Woodward favours United 'B' team
Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has claimed the use of a 'B' team in a lower league could be the answer to a lack of competitive football for younger players.
For some years now, United and many of their fellow Premier League big-hitters have concluded the present set-up does not create a competitive environment for players outside the first team.
Even a change from the old reserve sides to the present Under-21 set-up, with the potential for utilising over-age players, has done little to address the problem.
And Woodward thinks the Spanish system, where Real Madrid and Barcelona operate second teams below La Liga level, is an idea worth looking at.
"If we could have a 'B' team playing it would solve a lot of the issues," Woodward told fanzine United We Stand.
"The reserves do deliver some of the objectives, the system just isn't as good as it could be.
"Barcelona and Real Madrid have a competitive edge with their system. Ajax have got it. A team in the division below went bust a year ago. Ajax stepped in and now they are developing their players that way.
"You can look at different models and what Spurs have done with Swindon. You can look at rotating players in the first team.
"There is no clear and obvious answer. If you buy a top 18 year old, they could go straight in with the first team. Or they could go into the squad at number 25 or 26."
The clear issues are the traditional loyalties within the English football system and how fans of a club like Bury, for instance, would take to being reduced to the status of a feeder club.
It is certainly hard to see such a structure being implemented in England, even if Woodward's observations are shared by others at the top end of the game.