Paul McGuinness, Manchester United’s U-18 coach, has announced that he is leaving the club today. While the U-21 side are flying high, going top of the table after beating Manchester City last night, the younger teams are having a terrible time.
The U-18s have lost their last 12 league games on the trot, often not having enough players of their age group to play, and relying on U-16 players to make up the numbers.
McGuinness, the son of Wilf, a Busby Babes, played for United’s youth team himself. He later played for Crewe Alexandra and Bury, before returning to the club as a coach.
However, since Brian McClair left the club a year ago, his role of director of United’s youth academy has been vacant. It’s probably no surprise that McGuinness has had enough, although there are some rumours that he has been sacked. Either way, his parting statement doesn’t let on of any ill-feeling.
It has been an honour and a privilege to follow in my father Wilf’s footsteps and to serve Manchester United in a variety of roles for a total of 28 years. I have dedicated my life to each job, from player to education and welfare officer, to Centre of Excellence director and scout, assistant academy director for under-9s to under-16s and later under-17s to under-21s, head coach for the professional development phase and finally youth-team coach.
I will be forever grateful to Sir Alex Ferguson for making my dreams come true and inviting me to represent Manchester United as a player and for the last 23 years as a proud member of staff. I have learned a great deal by working with Sir Alex and so many special Manchester United people over the years, especially my mentors Eric Harrison, Jim Ryan and Tony Whelan.
I have so many incredible memories, particularly the FA Youth Cup win in 2011 and being asked to be part of the Munich memorial service in 2008, but I have especially enjoyed working behind the scenes with devoted colleagues, nurturing and coaching young players to reach their potential.
To have seen 86 Academy players develop to make their debut for the first team and 23 to become full internationals has been thoroughly rewarding. I now have other ambitions I would like to fulfil in football that I can only experience outside the club. I am extremely grateful to all the staff at Carrington and Old Trafford for their friendship and professionalism over the years. Many thanks also to all the United supporters from all over the world – especially the incredibly dedicated followers of the Under-18 and youth teams.
Finally, I would like to wish good luck for the future to Louis van Gaal, Ryan Giggs, the first team and all the players and staff at the Academy.