Manchester United Fans Keen That Januzaj Doesn't Follow Pogba and Morrison

Rob Dawson@@RobDawsonMENManchester United CorrespondentOctober 10, 2013

TURIN, ITALY - OCTOBER 06:  Paul Pogba of Juventus in action during the Serie A match between Juventus FC and AC Milan at Juventus Arena on October 6, 2013 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)
Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Like seeing an ex enjoy themselves with a new partner, Manchester United fans are finding it hard watching their former youth team players flourish elsewhere.

Paul Pogba, Ravel Morrison and, to a lesser extent, Zeki Fryers are fulfilling their early promise away from Old Trafford.

The fear for supporters now is that Adnan Januzaj, out of contract at the end of the season, is destined to do the same.

This never used to happen. There was a time when the most famous player never to make it at Old Trafford was Robbie Savage.

Not anymore.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 06:  Ravel Morrison of West Ham in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United at White Hart Lane on October 6, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Pogba, much to Patrice Evra's annoyance, is a regular at Juventus, the Serie A champions last season, and has broken into the France squad.

Morrison is making a name for himself in the Premier League with West Ham and has been called up into the England Under-21 squad.

Fryers, at Tottenham after a brief spell in Belgium with Standard Liege, has made appearances in the Europa League and Capital One Cup this season.

David Moyes is refusing to panic about the prospect of losing Januzaj at the end of the season. But it won't stop United fans from thinking the worst until he signs a new long-term deal.

Pogba, Morrison and Fryers, members of the United squad that won the FA Youth Cup in 2011, all left for different reasons.

SWINDON, ENGLAND - JULY 16:   Zeki Fryers of Tottenham Hotspur in action during the pre season friendly between Tottenham Hotspur and Swindon Town at  the County Ground on July 16, 2013 in Swindon, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Pogba felt he wasn't being given enough first-team opportunities. Fryers felt he was deserving of a larger pay packet. Morrison's situation is more complicated, and perhaps the off-field problems that sped up his exit made it almost impossible for him to make the breakthrough in Manchester. Cut off from those distractions, he's finally finding his feet in London.

It's a worrying trend. But it's something supporters might have to get used to.

United's scouting network stretches so far that it can attract young players from all over the world.

This season they've got youngsters from Scotland, Wales and Ireland in their youth ranks, as well as Belgium, Italy and Portugal.

But the downside of signing players from all over the world is that they can often be susceptible to offers from other clubs because they don't have a strong affiliation to United.

They want to make as a footballer, but not necessarily at United. In their eyes, Real Madrid, Juventus, Arsenal or Manchester City are just as good.

Twenty years ago, when the class of '92 were graduating, that wasn't a problem.

Even for those who are desperate to make the breakthrough at United, it's extremely tough. It's a club that has the resources to fill a void in the squad with a new £30 million signing.

And it can demoralising for a youth team player on the fringes to see an established superstar arrive in their position.

Morrison, still only 20 years old, scored a wonderful individual goal against Tottenham last weekend. It was a run and finish brimming with all the qualities that impressed the staff at United.

But would he have been in Moyes' squad at the weekend to score that goal for United?

With Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Anderson, Ryan Giggs and Marouane Fellaini ahead of him, the answer is probably not.

The cream of United's youth system will always rise to the top.

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 05:  David Moyes of Manchester United talks with Adnan Januzaj after victory in the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Manchester United at Stadium of Light on October 5, 2013 in Sunderland, England.  (Photo
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The evidence is there in the squad with academy graduates Jonny Evans, Danny Welbeck, Will Keane, Michael Keane, Cleverley and Januzaj.

But making the step up takes time.

And when the youngsters don't want to wait for their chance, and with the lure of big wages on offer elsewhere, there may be a few more Pogbas, and Morrisons in United's future. The scary thing for United is that when a promising youth team player has his head turned by opportunities or wealth, there's little they can do.

All Moyes can do now is make sure man-of-the-moment Januzaj is not the latest one to get away.


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