Two more names for the future at Manchester United. The Brazilian twins Fabio and Rafael Da Silva glittered on their full debuts in the side's friendly win at Peterborough on Monday night – Rafael particularly – much to the delight of the club's manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, who, having spotted them at the Nike-sponsored Premier Cup for Under-15 sides worldwide, had waited a year for the chance to play them.
There was plenty more yesterday of the same pedigree at United's Carrington training complex, where the Manchester United Premier Cup, as it is now entitled, was being held for the fourth time. Fluminese, in whose Under-15 side the Da Silvas starred, were as exciting as ever, defeating United's Under-15s 2-0 as they progressed to the semi-finals. But for all the general excitement Rio Ferdinand, the man who will discover from the England manager, Fabio Capello, next week whether he will captain the national side, was worrying about a paucity of English talent.
"I am not sure the talent is coming through as fast as it was," Ferdinand said after a training session with some of the Under-15s. "Watching the foreign teams and seeing the touch their kids possess and the way they take the ball, it's a lot different to the way our kids take the ball. The England manager has said that. He's not got the pool of talent to pick from, from 16 or 17 upwards, that he'd like."
The Premier Cup has delivered British talent – Ferdinand's brother Anton, West Ham's Mark Noble and Newcastle's Stephen Taylor – among the jewels like United's Carlos Tevez (in 1998-89) and Fernando Torres (2000-01), who have graced the tournament. Ferdinand believes the commercial demands of the game have contributed to a failure to blood players in the way that he was. "When I was at West Ham, Harry Redknapp was putting three or four kids in every year, just dipping them in and out of the team. Would he do that now at Portsmouth? I don't think he would. The risks are too great."
Ferdinand is not sure he would come through the ranks were he a 15-year-old now. He is not convinced coaching is as good as it was in the past and believes the number of foreign youngsters in clubs' academies is making it harder for the British contingent to develop. "We didn't have foreign players coming in our youth team when we were kids, but the game is global now," Ferdinand said. "It would be ideal if the young players coming through could be English, but if the foreign lads are coming in at 14,15, 16, they will be integrated into the Manchester United way of thinking and will be Manchester United youth team players."