By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Nicky Butt has been appointed the new head of the Manchester United academy, the club have confirmed.
Football Insider reported on Monday that the former Old Trafford midfielder was set to be promoted from head of coaching in the youth team set-up following an extensive review.
Butt has been given overall responsibility for reviving the club’s struggling youth system amid fears it has slipped behind rivals Manchester City as well as the likes of Tottenham and Chelsea.
Announcing the appointment on the United website, director Ed Woodward said: “I am delighted that Nicky has accepted the role of head of academy.
“Nicky has the traditions and heritage of this club in his blood and he is the natural choice to ensure that, in modernising the way the academy operates and shaping the new investment we are making, it retains the values and the focus that it has always had.
“As a graduate of its finest team in the modern era, Nicky will bring passion, energy and experience to drive the academy forward, retaining the characteristics that give us a competitive advantage – namely an unmatched track record of player development together with the runway of first-team action.”
Butt, a member of United’s famed Class of ’92, has taken the job that Brian McClair vacated last year and will oversee a revamp that was kickstarted last Friday with the departure of youth coach Paul McGuinness.
Youth player recruitment chief Derek Langley is also set to leave the club. Football Insider revealed on Friday night that another Class of ’92 graduate Chris Casper is in advanced talks to replace him.
Butt’s task will be to try to restore United’s reputation for nurturing outstanding talent and aim to bridge the gap between the academy and the first team to ensure a steady flow of youngsters into the senior ranks.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) February 16, 2016
Woodward added: “Manchester United’s academy is completely focused on producing young players for our first team.
“In the last four years, some 15 academy graduates have played for the first team, playing a total of 173 appearances – a record of which the club is very proud.”
Former England international Butt, who spent 12 years as a player at United before joining Newcastle, returned to his hometown club in 2012 and has worked in various coaching roles with the junior teams.
His appointment falls in line with the policy at Old Trafford of trying to maintain a link to the club’s roots and traditions.