The FA Youth Cup is a tournament which has a long and storied history at Manchester United.
Be it the Class of ’92 taking their first steps into the world of silverware that would later await them at senior level, or Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo wowing the world two years ago, The FA Youth Cup is special.
As United kick off their campaign in the tournament this year, manager Erik ten Hag spoke to MUTV for his thoughts on the same.
United play Derby County at Old Trafford on Tuesday with the kick-off at 19.00 PM GMT.
The manager said that the knockout nature of the tournament raises the stakes and enables the youngsters to experience that “can’t lose” mentality needed at the club.
He said: “It’s very important for the development of the players to play in occasions where you get challenged and, in a cup, it’s always about do or die.
“So under such strong expectations, you have to perform as a team and as an individual and especially in youth development, it’s about the individual development of the player by the end of that day.
“So they are challenged and they are getting an opportunity to show how far [along] they are.”
He talked about the talents that have emerged from this tournament, mainly Mainoo, Garnacho, and Dan Gore.
Ten Hag credited the academy and said that as long as players there work hard, there will always be a path to the first team.
He said: “Even in this club, where expectations are high, where levels are set in a high standard, [it shows] that you are capable to get through.
“If you do the right things, if you work very hard every day, and also, away from football, that your life is in the right direction, it goes in the right approach.
“When you do that, then you can deserve here opportunities to flow into the first team.”
Ten Hag has stayed true to his word, starting Mainoo against Liverpool at Anfield and expertly managing the rise of Garnacho.
Talents like Shea Lacey, Jayce Fitzgerald, and Victor Musa are some of the players to keep an eye out for this year’s tournament.