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Manchester United look to return to youth under Erik Ten Hag

Even in the midst of their current troubles, placed sixth in the league and beaten 4-0 by Liverpool on Tuesday, the club can point to the success of reaching a record 15th FA Youth Cup final — they will face Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford on May 11.

United have not come close to winning the league since Ferguson retired in 2013 and understandably there is a strong desire to recreate the formula for success that the Scotsman found from academy products such as David Beckham and Paul Scholes. But cases of success coming from a single generation of youth team players are extremely rare in the modern game and United would be wise to recall another skill of Ferguson’s — buying young talent from other clubs.

Wayne Rooney was just 18 when Ferguson signed him from Everton, Roy Keane was 21 when he moved to Old Trafford from Nottingham Forest and Rio Ferdinand 23 when he signed from Leeds United.

Though Ten Hag’s Ajax team, now top of the Dutch table, features some home-grown talent, the core of his side has been bought from elsewhere and that is likely to be the path that United go down as they look at a rebuild ahead of next season.

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