In response to Mike Phelan’s claims that Manchester United had “lost their way” following the sale of Danny Welbeck, Jason Burt wrote for The Telegraph about United’s history of youth team players. He claimed “it is a myth that United have always had a team overbrimming with local players and youth team products”. Whilst we would have to agree that the Class of 92 was a “freak of nature”, that doesn’t negate the fact that United’s squads since the 1990s have still contained plenty of former academy players.

Several players from the Class of 92 were sold on or became too old to play regularly, yet United managed to find other products of our youth system to fill the gaps.

Whilst the academies at clubs likes West Ham and Southampton have been praised over the years, it is important to note that it is incredibly rare for a team in the top three, as United had been for two decades before last season, to find time to give their own players a chance. Patience is a quality that is lacking in football these days yet Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United have managed to find some when managing our youngsters.

It comes as no surprise that United completely outshine other Premier League winning teams when it comes to how many former academy players have represented the club in the league. It is a fact, rather than a “myth”, that United have excelled in producing their own players, particularly in comparison to all the other best teams in this country over the past 20+ years.

Here are the stats for former academy players at other clubs in the season they last won the title. As the cup competitions have often been used to give young players a chance to prove themselves, particularly at United, the appearance stats are taken solely from league games.

Arsenal – 2003-04
Appearances: 76
Average former academy players per game: 2
Total former academy players used: 6
Ashley Cole, Martin Keown, Ray Parlour, Jeremie Aliadiere, David Bentley, Justin Hoyte

Chelsea – 2009-10
Appearances: 57
Average former academy players per game: 1.5
Total former academy players used: 6
John Terry, Sam Hutchinson, Jeffrey Bruma, Gael Kakuta, Fabio Borini, Patrick van Aanholt.

Blackburn – 1994-95
Appearances: 27
Average former academy players per game: 0.71
Total former academy players used: 1
Jason Wilcox

Manchester City – 2013-14
Appearances: 3
Average former academy players per game: 0.08
Total former academy players used: 2
Micah Richards, Dedryk Boyata

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