United's academy's incredible record
People can get a little sick of stats in football some times, understandably. It gets to the stage where the numbers seem to suck all sense of spontaneous joy from the game.
With that in mind, here’s one that's a little different to the usual OPTA stuff, and one that should impress - Manchester United have had a graduate from their youth system in every single match day squad since October 30, 1937. That’s 75 years, or 3,623 consecutive games.
And, if that wasn’t impressive enough, up until 2011 there was a player from the youth system in every single starting XI for 73 years. However, on May 1, 2011 John O'Shea started the game on the bench against Arsenal.
Two historians, Tony Park and Steve Hobin, have written and researched an exhaustive history of the United youth academy – Sons of United.
From the Busby babes through the mid to late nineties years of Fergie’s fledglings and on to the current generation of Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverly there has never been a time in 75 years that the United first team hasn’t been driven by some homegrown talent. Perhaps the most impressive feat in that period is making it through the Premier League era with their run intact, as the practice of producing and fielding home-grown players becomes less and less a part of football at the top level.
That period includes 17 league titles, 3 European Cups and 10 FA Cups. Not bad.