When Manchester United ruled England and Europe during that famous treble winning season in 1998/99, they did so with British and Irish stars running through the team.
Irwin, Beckham, Keane, Scholes, Butt, Giggs, Cole, Sheringham and the Neville brothers. You know them all. So good they became households names and legends to us as United supporters.
You can even take a look at the famed 2007/08 squad that won the Champions League in Moscow. The likes of Neville, Giggs and Scholes were still around then, but boosted by fresh British and Irish talent in the shape of Brown, Ferdinand, O’Shea, Fletcher, Hargreaves, Carrick and Rooney.
It’s a trait that has become a vital part of United’s DNA over the years, dating back to Sir Matt Busby, and after seemingly diverting away from those methods since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson, one thing that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can take real credit for is bringing that ideology back to Old Trafford.
Since taking the job full time, only one of Ole’s four permanent signings has been born outside of the UK, and that is Bruno Fernandes who has proven to been a shrewd signing so far.
The signs are that more could be on the horizon when the next transfer window opens as well, with strong rumors suggesting that both Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish could be making the Theatre of Dreams their new home from next season.
Solskjaer has certainly cemented that into his blueprint as United boss and with Ed Woodward now out of the way on recruitment, he is in prime position to go and execute when the window opens.
It’s not just an idea for the future that Solskjaer is using either, the current crop of Red Devils have Britain running through their blood right now, and although results haven’t been as consistent as we might like, there are signs of us moving in the right direction.
Suring things up at the back needed to be one of Ole’s main priorities when he took over the reins at Old Trafford, and although there is still some work to do, the building blocks are there for all to see.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been one of the best signings post-Fergie for United and optimizes everything that us United fans want to see. He’s strong in the tackle, desperate to win the ball back and is improving on his ability when going forward. Along with our new skipper Harry Maguire, they’ve given us more faith for when the going gets tough.
Luke Shaw has also looked suited to playing the left of the three at the back, and although he tends to peak and trough, there’s still something about him that makes you think you’d rather have him, than lose him. Brandon Williams has given him a kick up the backside as well, and the future is a bright one for the Manchester-born full-back.
Axel Tuanzebe is another who has shown plenty of promise, but chances are limited for him, and at 22, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him make a permanent move. So to for Phil Jones, who despite Ole showing faith in him, is probably only as good as a back-up these days.
The youthfulness in United’s British midfielders is a sure way of proving Ole’s philosophy, and none demonstrate that more than Scott McTominany.
Given his chance originally by Jose Mourinho, he was a genuine miss to the side when he was out injured this season, and it was no shock to see him have an instant impact, both in defensive and attack, on his return. His career at United should hopefully be a long one and it will be nice to see him combining with Paul Pogba and Fernandes when football resumes.
Daniel James is another who has made a fantastic start to life at Old Trafford. Few of us had barely heard of him a couple of years ago, and although we have seen him more than we’d perhaps first expected this season, you’d have to give him a solid 7 out of 10 so far.
James Garner also has a lofty reputation, while Jesse Lingard is the only one with questions marks over him. He’s a confidence player who has suffered from a bad run of form this season and that could see him squeezed out in the next window. He’s been a grand servant over the last few seasons, but if United want to win titles again, he’d be nothing but a squad player.
If you’re looking for hot British property, look no further than United’s striking options.
In Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood we have arguably the two best young strikers in the country right now, and you wouldn’t be too stretched to say two of the best in Europe as well.
Rashford has had an instant impact from the start, and although he was thrown into the side by chance under Louis Van Gaal, he’s kept the momentum rolling and is one of the United’s star men these days.
He’s showed great character off the pitch as well and is a key part of passing on to the other players just how much it means to play for Manchester United.
With the goals he’s already scored, you’d have to say that Wayne Rooney’s club goal scoring record could be a real target for him, and don’t count against him being club captain in years to come.
He’s also the perfect inspiration for Mason Greenwood, who has got off to a flying start at senior level. He finishing ability is up there with the some of the best we have ever seen in a United shirt, and it’s going to be great to see him flourish over the next few seasons.
Opportunities might be limited for him, especially if Odion Ighalo stays and the likes of Sancho come in, but Solskjaer made a career out of coming off the bench and scoring when it matters, and Greenwood hasn’t done a bad job of following suit so far.