Brian McClair, who left the post of Head of Academy at Manchester United in 2015 for a role with the Scottish FA, has spoken about the careers of Jesse Lingard and Scott McTominay.
No one would have taken Jesse Lingard when he was 16 because he had the skeletal age of a 13-year-old. We allowed him to take that opportunity. Scott McTominay had all sorts of problems with his growth. He was growing too fast and his body had to catch up and he missed time through injury. You support them in a different way. At one point we decided to tell him he has got an extra year because he’s fretting about it all the time.
Jesse was one of the best players all the way through in each age group. He was brave. You just have to wait for them. They are always going to grow, you just don’t know when. They have all the other attributes. The biggest thing is to be patient with them. You have to be. They are going through all sorts of stuff.
A few have a stellar rise later but you can ask who were the best players in the youngest age groups and the coaches will say Marcus, McTominay, Jesse – even at seven or eight. We had to believe that would continue. The biggest challenge for any young boy is getting through puberty: looking at themselves in the mirror, styling their hair, putting smelly stuff on and noticing girls. If they get through that and still love football they have a chance.