Rochdale’s twenty-two-year-old midfielder Ollie Rathbone has been talking about his reasons for leaving Manchester United on the eve of his side’s visit to Old Trafford this evening.
Dale will be backed by an estimated following of around 6,000 fans for their third-round Carabao Cup clash with the Premier League giants, and it will be a special evening for everyone associated with the humble, well run League One outfit but especially for Rathbone, who spent eight years at Old Trafford, coming through the ranks with the likes of Rashford and McTominay.
He left four and a half years ago, and after almost one hundred and twenty appearances for Dale, he has no regrets over his decision to quit United. Speaking to the media ahead of the game, Rathbone outlined to the Manchester Evening News how his frustration at a lack of progression at Old Trafford led him to the decision to go in search of regular first-team football.
‘I wasn’t getting a sniff in the reserves. [Louis] Van Gaal was the manager at the time and he used to drop down [Adnan] Januzaj, who was going to play in the reserves at the time, Memphis Depay played a few times, so that means the lads who were first choices in the reserves were on the bench, and I was a bench player who wasn’t in squads.’
‘Me and my dad thought about how I would get on in the leagues, and I thought, yeah, actually, I’d do alright. We had a discussion with Warren Joyce and Nicky Butt, and they said, ‘we will keep him on, he is a top lad, but there is not a pathway for him here so we can’t guarantee him any game time’.’
A man in demand with the media, keen to soak up page filling stories of his experiences with Rashford, Giggs and Rooney, Rathbone explained to the Guardian that leaving the glitz and glamour of United was favourable for both his career and his wider life. He said ‘I thought I would do all right in league football. I can say now it’s been the best thing I have ever done in my life, in my entire career.’
A great story from a young man accumulating experience and some praise for his displays in the Rochdale midfield.
Young players stagnating at Premier League clubs, on big money but being sent on endless loans and getting nowhere near the first-team should read Rathbone’s story.
There is a career to be had in the EFL, get out and play, take a gamble, back yourself, and who knows how your career will develop.
Good luck to Ollie and all at Rochdale this evening.