Thursday, August 25, 2011


The emergence of yet another new team at Manchester United may fuel the argument over just how Sir Alex Ferguson stays one step ahead of his rivals. But it settles another debate.

Graham Taylor writes of the future of Manchester United, as well as the potential for the English national team.

It shows England do have talent – and Fabio Capello should not be afraid to use it.

England’s defence for the Euro 2012 qualifiers with Bulgaria and Wales looks likely to be depleted, with Rio Ferdinand and Glen Johnson both set to be absent. But, in Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, there are two Manchester United youngsters who could represent England’s future.

Neither has played for the senior team yet and Jones has already been chosen for the imminent Under-21 games. But that would not worry me long term.

And you could add Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck, whose careful nurturing bears testament to Sir Alex’s innate ability to bring talent through at just the right time.

When you see Jones, just five minutes into his Old Trafford debut on Monday, shouting at his team-mates, organising players and puffing out his chest, you know you have some player.

Sir Alex deserves enormous credit for the manner in which he signed Jones from Blackburn and Smalling from Fulham before that. The season had barely ended when Jones arrived at United. Contrast that with the situation Arsenal and Arsene Wenger find themselves in.

The other point that springs to mind is the price United paid for Jones, because £16.5SHrS million looks a steal compared to some of the transfer dealings that have taken place. For all the money that is spent by clubs, arguably one of the most important slices should be reserved for getting recruitment right. Here United are ahead of the game.

The signing of Javier Hernandez last summer tells you that abroad as well as domestically, Sir Alex has the right people scouring for talent.

Regardless of what is riding on the game, I would have had no hesitation in picking Jones to partner John Terry against Bulgaria and asking Smalling to play at right-back.

The season may be in its infancy, but this pair really inspire confidence.

Ron Greenwood once picked seven Liverpool players for an international in 1977 and England could have a bunch of players making waves at United featuring in Sofia a week on Friday.

Wayne Rooney – and I really do believe that the success of his hair transplant has given him confidence – and Ashley Young look certain to start. And Welbeck and Cleverley are interesting players.

Welbeck is going to join Jones in the U21s and he looks full of confidence. Cleveley is a player I know from his loan spell at Watford and he possesses that rare quality of knowing what pass he is going to make long before the ball arrives at his feet.

He has already played around 75 league games given his loan spells and Welbeck, at 20, is not far short of 50 senior appearances.

They will not all play for England at once – yet. Whether Sir Alex would like to see that is another debate, but he will always have the interests of United at heart.

But Fabio must fight his corner and he will be intrigued by the fact that there is, after all, talent out there.

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