The 70-year-old manager reveals that he has had to look abroad for young talent in recent years, but changes in legislation could prompt a return to the successes of the 1990s
Sir Alex Ferguson is hopeful that Manchester United will be soon be able to boast a “production line” of talented young players comparable to the generation that included the likes of David Beckham.
The Red Devils boss explained that youth scouting regulations had forced him to look abroad for quality, recruiting the likes of Javier Hernandez, but, since the introduction of the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP), he can return to nurturing more local talent - as he did to great success in the 1990s.
“It has to do with a change in the legislation,” Ferguson told Fifa’s official website.
“A few years ago the requirement was brought in that you could only sign young players that lived within an hour-and-a-half radius of the club’s headquarters. It wasn’t like that before, which was how we were able to sign such fantastic young lads.
“But since it became physically impossible to find six or seven players a year so close by, we decided to change the priorities of our scouting system. As a result, we started to bring in very talented players from abroad and we’ve had success that way.
“But it’s true, in terms of developing players from within the club, it’s been a long time since we produced a player of David Beckham’s calibre.
“But the legislation changed again a short while back [to the EPPP] and it’ll be like it was 15 year ago once more, so I’m very optimistic we’ll be able to get the production line we had in the past going again.”
The EPPP was proposed by the Premier League and accepted by all 72 clubs of the Football League in October with a brief to improve the quality of youth development in England.
A veteran at 70-years-old and over a quarter-of-a-century in charge of United, Ferguson insisted that he still has no plans to retire at the current time.
“My philosophy is that, for as long as I’m enjoying my job and I’m in good health, I’m going to carry on here,” he stated.
“I don’t think you can set yourself limits, but nor can you plan too far ahead because you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow.
“The time will come [for me to retire], obviously, but right now it’s not something I’m thinking about.”