Nicky Butt handed key role at Man Utd

Butt set to be named as Man Utd academy coach
Butt set to be named as Man Utd academy coach

Former Manchester United midfielder Nicky Butt has been named as the club's new academy chief.

United have been widely expected to revamp their youth team set-up, with the departure of under-18s’ coach Paul McGuinness from his post last week evidence of a change of direction at Old Trafford.

Now Butt has assumed the key role of reviving the United set-up from grass roots levels, with club officials suggesting changes are needed to revive the system that saw so many star names emerge as first team heroes during the 1990s.

"I am delighted that Nicky has accepted the role of Head of Academy," said United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.

"Nicky has the traditions and heritage of this Club in his blood and he is the natural choice to ensure that, in modernising the way the Academy operates and shaping the new investment we are making, it retains the values and the focus that it has always had.

"Manchester United's Academy is completely focused on producing young players for our first team. As a graduate of its finest team in the modern era, Nicky will bring passion, energy and experience to drive the Academy forward, retaining the characteristics that give us a competitive advantage -- namely an unmatched track record of player development together with the runway of first-team action."

Butt expressed his delight after taking over a role that could be vital to United's long term plans 

"It's a privilege to take on this role," he said. "As someone who learned his trade in the United youth set-up, it's a huge honour now to be given the chance to lead the Academy and to instil its values and attitudes to continue to create future generations of Manchester United players.

"It's a big challenge but I am fortunate to be taking over a dedicated, first-class team. Our aim remains the same -- to keep supplying the first team with well-coached, rounded players that understand the responsibility of playing for the biggest club in the world."

Butt was part of a United FA Youth Cup winning team that featured the likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and David Beckham, but those glory days are now a fading memory.

United's owners believe an improved academy structure can benefit all areas of the club from the youth teams to the senior side, as the club's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward confirmed last week. 

"The academy continues to be the heart of the club," stated Woodward during United's second quarterly investors' call.

"Our key competitive advantages are still very strong. Those are an unmatched track record of player development compared to any other team, in particular in England.

"Secondly, the runway we deliver of first-team opportunities to those players coming through is very different to some of our competitors."

"Giving youth a chance is part of our philosophy, part of our DNA. We took the departure of Brian McClair last summer as an opportunity to do a root and branch review of the academy, that's now complete and changes are underway. Announcements will follow in the coming days."