Woodward favours "B" team use

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has claimed the use of a 'B' team in a lower league could be the answer to a lack of competitive football for younger players.

Manchester United Chief Executive Edward Woodward

For some years now, United and many of their fellow Premier League big-hitters have concluded the present set-up does not create a competitive environment for players outside the first team.

Even a change from the old reserve sides to the present Under-21 set-up, with the potential for utilising over-age players, has done little to address the problem.

And Woodward thinks the Spanish system, where Real Madrid and Barcelona operate second teams below La Liga level, is an idea worth looking at.

"If we could have a 'B' team playing it would solve a lot of the issues," Woodward told fanzine United We Stand.

"The reserves do deliver some of the objectives, the system just isn't as good as it could be.

"Barcelona and Real Madrid have a competitive edge with their system. Ajax have got it. A team in the division below went bust a year ago. Ajax stepped in and now they are developing their players that way.

"You can look at different models and what Spurs have done with Swindon. You can look at rotating players in the first team.

"There is no clear and obvious answer. If you buy a top 18 year old, they could go straight in with the first team. Or they could go into the squad at number 25 or 26."

The clear issues are the traditional loyalties within the English football system and how fans of a club like Bury, for instance, would take to being reduced to the status of a feeder club.

It is certainly hard to see such a structure being implemented in England, even if Woodward's observations are shared by others at the top end of the game.

At the moment, though, he has enough on his plate at United, given they went into Wednesday's fixture with Everton in an unaccustomed eighth position.

Some feel the Red Devils may even struggle to qualify for next season's Champions League.

However, Woodward remains relaxed about that prospect, insisting United were strong enough to ride out such short-term financial strife.

"If you fight hard and just fail, people will still watch you on television, still turn up and buy shirts," he said.

"There's still a lot of affinity with the club and interest. The reality is that you can't always win.

"Take Liverpool. They still sell an incredible number of shirts and have the second biggest shirt deal in the Premier League.

"They have one of the biggest technical partner deals - and they haven't won the league since 1990. And you can put the last bit underlined and in capitals.

"If we have a bad year we have the financial strength to change the team. We have so much deeper financial strength that instead of selling three players and buying three, we can do five."

And that financial strength also means the naming rights to Old Trafford will never be sold.

"It's important that Old Trafford is Old Trafford," he said. "The Glazers are actually very traditional in their views.

"People have asked us the question, asked us if we would consider (selling the naming rights). We won't."



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