Really interesting comments from Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal about his young English stars playing in the European Under 21 Championships this summer.
The Manchester United boss wants Luke Shaw, Phil Jones and other United youngsters to be picked in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the finals in the Czech Republic at the end of the season believing it will help further their careers.
‘That tournament is a very good education and I said that as the coach of the Dutch national team as well,’ said Van Gaal.
My defenders at the World Cup (who reached the semi-finals) Stefan de Vrij, Bruno Martins Indi, Daley Blind had all played in the European Under 21 championship. It’s a good experience not many players have.’
Van Gaal has a different take on this type of competitions due to his national team experience. That puts him at odds with fellow Premier League bosses like Roberto Martinez and Arsene Wenger who don’t want their young stars to play.
Following England’s qualification last week for the finals, Martinez questioned why England should call up his young star at Everton Ross Barkley for the tournament while Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has regularly opposed full internationals like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere dropping back into the u-21s.
Van Gaal has five United players in contention for the finals; Shaw who played in the play-off win against Croatia, Jones, brothers Michael and Will Keane, and Tyler Blackett and the United boss doesn’t see any problem with young players extending their season.
‘I don’t think it is even a question or worth having a discussion. But that’s my view because I think all the players want to play.
‘For me as a trainer-coach of a club, I am very happy that Shaw is playing with the Under 21s. He played for the Under 21s while (Adnan) Januzaj was on the bench for the Belgium senior team. That is not a benefit for him, it was a two-week holiday.
‘He would have been better at the Under 21s. I think youngsters have to play. When they are free, they need to play. Shaw was also happy to be with the Under 21s as he needs match rhythm.
‘So it was good for everyone – the national Under 21 team, for me and for Luke.’
If more Premier League manager follow LVG’s lead that would be huge boost for Southgate who went to the last Under 21s final under Stuart Pearce in Israel without 17 eligible players and failed to qualify from their group.
Shaw went to the last World Cup in Hodgson’s squad but would happily play for the junior team to try and help England win their first under-21s title since 1984.
Raheem Sterling, Wilshere, Jones, John Stones, Ross Barkley and Oxlade-Chamberlain are also young enough to be eligible but van Gaal accepts you shouldn’t force individual players to go if they themselves think they are fatigued.
‘Not every player is the same and I, as a manager, have to know that. Some players are too tired to play so the managers and the medical departments or the club and federation have to communicate better,’ he said.