential. Here we take a look at United’s five worst academy graduates of the last decade.
#5 Angel Gomes Manchester United v Norwich City – Premier LeagueAngel Gomes was the youngest debutant for the club at the age of 16, since Duncan Edwards in 1953. The Englishman also captained his nation’s U17 side in their World Cup win. The young midfielder was highly rated by the club and fans alike as an exciting young talent. With a diminutive figure, the attacking midfielder was well known for his close control and technical ability with the ball.
But after his senior team debut, Gomes had very limited game time under then manager Jose Mourinho. While he did continue to play games for the Manchester United academy, he failed to break into the first-team squad, making just 10 appearances in all competitions in more than two years at the club.
A clear lack of game time meant he refused to sign a contract extension, joining French side Lille and immediately going on loan to Portuguese side Boavista for the season. Gomes joins the list of academy graduates who were earmarked to be a huge success but failed to make it to the first team.
#4 Tyler Blackett Manchester United v Swansea City – Premier LeagueTyler Blackett made his debut for Manchester United under Louis van Gaal, starting for the Dutchman in his first Premier League game. Blackett was one of the many Manchester United academy graduates that were given first-team debuts by Van Gaal.
The Manchester-born defender could play centrally and as a left back. As a Manchester United academy graduate, Blackett did feature frequently under Van Gaal, making 11 appearances in the 2014/15 Premier League season.
However, it was not all smooth sailing for Blackett. The defender was sent off in a Premier League outing against Leicester City, while he also scored a late own goal in a 1-1 draw with Arsenal that season.
The young Manchester United academy graduate was then deemed surplus to requirements and went out on loan to Celtic FC in the following campaign.
Blackett was eventually sold to Reading FC in 2016. After four long seasons at Reading, he currently plies in his trade at Nottingham Forest in the Championship.