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7 minutes of future - The Manchester United academy impact

For around 70 minutes on Sunday, it was an all too familiar story of Manchester United playing some pathetic football in an away game. A wonderful opportunity for youngsters to get some European experience without much pressure.

Sourav Ghosh
Last updated: 28.11.2019
The Manchester United academy impact | Sports Social Blog

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For around 70 minutes on Sunday, it was an all too familiar story of Manchester United playing some pathetic football in an away game. They were trailing by 2 goals to Sheffield and there didn’t seem any way back given the Red Devils’ struggles away from home since March this year.

 

As all looked lost for the umpteenth time, a golden-haired 19-year-old struck his first-ever senior goal to halve the deficit. Brandon Williams, who has been slowly introduced into the team due to injury to Luke Shaw, scored the first goal in what would be one of the three goals to follow.

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5 mins later it was Mason Greenwood being teed up by Rashford to slide in and restore parity. They definitely did not look done as another bit of combination between the front three resulted in Marcus Rashford scoring the third and completing a comeback of sorts, given Sheffield eventually scored an injury-time equalizer.

 

Minus all the gloom and doom that has surrounded the club in recent times; the younger players have been the shining light and something that supporters look forward to on match days. When Solskjaer took charge, it was viewed as a move towards the yesteryears of the club when the core of the club was formed of players from the academy. The Busby Babes and the Class of ‘92 are something that the club proudly boasts of. While the promotion of players from the academy has always been a staple at Old Trafford, they haven’t exactly lit up the scene like their predecessors. The likes of Tyler Blackett, Donald Love, Josh Harrop, etc. have failed to make much of a mark since graduating to the first team. Granted that the managers were partly at fault.

 

But.

 

One look at the team from last year and you will start to notice a changing pattern. Yes, the change in approach towards transfers was a big point but what has been the main theme, is trust placed on youth players.

 

Here’s a stat to back that claims up. (At the time of writing this)


In the 27 goals scored by United in all comps., 26 of them have been either scored or assisted by an academy player. That includes the likes of Pogba, Rashford, Lingard, Pereira, Brandon Williams, McTominay and Greenwood. The only goal that wasn’t scored or assisted by an academy player was by Daniel James against Crystal Palace.

 

Romelu Lukaku was sold so as to facilitate the development of Greenwood. Brandon Williams has slowly been introduced to the rigors of the first team and could well continue ahead of Shaw. Marcus Rashford seems to be rediscovering his form after the return of several players from injury. Axel Tuanzebe is probably knocking on the doors of Lindelof who has been shaky at best against more physical opposition. Pogba’s absence was clearly being felt with the team struggling to dominate the middle of the park and provide the creativity. A certain Scott McTominay has stepped up in his absence and taken up the mantle of the midfield general with his all-action displays. James Garner is also being touted as a player in the ilk of Michael Carrick and that’s not a bad thing. Tahith Chong has somewhat been underwhelming in the few chances he’s got but there’s still time. Let’s not forget that a certain Dean Henderson who is on loan at Sheffield is also flourishing.

 

What’s even more impressive, is the squad for the Europa League game against Astana. Only 4 senior players have been named with the rest being academy players. Granted, United have already progressed to the knockouts and Astana isn’t top tier opposition, this is still a daunting decision and one that shows trust in the flourishing academy.

 

Players like Dylan Levitt, Di’Shon Bernard, and Ethan Laird are on their way to start the game. While others like Teden Mengi, D'Mani Bughail-Mellor, Matej Kovar, Arnau Martinez, Largie Ramazani, Max Taylor and Ethan Galbraith are on the bench.

 

This will be a wonderful opportunity for these youngsters to get some European experience without much pressure and who knows maybe they will be something we talk about as a part of Ole’s class of ‘19.

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