Sir Alex Ferguson rarely makes mistakes when he lets youngsters go so, as Paul Pogba flutters his eyelashes at Juventus and prepares to leave Old Trafford, United fans needn't worry. If a player doesn't want to be at the club, Fergie will no doubt say good riddance and concentrate on developing two more midfield gems, in the shape of Larnell Cole and Ryan Tunnicliffe, who arguably are the real stars of the 2011 FA Youth Cup-winning side. These English lads are poised to make the step up that the Frenchman could never manage.
Name: Larnell Cole
Date of birth: 09/03/1993 (age 18 at time of writing)
International honours: Four under-19 England caps
Compared to: Shaun Wright-Phillips
While most attention was focussed on Pogba when he made his debut against Leeds United in the Carling Cup this season, another potential star in the making was making his first team bow for the Red Devils. Cole made an eye catching debut off the bench and is now on the fringes of the senior squad.
While Red Devils fans may despair at the comparison to SWP, they shouldn't forget just how much potential the QPR winger had years ago. Cole is already believed to be just as good as the England player and, unlike Wright-Phillips, he is in the perfect place to have his talent nurtured.
Superb at taking on opponents, Cole was key to United's 2011 Youth Cup success, scoring a penalty and setting up Ravel Morrison in the 3–2 quarter-final win against Liverpool.
The silky winger is capable of moments of brilliance, but unlike many talented youngsters he is selfless and has proven his determination to improve his defensive work by filling in at full-back for the reserves and youth sides. His impressive performances have seen him claim a place in the England under-19 squad, his first involvement at any level for the Three Lions.
“He's an excellent all-round footballer. He can play wide right, central midfield and probably other positions too. He's just someone who's supremely confident on the ball, capable of scoring and making chances.”
And doesn't the 'ginger ninja' know it - just look at him getting upstaged by a young Cole…
Name: Ryan Tunnicliffe
Position: Central midfielder
Date of birth: 30/12/1992 (Age 19 at time of writing)
International honours: 10 under-17 England caps and four goals
Compared to: Steven Gerrard and Roy Keane
While Ravel Morrison and Pogba haven stolen the headlines recently. Tunnicliffe was the real star of the 2011 youth side. The 19-year-old received the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award, emulating the likes of Ryan Giggs, Danny Welbeck and Paul Scholes in claiming a prize given to the cream of United's famed youth academy.
A ferocious competitor, Tunnicliffe also starred for the reserve side in the 2010/11 season and was rewarded for a brilliant year with a call up to the England under-19 squad for a game against Germany. Unfortunately, the promising youngster had to withdraw with an injury, but his chance will surely come.
Pogba may have managed to make his debut at Manchester United, but Tunnicliffe has gained far more experience of the English leagues, having spent this season on loan at Peterborough. Just as David Beckham cut his teeth at Preston North End, Tunnicliffe has done similarly under the watchful eye of Fergie's son, Darren. The aggressive midfielder has racked up 30 appearances in the Championship for the Posh, which is far more valuable experience than kicking his heels in the reserves.
“Ryan Tunnicliffe was sensational in midfield every time I saw him.”