Tannadice may be a far cry from the riches of Europe’s top leagues but Andy Goldie insists his Dundee United youngsters wouldn’t be out of place in the world’s best academies.
United youth chief Goldie spent time at English giants Manchester United last week, observing their academy set-up as the two clubs build their relationship.
As Courier Sport revealed yesterday, Tangerines kid Kerr Smith spent a week on trial with the Red Devils and Goldie believes the 15-year-old isn’t the only one who could make an impact at that level.
The 35-year-old said: “Our best players at every age group would go into Manchester United, or any big club that I’ve had the joy of watching, no problem at all and be one of the top players. I guarantee that.
“In the Additional Games Programme we’re playing against some of the best clubs in the world and our boys more than match the opposition.
“That’s really rewarding and I think we downplay the talent we’ve got in this country quite a lot.
“We put a ceiling on what our young players can achieve but Scottish players in the past have had remarkable success.
“It’s something we need to make sure we instil that confidence and belief to get back there because Dundee United and Scotland can go toe-to-toe with the best players from Spain, Germany, England, Holland, etc.
“We’re actually outplaying them at times so it’s really promising.
“In terms of Man United’s programme, they’ve had roughly 4,000 games in a row where they’ve had an academy graduate in the first-team squad – which is unbelievable.
“That’s fantastic success and, if we can emulate that, it would be an outstanding achievement.”
In terms of how we’re delivering the programme with the resources we’ve got I came away very satisfied that we’re doing something very similar to Manchester United – one of the biggest clubs in the world.”
Goldie was hosted in Manchester by academy chief Nick Cox, through United sporting director Tony Asghar, and was impressed with what he saw at the Premier League facility.
The former SFA coach admits a loan link-up between the clubs could be on the cards amid interest in players from both parties.
“It’s something Tony and I have worked hard on,” Goldie added.
“Tony had previously done a course with Nick Cox, so he put us in touch.
“Over the course of the year we’ve put in best practice from clubs all over the world from San Jose Earthquakes to clubs in South America, down south, all over Europe and the Far East as well.
“We want to bring it all back to Dundee United and, hopefully, the young players and our staff get the benefit of that.
“We have a number of players within our academy that are wanted by clubs down south at the moment.
“As part of that we’ve started building relationships with some of the clubs and Man United invited me down last week from Thursday to Saturday.
“It was a very worthwhile trip. It was just the academy side of things with the current Covid restrictions making it tougher.
“It was mostly observing training, meeting with key staff and watching games but we had several really productive meetings regarding how we can continue to build our relationship.
“It bodes well for us going forward.”
Of a potential link, he continued: “It’s something we spoke about. I don’t think it’s out of the question.
“First and foremost, I think we’ll always do what’s right for our young players and we won’t block any pathways if we feel there’s a player ready to play first-team football.
“We’re not going to bring in someone of a similar age because all it would do is slow down his progression – we always look after our own.
“However, the conversation was had and it’s something we can definitely explore going forward.”
Despite the potential to share talent, Goldie insists the club will continue to look to homegrown stars first, believing what they are doing is every bit as good as Man United.
He continued: “The interesting thing about Man United was the sessions very rarely look any different – a lot of them are quite consistent across the vast majority of the best clubs, ourselves included.
“The thing that stood out was the culture of the club. It’s, obviously, a massive club and rich in history but they’ve still got guys there who’ve been around for years.
“They use a lot of club legends to deliver the programme like John Cooke (veteran academy coach), Dave Bushell (long-time head of education and welfare) and Darren Fletcher.
“It just shows you the family feel around the place. They had Mark Dempsey, one of the first-team coaches, taking an U/16 session alongside Fletcher – it was fantastic to see that.
“It’s something we do at United but it’s an area we can definitely continue to improve.
“There was a lot of crossover between the two – Nick actually said there’s a lot of the stuff we’re doing that he likes and that we’re doing better than they are in certain areas.
“There’s areas where we think we can learn from each other, it’s not just a one-way relationship.
“Of course, the infrastructure and the income and expenditure they’ve got vastly outweighs anything we can do just now.
“But in terms of how we’re delivering the programme with the resources we’ve got I came away very satisfied that we’re doing something very similar to Manchester United – one of the biggest clubs in the world.”