Manchester United “can never play without academy players in its first team squad”, says Gary Neville, with a club legend welcoming Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s efforts to preserve that tradition.
The former Red Devils defender emerged through a famed academy system himself to form part of the fabled Class of ‘92.
That group, which included the likes of David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, helped to establish an era of domestic dominance for United.
Home-grown talent has always been important to the club, though, with the ‘Busby Babes’ setting the benchmark back in the 1940s and 50s.
Solskjaer is the man charged with honouring those philosophies in the present, with Marcus Rashford, Scott McTominay and Mason Greenwood forming part of his squad.
Neville hopes that youth development will always be at the heart of what United do, with it vital that big-money superstars drafted in from afar are complemented by those who cost nothing.
The eight-time Premier League title winner told Sky Sports: “Manchester United can never play without academy players in its first team squad. It is far too important a value to drop and that was something born out of the 1950s.
“I think Manchester United won the Youth Cup for the five or six years on the bounce with Bobby Charlton winning three of four of them.
“I think from those very early years the sort of academy was so important to the club and those principles.
“Even thinking about the simple things like the club blazer at Manchester United that was worn by the Busby Babes, you still see the Manchester United players wear to this day. You have to keep certain things the same.
“We know the rest of technology moves on and nutrition, sports science, everything moves forward but some things have to remain stable.
“And I think with Manchester United those things that were born in the 50s and 60s under Sir Matt Busby, culminating in that 1968 [European Cup] victory, it’s important that we still see values deployed at the club, and by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the first-team manager.”
United’s class of 2019-20 will soon be cleared to resume their pursuit of a top-four finish, with the Premier League given the green light to return on June 17, while Solskjaer’s side also remain in contention for FA Cup and Europa League glory.