Football

'United have lost their way'

Former assistant manager Phelan laments club's lack of faith in youth with the sale of Welbeck

Manchester United have been renowned in the past for their production line of world-class talent such as David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers.

But, with splashing the cash on Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao and offloading homegrown talent Danny Welbeck to Premier League rivals Arsenal, the club have lost their identity.

Former United assistant manager Mike Phelan, Sir Alex Ferguson's right-hand man at Old Trafford between 2008 and 2013, has hit out at the club's lack of faith in their famed youth system.

"Interesting how things have changed at Manchester United now. A good young kid (Welbeck) coming through part of the academy system - and they've finally decided now that might not be the way to go so they've moved him on," Phelan told BBC Radio yesterday.

"Obviously, there is more and more money now in the game, looking further and further afield for players, but probably they have lost the way of Manchester United a little bit in the fact that now rather than produce it may be the case where they're buying in.

"One of the issues of the Premier League at the moment, and with English football at the moment, is getting them on to the football field, promoting them that way and waiting for those opportunities, providing the time and that hasn't happened."

Phelan said United's spending spree - surpassing £150 million ($311m) with a British transfer record of £59.7m paid for di Maria - reflected a philosophy of wanting instant success under Louis van Gaal after the former champions stagnated under Ferguson's successor David Moyes.

"It's success now, and not later," said Phelan.

"In Danny's case. He's had a good run at it, he's come through the system… there's other kids there now in the system who will hopefully get a chance but there's been a lot of cash splashed out in the transfer window and I'm sure that will only get worse."

Meanwhile, United had to work late into Monday night to finalise the signing of Falcao but eventually completed a season-long loan for the Colombian (above).

United will pay Monaco between £5m and £6m for Falcao and will cover his wages, although they insist reports they will pay the 28-year-old almost £350,000 a week are wide of the mark.

The delay on confirming a deal which had been in the pipeline all day sparked rumours Falcao had failed a medical on the serious knee injury which kept him out of the World Cup, but United insisted throughout that was not true.

"I am delighted Radamel has joined us on loan this season," said United manager van Gaal.

"He is one of the most prolific scorers in the game.

"His appearance-to-goal ratio speaks for itself and, when a player of this calibre becomes available, it is an opportunity not to be missed."

In his first interview as a United player, Falcao told MUTV that it was a dream come true for him to play in the Premier League and predicted a "great" season for the new-look Red Devils.

"It was a very long day. It was hard, difficult. We were waiting until the last minute, but I didn't lose my faith. Now I want to say thank you to God for this. I'm very happy," said the Colombian.

"We have very top players. I admire them. I want to meet them for the first time. I am sure that this season will be great for us."

Former United star Cristiano Ronaldo hailed Falcao's loan switch to the Red Devils as a "fantastic buy".

Ronaldo, speaking at a TAG Heuer event in Madrid on Monday, said: "He is very good player.

"United did very well. I don't think he is the wrong type of player. He is a top player so I don't think it is a wrong buy.

"He will be a fantastic buy. United have not started well, two points, so they need quality players and Falcao is a quality player." 
- Wire Services.