Jesse Lingard has backed Manchester United’s academy products to play a major role next season as the club bid to rediscover their mojo under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
United experienced an upturn in form when Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho in December when the Norwegian won nine of his first 10 matches in charge.
But after handing Solskjaer the job full time in March, United’s form dipped again with just two wins in their final 12 matches of the season.
One bright spot from the season however has been some of the younger players being given a chance with academy starlets Mason Greenwood, Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes making appearances the first team.
And Lingard, himself an academy product, believes United supporters can expect the current crop to feature a lot more next campaign.
“I definitely think you’ll see more of the kids next season,” Lingard told BTSport.com in an exclusive interview.
“It will be more of the crop that have been involved – Mason, Gomes, Chong... Those that have played are really exciting. They can give the fans energy, and the team can feed off that.”
Lingard was speaking at the Treble Reunion, a match featuring many players involved in United’s 1999 dramatic Champions League final win over Bayern Munich.
That victory sealed an unprecedented Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League treble, a success spearheaded by the Class of 92’ – a collection of Carrington graduates including Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville.
The reunion match is a reminder of United’s record of bringing through academy players to great effect with the famous win in Barcelona an inspiration to the youngsters who have come through the set-up.
“I just remember the celebration, they were crazy” Lingard, who was six at the time recalls. “Deansgate was flooded with United fan. [The treble winners] created history and they’ve inspired us since then.”
Gomes, United’s youngest player ever, is a talented creative midfielder who joined the club as a six-year-old while Chong is a Netherlands Under-21 international that impressed during brief cameos on the right wing.
Striker Greenwood meanwhile made his senior debut as a late substitute in the Champions League last-16 win over Paris Saint-Germain and was handed his first start in the final-day defeat by Cardiff.
And with defensive pair Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Axel Tuanzebe and goalkeeper Dean Henderson also impressing on loan spells away from Old Trafford this season, United’s squad could be set for a fresh injection of youth in 2019/20.
“Everyone wants there to be a mix,” said Marcus Rashford, another product of United’s academy who got his opportunity in the Europa League in 2016.
“But we need to get the right players around the young players so they can perform. I’m sure Solskjaer will be looking to do that and of course the young players are all part of his plans.”
Recent big-name signings Alexis Sanchez and Fred haven’t worked out and United are reliant on a number of players approaching the twilight of their careers.
So the recent signing of Daniel James, a 21-year-old purchased from Championship side Swansea, suggests a different approach to transfers at United.
And the youngsters coming through look set to speed that process up as Solskjaer seeks to improve the energy in United’s dressing room for next season.
Proceeds from the Treble Reunion at Old Trafford went to the Manchester United Foundation with information on how to donate available here.