Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal is delighted to have handed a number of youth team players an opportunity to play with the senior squad in the 2015/16 campaign, but is aware that they will not provide consistent performances like the senior players. The Dutch manager has made it clear that they will not have a place in the team if they cannot perform at a similar level on a regular basis despite helping United get back into form in recent weeks.
The former Bayern Munich and Barcelona manager has made a reputation of bringing through young talent from the youth set up to the first team at his previous clubs and has continued doing so at United. He has handed 14 players their debut since arriving at the start of the 2014/15 campaign, including seven, who have been given an opportunity this campaign.
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Guillermo Varela, James Weir, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Donald Love and most recently Marcus Rashford among others have come into the first-team owing to injuries to senior players, which has crippled the team during the course of the season. The latter of the five mentioned has made the biggest impact since getting an opportunity to start a game due to Anthony Martial's injury against FC Midtjylland in the Europa League. Rashford has featured in three games due to some impressive performances, including scoring a brace against Arsenal on his Premier League debut.
The Red Devils were coming into the second-leg clash against Midtjylland on the back of losses to Sunderland in the Premier League, which saw the pressure on the manager intensifying. But the striker's emergence along with the rest of the squad performing at a higher level has seen them win four games on the trot in all competitions since.
There were suggestions that Rashford had saved Van Gaal's job at the club, but the manager has dismissed such allegations by crediting his and the club's policy to promote youth for the reason the 18-year-old striker got an opportunity to showcase his skills.
The Dutch manager understands that playing youth team players is not conducive to winning major trophies due to their lack of consistency, however, he is satisfied that the current crop have proven to be worthy competitors, as United are still fighting for silverware in the Europa League and FA Cup, and are within touching distance of the Premier League top four.
"Now I have read that Rashford is saving me. No. Rashford is thanks to my policy and the club, of course, has proved that. He is there because of that – and the same thing for Borthwick-Jackson, Varela, and a lot of other players. But they have to prove it because it is very risky to do that. Youngsters are not consistent; we are talking about consistency," Van Gaal said, as quoted by the Guardian.
"There are of course exceptions like Anthony Martial but that is a big exception. Most of the players cannot show that every week, so it is a big risk but, at the end, we are in three competitions still and the team has more spirit and the older players are coming back," the Red Devils boss explained.
"So we have a great momentum at this moment because we have discovered that a lot of players can play at this level and the older players have to compete with these youngsters. And it's fantastic, and that is also what I have experienced at my other teams, so I think it's always good to have youngsters in your selection."