Last updated : 26 January 2003 By Editor
Manchester United saved at least £20million when David Beckham, Paul Scholes and other top players were emerging through the club's youth set-up, according to Sir Alex Ferguson.

'It's difficult to assess, but you can't put an estimate below £20million. It would have to be above that. That's a safe prediction.'

Ferguson wasn't pleased with the club's youth development programme when he took over in l986.

He added: 'We changed things around. We were scouting everywhere and trialling consistently to get the best young players and we struck gold.

'We struck gold with that group of players. There were some players who were trialled at that time who play in the Premiership at the moment. But we didn't take them because we were happy with the group we selected.

'You can't take them all. It's impossible, but we were satisfied the group we took on was exceptionally good.

'Some young players went on to have careers at other clubs. Robbie Savage has done very well and one or two unfortunately got injured. There was Chris Casper, who had a leg break, and Ben Thornley.'

'You get one or two players coming through. You look at them, watch how they transport themselves on the playing field and how they do in their ordinary life and say to yourself `he's well brought up'.

'You can see that very easily with young players and on the football field you see the character. That group had it. There's no doubt about that. They were all winners.'

David Sadler in the MEN thinks it's time a home grown player should be player of the year.

Manchester United haven't had a homegrown local winning a major player of the year honour but I'd like to think that might change this season.
However, I think it could be time for someone like Paul Scholes and Gary Neville to be recognised. I am quite certain that Scholesy will be on the shortlist for the PFA Player of the Year award and the football writers' Footballer of the Year honour.

It will take a monumental effort from someone else in the Old Trafford camp to dislodge Scholesy as the top Red this term. I am sure both his fellow professionals and the journalists will have him as a contender when they consider their votes in a few months.

I also believe Gary Neville should be gate crashing the voting.

I know Scholes has got all the headlines for his massive role in putting United into the Worthington Cup final, and it was justly deserved, but I think Gary ran him a very close second for man of the match at Ewood Park. Gary had that one blip against Manchester City at Maine Road and that kind of match can wreck players.

But Gary is a great character and I think he has shown great mental toughness to fight back from that. Journalists do tend to come down on the side of the more flamboyant headline hitters for their Footballer of the Year but I think the players will recognise what Gary Neville has done this season.