Manchester United are reportedly looking to add West Brom’s youth chief Steve Hopcroft to their backroom as part of their youth overhaul.
Manchester United were reported and visibly seen to have fallen behind their neighbours and rivals Manchester City in terms of youth facilities, youth recruitment and development.
This had brought the United hierarchy into action as Ed Woodward looked to revamp the club’s youth system – mainly players and staff – in order to restore the club’s status as arguably the finest academy in England.
The task has been going on with tremendous pace as Manchester United have seen the arrivals of talents like Nishan Burkart, Joshua Bohui and Tahith Chong from around Europe – with the trio being heavily sought-after by the European elites of football.
The main overhaul has seemed to take place in terms of staff as Nicky Butt was made head of the youth development and coaching at the academy. The legendary United midfielder has brought in highly-rated player-turned-coach Kieran McKenna to be the manager of the U18 side at the club.
There have been many other key additions to the backroom but it seems United are not done yet as they are targeting West Brom’s youth chief Steve Hopcroft with an aim to further bolster their youth system.
Hopcroft is highly-regarded as a talent spotter and has worked successfully for Birmingham and West Brom – where he is currently plying his trade having joined from Birmingham eight years ago.
The 49-year-old has been credited to have had a major impact in bringing the likes of Saido Berahino, Isaiah Brown, Jerome Sinclair and Jonathan Leko at West Brom and has also played a major role in their development and rise to the first-team.
While Berahino and others are prominent names at West Brom, the 49-year-old has also had a hand in developing the likes of Sam Field and Kane Wilson – who have also appeared for Tony Pulis’ senior side this season.
Hopcroft has had previous success at Birmingham too as he oversaw the rise of talents like Nathan Redmond and Demarai Gray at the club with the duo now plying their trade in the first-team squads at top-half Premier League sides in Southampton and defending Premier League champions Leicester City respectively.
The status of the deal also appears to be unclear, while ESPN have stated that United are planning a swoop for the talent spotter, Daily Mirror have claimed that the Red Devils have already secured the services of Hopcroft with the 49-year-old taking over as the head of youth recruitment, a job that was left vacant by Derek Langley two months ago.
It would be interesting to see the development of Manchester United’s youth squad in the near future with the new focus on supplying players with enough talent to challenge for a place in the first-team squad at Manchester United, something which as a norm under Sir Alex Ferguson and something which Jose Mourinho has taken up as a priority for the club.