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Nicky Butt "Hurt" By How Children As Young As 5 Are Being Treated In Modern Football

Nicky Butt "Hurt" By How Children As Young As 5 Are Being Treated In Modern Football
By Mikey Traynor
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Former Man Utd and Newcastle midfielder Nicky Butt has become a hugely important part of the club with which he made his professional debut as a member of the 'class of 92'.

Now the head of the Manchester United's academy, Butt is tasked with young hopeful football players into the club with the goal of readying them for first team professional football, be that at Old Trafford or elsewhere.

Marcus Rashford is actually the shining example for the young players at the club, but the reality is that the vast majority will fall out of the game and this is something that Butt is all too aware of.

Speaking to ESPN, Butt expressed his disdain for the manner in which children as young as five are being 'trawled into clubs like fish' by many big clubs who then discard them at an age where they are too young to deal with the rejection.

There is a lot of talent knocking about, but it is getting harder and harder because the kids are being picked up at 5, 6, and 7 years old. It's ridiculous the age they are picked up because they are still babies.

The big thing that hurts me is that there are teams out there who cast their net out and trawl them all in like fish, but then dump them without realising they are just kids.

I have lost count of the number of times I have been in environments where kids are in tears because they have been released by a club. These kids are seven and eight years of age and it isn't right.


Unfortunately, while Butt likes nothing about this system, he acknowledged that he faces pressure to secure the most talented players in these young age groups.

That said, he also stressed that he is doing his best to ensure that when players are brought into the club at a young age, they are treated appropriately with the focus on fun first.

But how do I speak to my board when they are asking why we have missed out on this player or that player because I don't think it's right to get kids in so early? We have to do it because it has become such a competitive market.

We get them in and look at them, but do it with a freedom. A lot of parents come to me and my coaches and say they love having their kids at United because we let them play football and be kids.

You can't dictate at that age that kids are a left-back, a right-back or a centre-forward. You just want to give them a ball, let them play and just give them two or three points to go and take home and work at it in the garden.

It's not the first time Nicky Butt has raised his concerns about the way in which young aspiring footballers are chewed up and spat out by the system, but unfortunately it is unlikely that anything is going to change anytime soon.


It will take big clubs agreeing to chance their policies, but when missing out on a talented youngster becomes an issue higher up the food chain, that just won't happen.

You can read Butt's interview in full over on ESPN.

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