New Manchester United signing Nick Powell is being lined up for a central midfield berth at Old Trafford following his move from Crewe Alexandra.
The 18-year-old operated as a wide-man or forward last season for Alex and finished the campaign with 16 goals in all competitions.
But Sir Alex Ferguson plans to pull Powell back in to a deeper role, something he has previously done with Alan Smith, on his arrival from Leeds in 2004.
That move enjoyed moderate success before Smith was sold to Newcastle in 2007 but in Paul Scholes, Ferguson has a permanent reminder that this sort of switch can be successful.
Scholes, who was often employed as a deep lying forward early in his career has become one of the Club’s greatest ever players since he moved into the hub of United’s engine room in the mid 90s.
“We see him as a central midfield player,” said the United boss of his new recruit. “Crewe played him as a forward in behind the striker, but I asked a question of [Alex Director of Football] Dario Gradi as to whether he thought central midfield was his position.”
“That’s what he thinks, and Nick thinks that’s his position too, so we’re all in accord on that.”
Ferguson admits that the role of former Crewe boss Gradi was crucial in smoothing through 18-year-old Powell’s £3m-plus move to Old Trafford.
“The fact that I knew Dario well made it much easier in terms of getting to the point of helping us do a deal quickly,” added Ferguson.
“Nick had been on our scouting radar for a while. When he first came into the team from last November onwards, he did very well and we’ve watched him progress.”
“Then when we got to the end of the season it started to get a bit more serious and we decided to do a deal before the play-offs, which proved the right thing to do.”
“He’s still got a bit of physical development to do, as you’d expect of any 18-year-old, but he’ll be with the first team squad and train with us every day. If they progress and they’re good enough, I’ve no issue with that. We play young players all the time.”
Powell is looking forward to getting started at Old Trafford.
“I thought Crewe’s facilities were amazing for a League Two Club but this is a different world,” said Powell. “At Crewe, it was one camera, one person. At Manchester United, it’s the whole world.”
“I’ve still got a lot to learn and being at Manchester United will help that, but the other players have been fantastic.”