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Football Reporting


5 stars Nicky Butt helped shape at Man Utd as club legend leaves Old Trafford role

Nicky Butt has stepped down as the Manchester United’s head of first-team development to pursue “a new professional challenge”.

Butt has spent nine years in coaching and player development positions at the club’s academy, playing a key role in overseeing the progress of several first-team stars.

But the former midfielder, who made 387 appearances during his time as a player at Old Trafford, has now departed for pastures new.

And, while Butt may have avoided the limelight during his coaching and player development roles in United’s academy, he certainly leaves the club with a respectable reputation.

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Indeed, there are a host of players who have come through the ranks at Old Trafford to become an integral part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans.

Here, Mirror Sport takes a look at five stars he helped transition from youth-team players to first-team stars…

Former Man Utd midfielder Nicky Butt is to step down as the club's head of first-team development
Former Man Utd midfielder Nicky Butt is to step down as the club’s head of first-team development

Marcus Rashford

Rashford exploded onto the scene when he made his Manchester United debut against FC Midtjylland five years ago.

Anthony Martial was injured in the warm-up which led to Louis van Gaal turning to his bench at the last moment.

An 18-year-old Rashford was staring back at him, most likely bemused by the fact that he was thrust into the limelight with no prior warning.

But did that hold him back? Not at all. If anything, it spurred him on. After 60 minutes, Juan Mata pulled one back for Rashford to score a tap-in and 15 minutes later, he had his second.

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Since then, the England superstar, now 23, has gone on to make 259 appearances for United, scoring 85 goals; a goalscoring tally which has earned him hero status at Old Trafford.

Marcus Rashford is now a superstar at Manchester United
Marcus Rashford is now a superstar at Manchester United

Scott McTominay

McTominay, 24, has by no means had an easy journey at United – but he’s now reaping the rewards.

The Scotland international first broke into the starting XI under Jose Mourinho and went on to become a familiar face in the United first-team.

However his future was thrown into doubt when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced Mourinho and he was on the brink of joining Celtic on loan during the 2019/20 season.

But an injury to Paul Pogba, plus a shortage of cover in midfield, handed McTominay an extended spell in the starting XI and he seemingly hasn’t looked back.

He has now become an integral part of Solskjaer’s first-team plans and was even handed the captain’s armband for the FA Cup win over Watford this season.

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Scott McTominay captained Manchester United in the FA Cup this season
Scott McTominay captained Manchester United in the FA Cup this season

Dean Henderson

Henderson is another player who, having impressed in the youth ranks, was forced to go out on loan to prove his worth.

In fact, the goalkeeper was shipped out to four clubs – namely Stockport County, Grimsby, Shrewsbury Town and Sheffield United – before getting his shot at glory in United colours.

It was at the Blades, where he spent two successful loan spells, where he was able to make a name for himself; performances which ultimately saw him break into the England fold too.

The 24-year-old had spent much of the season playing second fiddle to David de Gea but has recently enjoyed a run in the first-team after Solskjaer’s No.1 returned home to Spain following the birth of his child.

Henderson has done his chances no harm, producing a string of fine performances to help United remain on track for a respectable second-placed finish in the Premier League.

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Dean Henderson has recently enjoyed a run in the Man Utd first-team
Dean Henderson has recently enjoyed a run in the Man Utd first-team

Mason Greenwood

Greenwood is widely regarded as one of English football’s hottest prospects – and it’s easy to see why.

The 19-year-old academy graduate has been with the club since the age of seven and gone on to make 92 first-team appearances, scoring 22 goals in all competitions.

His remarkable rise was rewarded last month with a new contract, which will keep him at Old Trafford until at least 2025 and with the option to extend by a further year.

The teenager has enjoyed a rapid rise through the ranks and, after featuring consistently under Solskjaer last season, has become an integral member of the first-team set-up this campaign.

This season’s goalscoring tally could arguably be improved, with just one top-flight goal so far, but his attacking intent leaves defenders petrified – and he’s only going to get better.

Mason Greenwood is now an integral member of the Man Utd squad
Mason Greenwood is now an integral member of the Man Utd squad

Axel Tuanzebe

It’s easy to forget that Tuanzebe is still only 23 years old, given he was first involved in a first-team squad all the way back in 2015.

The defender had to wait for almost two years before making his debut – an FA Cup clash with Wigan – and has been on the periphery of the first-team squad ever since.

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Impressive loan spells with Aston Villa, in which he helped the Midlands club secure Premier League promotion, allowed him to prove his worth to the Old Trafford hierarchy.

And when given the chance, he has shown his class. A standout moment this season was a stunning performance against PSG, in which the defend had Kylian Mbappe and Co in his back pocket.

Injuries have hindered his progress, with just 32 appearances to his name, but there’s plenty of time for the young centre-back to stake a claim for a regular first-team spot.

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