The Red Devils have been praised for reaching out to their next generation of stars after their season was prematurely brought to an end
Manchester United have praised the attitudes of their academy players for the way they have dealt with the coronavirus pandemic, insisting that they have been “overwhelmed” by their attitude and kindness in a letter sent to all players within the club's youth system.
Training was halted at the United's Carrington base back in March due to government social distancing restrictions that were brought in following the outbreak of Covid-19, with all age groups told to train at home.
And while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have returned to the training ground to begin their preparations for the return of the Premier League season, the younger age groups, as well as the women’s side, have seen their season’s come to a premature end.
Throughout the pandemic, academy staff have been in constant contact with their players to ensure that they were coping with the changed circumstances. Regular video meetings were set up while the youngsters had the chance to chat to first-team stars Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay about their careers and the paths they took from the club's academy to the senior squad.
With the season over, United sent a gift of a football, a pump and a signed Bryan Robson card (pictured below) out to around 180 children from the club's academy, with a further 166 set to be sent to those on the emerging talent programme in the coming days.
All players from the club's Under-8s to their U16s also received a letter praising their attitude and commitment while encouraging them to take some time off over the summer months.
“I’m sure it has been a challenging time for you and your families. You will have had to adapt to a new way of living, create new routines, take care of vulnerable family members, cope with new and ever changing information in the media and also keep up to speed with the deadlines and work set by your school,” the letter read.
“From the perspective of the academy and its staff we have been overwhelmed with how you have all faced up to the challenge; shown a positive attitude and kept smiling, got creative, looked out for other people, shown bravery and demonstrated kindness.”
The letter, which has been praised by family members of the players, continues by encouraging the boys to enjoy things they may not ordinarily, such as eating different foods and sweets as well as having a lie-in until lunch time.
Changes have been made at United's academy over the past number of years, with Nick Cox having been appointed as the club's head of academy last year.
Cox told Goal in April that while the main outcome is to produce talent for the first team, the Red Devils have a responsibility to look after the young players and ensure they are well-rounded, educated individuals. That sentiment was echoed in the letter which was sent out to the young players.
“What the last eight weeks has reminded the academy staff is that it’s so easy for us to get focused on passing drills, feedback meetings, signing registration forms, measuring your height, retain and release decisions, selecting tour squads… that we can lose track of how lucky we are to be surrounded by an amazing group of talented individuals,” the letter continued.
“Not just talented players but talented people. Children who can speak languages, write poetry, carry out research, draw, paint, play music, look after their gran, keep fit, make videos, write letters, help their parents around the house, cook a meal, bake a cake, design their own training sessions and invent new skills.
"Academies don’t measure this stuff. But it is these things who make you who you are, and ultimately it will be these things that make you successful in life.”