City Ceo Garry Cook and Academy chief Jim Cassell have moved to allay fears that the arrival of big money signings this summer will make the youth production line redundant.
International stars Gareth Barry and Roque Santa Cruz have already come through the door this summer but that doesn’t mean that there will be no new kids on the block this season.
“Far from it,” asserted Cook. “The current first team coaching staff is very supportive of the Academy. Throughout last season the manager fielded a very strong core of Academy produced players including Nedum Onuoha, Micah Richards, and most notably our player of the year Stephen Ireland.
"Academy graduates have featured on the bench including Vladimir, Ben Mee, Adam Clayton, and Shaleum Logan.
“Obviously, Shaun Wright-Phillips, another Academy graduate, has also made an exciting return to the club. The under 21 European Championships showcased how talented some of our young players are.”
“If a player is good enough he will always be in contention. To challenge for honours we need a squad big enough to cope with the demands of the modern game and for that you need a blend of Academy players, combined with the purchase of developing talent and also established names those which are sometimes described as ‘marquee signings’.”
“Any club that is rebuilding like we are generates concerns on the Academy front but we have the kids close to our heart and we will not let our Academy go off track.
“To be contending a top four club you need players who are experienced at playing at the highest level, and internationals and Academy players. If we go into the season with our plans in tact we will have more than 30% of the playing squad registered for the Premier League who have come through as home grown players.
“I think that shows what Jim has built over ten years. We add players with the intent to help develop our young players. Jim has always talked about the huge chasm between playing at youth level and then in the Premier League.
The owners are fully committed to the continued support and development of the Academy. A huge amount of investment has already been made in that area in terms of structural changes.
“The chairman has stated repeatedly his absolute commitment to both youth development and the Manchester community with both being at the heart of everything that the club continues to do. The role of the Academy will not be diminished in any way by either player recruitment or the development of international academies.
Cassell, who is to head a new department that will set up and run overseas Academies beginning in Abu Dhabi this December, concurred fully with Cook’s vision.
“Of course the young lads coming in can still find their way to the first team, this year’s player of the season – Stevie Ireland – came through the ranks and what better advert could you have than that.
“The challenge is there for them as it is for all of us. What we have got now is the chance for our local products to progress and play with and against the best in the world and that is great incentive.
“Our job is to produce footballers who perform to the best of their ability and who go on to have careers hopefully in City’s first team. This season we will see Stevie Jordan, Glenn Whelan, Tyrone Mears and Dickson Etuhu all playing in the Premier League who began with us.
“What we are looking to do is produce the magical few for Mark Hughes, the real stars, but the others will have good careers. The challenge is not daunting it is another great opportunity to reach the top level of their profession.
“The attraction of the role I am about to undertake with the international academies is that I have to come out of my comfort zone and if you want to go into the top echelon of the game that is what you have to do whether you are player, a coach or an Academy chief.”