Manchester United are in talks with former England midfielder Tom Huddlestone about a role at the club where he will play with the Under-21 squad.
United have been looking to replace Paul McShane, who was a hybrid coach-player until he hung up his shoes this summer, and have turned to Huddlestone, who played eight seasons with Tottenham Hotspur and also played in the Premier League with Hull City .
Huddlestone, 35, will be allowed to play as an overage player in Premier League 2 matches, which is an under-21 competition meaning he will wear the United shirt, with clubs allowed to play five senior outfield players and one goalkeeper.
After leaving Hull at the end of last season, Huddlestone was looking to take his first steps in coaching and the opportunity at United seems ideal for his situation. He will bring his experience to United’s Academy players on the pitch and at the club’s training base in Carrington.
Having a player-coach on the Academy roster was the brainchild of Nick Cox, United’s head of the Academy, and McShane’s appointment is considered a success. The Republic of Ireland centre-back started at United’s Academy before returning as a player-coach in 2021.
Cox believed it was valuable for United Academy to have a player with experience alongside youngsters in matches to provide in-game coaching, with the club looking for another coach after McShane’s retirement, who will remain to coach.
United have looked into signing a number 6 and Huddlestone is not a first-team contract. At the peak of his career, he was a creative deep-set midfielder with a pass range that saw him play for Spurs when they qualified for the Champions League, while earning four caps for England during his career.
Huddlestone is expected to play fewer games than McShane but will be involved in training sessions every day with United players coming through the ranks.
Ten Hag’s Old Trafford debut is marred by Glazer protests
By James Ducker
Erik ten Hag’s first Premier League game as Manchester United manager will take place amid fresh protests against the club’s ‘inappropriate’ ownership by the Glazer family.
As United prepare for the new season with questions about Cristiano Ronaldo’s future, which is an unwelcome sideshow for Ten Hag, the club is also bracing for further demonstrations from fans calling for the Glazers to be removed.
United’s last three home games last season were played against bitter protests and anger from supporters at the American owners as the club collapsed into their worst campaign of the Premier League era.
In May, Richard Arnold expressed the hope that a new era under Ten Hag would help to quell the unrest among fans.
But the chief executive’s pleas are likely to fall on deaf ears, as supporters group ‘The 1958’ confirm plans for more protests on Sunday, when United face Brighton in their first league game at Old Trafford.
Fans are urged to meet in Media City at Salford Quays at 12 noon before marching to Old Trafford an hour later for the 2 p.m. kick-off.
The 1958 group said on their Twitter account that they hoped their protests would lead to the Megastore on Old Trafford’s East Stand being closed and the director’s entrance in the Munich tunnel closed off. In previous protests, the steel shutters came down and the driver’s entrance was flanked by security personnel and police.
“The Glazers are unsuitable and inappropriate owners,” said the 1958. “We will always support the club. We will always support the manager. We will always rebel against the current owners and any puppet hierarchy they designate. The future of our club is our only motivation.”