Manchester United’s new kids on the block


After United’s youth team achieved a fantastic come-back win at Anfield to send them through to the FA Youth Cup semi-finals I take a look at United’s current emerging crop and ask whether or not they have what it takes to make it to the big time.

Always a big game at any level Liverpool vs United never fails gets the juices flowing and it didn’t disappoint on Sunday, five goals and four red cards tells of a feisty competitive derby game but it was also very easy on the eye. However it was the Reds of Manchester who progressed and can be extremely proud of themselves as they fought back from 2-0 down to win 3-2, in front of the watching Sir Alex Ferguson! Many at the club feel that this crop can progress all the way to the final and to the first team.

Now it would be churlish of me to suggest that every one of this current crop of young players will make the first team, even the famed class of ’92 didn’t all make it, but as a regular watcher of the reserves and under 18’s I’m not the only person recognising the talent at our disposal, the boss is too. In recent weeks a number of the youth team have been involved with the first team squad, Josh King in particular who has been a regular on the bench in recent weeks.

The nineteen year old Norwegian (who is built more like a twenty-six year old) is a bullish forward who lives for goals, he does however face a difficult task breaking into United’s first team with the wealth of talent at disposal but an area where many feel an influx of youth might help is in the midfield. Now surely there is no such thing as a nailed on certainty for making it but the are two in the midfield ranks who come as close to that mantle as possible.

Frenchmen Paul Pogba and local lad Ryan Tunnicliffe are the silk and steel to United’s midfield, they have been impressive this season and have been rewarded with first team call ups, including the European trip to Marseille. Tunnicliffe plays like an average fan on the street would want to play if they played for United. Driving runs from midfield and Roy Keane-esque tackles, he is not part of the engine room, he is the engine room. He is a fantastic player and I do see a place for him in the United team, if not this season then soon.

As for Paul Pogba you may be familiar with him as he was the player who United signed last season from Le Havre, the French club then decided that United had poached the seventeen year old and attempted legal proceedings against United. However, Pogba came to United and has flourished since. An expert from set pieces the midfield playmaker has been compared to a young Patrick Viera and admittedly he does have a similar physique and demeanour to the former Arsenal captain but he’s got more to his game than Viera. Both impressed at Anfield however Pogba was dismissed on fifty-five minutes in bizarre circumstances when he received a second yellow for stalling in his run up for United’s penalty, he can consider himself extremely hard done by. Meanwhile Tunnicliffe was a strong contender for man of the match playing out of his skin to compensate for the loss of Pogba. If you had to point to the future of United’s midfield then these two would surely be in the reckoning but they do have a long way to go.

From this current set though there is one stand out player, he is the jewel to United’s youth crown he is England youth international Ravel Morrison. Although he’s been in the news for the wrong reasons recently he has done nothing wrong whilst on the football pitch and there’s nothing wrong with a bit of a wreck less streak, is there? You only need to watch the endless clips on YouTube to see the talent that this boy possesses, he is a huge prospect and he lived up to his billing at Anfield scoring two goals including a stunning volleyed winner.

After the first team saw off Arsenal in their own cup competition I heard one United fan suggest United should attempt to prise Jack Wilshere away from the Emirates. Wilshere is a nifty midfielder and has the chance to become a top player no question but as a London lad would not want to come up to Manchester but more to the point if we can keep Morrison on the straight and narrow, I’m telling you, we will have a better player. A player who makes the game look so easy, a goal scorer, a playmaker he can even tackle, Daniel Taylor of the Guardian claims that senior figures inside Old Trafford claim that he is the most naturally gifted player to come through the ranks since Paul Scholes, high praise indeed. His versatility is also a strong point, he can play anywhere across the midfield and up-front, a proper footballer. Surely out of the four I have mentioned, he has the best chance.

Those of you who watch the youth team will remember the last time United won the FA Youth Cup which was back in 2003 and I’m sure that blogs were written at the time praising up and coming youngsters in that squad such as Kieron Richardson, Chris Eagles, Daniel Nardiello and Mads Timm and although all of them have gone on to make good careers for themselves many in the top flight they could not make the grade at United. Now it is good to see United youth products flourishing elsewhere but not as good to see them impressing at Old Trafford and if United youngsters aren’t making the grade then surely this undermines the whole premise of a youth system.

United only want the best of the best of course and I have had the privilege of speaking to former United forward Brian Mclair who now heads United’s Academy and youth system and he told me that out of a crop of two hundred eleven year olds brought to United’s Trafford Training Centre only one, maybe two will be expected to make the grade, this shows just how hard it is.

I have only mentioned three players in this article but these are not the only ones worth looking out for by any stretch, talented forward Will Keane, the solid defensive partnership of Oliver Gill and Scott Wooton is also worth a mention. As I have already said, there is no chance that the whole team will make the grade, but if United can get four regulars from this bunch the future will be bright indeed.

By Nathan Thomas


9 responses to “Manchester United’s new kids on the block”

  1. arsenalfan says :

    Suggesting Morrison will be a better player than Wilshere is a bit premature… You can never know these things but when you compare talents to see how good they can be you should look at a bit more than just raw talent like…. opportunities, injury-record, work-rate, attitude(on the pitch…”hate to lose” mindset), attitude(off-field) etc.

    Morrison may have more talent than wilshere (would be a lot) but wilshere has all of the above. Morrison will need to get his life sorted… and move to a club where he can get 90 minutes.

  2. john says :

    pogba morrison and tunnicliffe should be already playing for the first team i think.
    when we get cleverly back from wigan we should start to push these 4 lads becuase our main problem is midfiled and these 4 players are good enough to be in the first team. pogba for hargreaves or carrick, tunnicliffe for fletcher or gibson and morrison for giggs so i think we already have the replacement ready we need to sell the older players who not performing , the ones i just have mentioned, and start to push theses lads

  3. jezz09 says :

    @arsenalfan, what are you even doin on here? your some man to be talking about conserving opinions on young players, arsenal fans are the masters at immensely hyping and over-rating your youngsters! Wilshere is nothing more than the new Michael Carrick, does nothing but pass sideways, already a media darling because how shite england are in mid-field, anything is better than Carrick on current form or Gareth Barry. So what Ravel has problems off the field, anger issues, rough childhood, this can be the making of a player, when he gets a taste of first team action, and realise what he could be throwing away, fergie can use the above problem to drive and encourage this little machine of a player! and by the way, only Fergie could do this.

  4. IVOR IRWIN says :

    Wilshere is the classic English midfielder in the Johnny Haines mould. Not United’s style, anyway. Tunnicliffe and Pogba really are going to be brilliant: The talent really is there. You only need to look at Davide Petrucci, however, to see that it’s not just talent and determination, either. This poor kid’s been repeatedly injured with flashes of utter brilliance in between. The problem with Morrison, who has the talent to be up there with Georgie Best, is that he’s involved with all those Q.S.G. gangbanging influences and that’s a lifetime thing unless he agrees to allow the club to give him a minder. That can work as it did at West Ham United with all those Peckham kids in the 90’s

  5. isnoor says :

    And i am sure j.King can make it to senior team,i see him giving pressure to opposition defence.

  6. baza5x says :

    great to hear the united fans singing hillsborough songs showing your classless.

  7. Tgan says :

    Liverpool were miles better than the mancs, we totally out passed you right throughout the game. The ref was a joker and Liverpool at 2-0 were smoking cigars, then he sends a Liverpool player off and gives a joke penalty. To send 4 players off was pathetic, I was there. Man Utd officials have apologised for the behaviour of there own fans in a crowd full of kids, not all mancs are idiots only most of them!!!!!

  8. NLT08 says :

    As for the United supporters singing Hillsborough song it’s an utter disgrace and should be punished. However not all Mancs would sing those songs, I certainly wouldn’t and it a grates on me big time when I hear Munich chants and Scousers have sung them in the past but that doesn’t make them all idiots. Every football team has a section of idiots and a section of relatively level-headed individuals, it’s just the way of the world.
    As for the game I felt it was much more of an even contest than you are making out, United showed spells of brilliance, but so did Liverpoool. Both have good emerging young talent. Time will only tell who uses them to to the greatest effect.

  9. luckystriker says :

    As much as I enjoy reading about the talent in our reserves, it’s almost impossible to predict who will make the grade until they get games in the first team. On this basis, I’d say Cleverly has the best chance of making it at OT.

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