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A festive Wayne Rooney poem

…because we feel like it. 

A visit from Saint Meredith

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
United socks hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.

The baby was nestled all snug in his bed,
While visions of footballers danced in his head.
A Littlewoods nightie, and dad’s special cap,
Lay close in attendance as owners did nap.

When out on Pitch One there arose such a clatter,
Wayne sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window he flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to goalposts below.
When, what to his wondering eyes should approach,
But a little red man, in a bustling team coach.

In his mouth was a pipe, or cigar, or a stick,
Wayne thought for a moment it must be Saint Nick!
More rapid than Concorde, the vehicle came,
Then he whistled and shouted, and called them by name.

“Now, Bobby! now, Georgey! now, Dennis and Duncan!
On, Malcolm, on! Joey, on! Francis and Colin!
To the top of the pitch! to the top of the goal!
Now run away! run away! run away all!”

All the men tumbled out when he parked up the bus,
One boot stood on another and Wayne heard a cuss.
But then up to the goalmouth the players they flew,
With a bag full of balls, and their eager boss, too.

And then, in a twinkling, Wayne saw on the grass
The players all dribbling or choosing to pass.
As he drew in his head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney their gaffer did come with a bound.

He landed, well balanced, with a ball at his foot,
His crimson shirt faded and all covered in soot.
But he brushed himself down and there right on his chest,
Sat proudly a dragon, on an old-style crest.

His eyes how they narrowed! his cheeks how they sunk!
As he saw young Wayne dressed in silk cap and silk trunks.
Then his mouth it grew small, as his lips, they went tight,
The moustache on his philtrum was black as the night.

The stump of a pick he held firm in his teeth,
Bit tight, he had clearly no rush to bequeath.
He had a slim body and yet slimmer smile,
That made poor Wayne wish he could run for a mile.

He was near perfect shape, a trim little old elf,
And Wayne shied when he saw him, in spite of himself.
The glare of his eye and his motionless head,
Soon gave Wayne to know he had something to dread.

He wasted no time and went straight to his task,
He rifled through cupboards, then turned sharp to ask:
“Dear Wayne, what is meant by this Christmas eve trip,
Is honest appraisal of this here wage slip.”

He held it aloft, the small blue printed note,
And queried the figure he proceeded to quote.
Why was Wayne still paid such a laughable sum,
When neighbouring players looked on and made fun?

Written by Jude Ellery, courtesy of strange bOUnce After Christmas, they’ll continue the festivities with more poetry, and a bit of fiction for good measure.

From everyone here at MU24 (just me, lonely), we wish you a Merry Chrimbo, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, whatever.

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Anderson’s recent showings give us much reason to be optimistic

“The Nani of centre-midfield,” I’ve heard some label the enigmatic Anderson. In fairness, you can see where they are coming from – he has the ability to amaze and frustrate in equal measure however, like Nani, the talent and potential is clearly there. Recently, Anderson has pulled out what many would recognise as ‘coming of age performances’; against Everton he was sensational dictating the play like the midfielder we all so very much want him to be and against Schalke on Wednesday night, he scored his first ever brace for United doubling his total goal tally for the Reds in a matter of minutes.

Despite this being Anderson’s fourth season at the club and the fact that the Brazillian has yet to pull out performances of the like that I have mentioned on a consistent basis, I still view United’s number eight as an extremely exciting prospect. In a sense, he is the only centre-midfielder who hasn’t got a defensive bone in his body, when he gets the ball he wants to turn and run with it. It’s difficult not to love a midfielder who drives the team forward and Anderson does that – and the fact that he plays with a smile on his face with typical Brazilian exuberance that, intriguingly, we have not seen much of at Old Trafford despite our rich history of international players. Now I’m not churlish enough to suggest that this is all it takes for Anderson to become a mainstay in the United midfield, of course not; his passing must be more accurate, more often and without doubt he needs to chip in with more goals – if Anderson can add a steady goal input to his game akin to Nani it will improve his all round game massively.

I’ve mentioned his passing and his goal scoring; both are crucial elements to the game of an attacking midfielder which at (and in the case of goals most of the) times in Anderson’s United career have deserted him. For him to make it, he must possess sound quality in both these attributes. For me, however, he’s without doubt got it in him but there are two reasons why he has not been able to turn his glimpses of brilliances into regular starts:

1) The first is his positioning, up until recently Sir Alex had opted to play Anderson in a more deeper position, not deep but deeper. He’d have a Carrick behind him and a Scholes alongside him, this way Michael Carrick or United’s defender’s would mop up and feed Anderson or Scholes, who would then rely on sound distribution and find the flair players of the likes of Ronaldo and Rooney.

In a recent interview, Brazil legend Carlos Alberto suggested that the reason why the Old Trafford faithful had not seen the best of the twenty-three year old was because he would be more effective playing in a free role. Alberto went on to say that when Anderson played in Brazil and in Portugal with Porto, he was much more effective and a more potent attacking outlet than he is currently at Old Trafford. The statistics would seem to confirm this. At Gremio, Anderson’s first club, he scored nine in thirty-one and at Porto he notched three in twenty five. It’s hardly in Lionel Messi’s league but it doesn’t have to be, but when compared with his four in one hundred and twenty eight at United, it makes for interesting reading. Goals aren’t everything, but his lack of them suggests that he has struggled, to an extent.

Despite being an Anderson fan at the beginning of his Old Trafford career, I was frustrated by his appeared unwillingness to make late runs into the box. Having been brought up watching Paul Scholes giving a master class in late runs, this is what I wanted to see from the man billed as ‘Scholes’ replacement’. However,  what I did not realise at the time was that Anderson had in effect been shackled and could only make sporadic forward runs for fear of being caught out of position. I don’t blame Ferguson for this as he clearly knows Anderson’s talents better than any of us, he watched him for over a year and half before signing him and sees him every day in training, so it’s not as if Sir Alex was ignorant of where Anderson has always played, more that the player must adapt to United and not the other way around.

The departure of Cristiano Ronaldo gave Ferguson the chance to experiement with various ways of playing Anderson and in recent weeks the decision to push Anderson forward has been vindicated – his late foraging runs into the box against Schalke had me smiling like a school boy in the Stretford End! However, this begs the question that, if Ronaldo left in June 2009 and Anderson has finally begun to show consistent form in April 2011, what has he been doing for the past two years? Well; this leads me nicely on to my second point.

2) The second is consistency, or rather, the lack of it. Many often forget that Anderson has had a torrid time with injuries since his arrival from the Algarve, not on an Owen Hargreaves scale but enough to disrupt his development. His first two seasons were disrupted by small niggling injuries as his body grew accustomed to the heavier demands of English football and often caused him to miss games. In his third campaign, he missed a large portion of the season with cruciate ligament damage; a factor that also caused him to miss pre-season. Pre-season is often undervalued by many fans as pointless friendlies, yet United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer recently spoke about how crucial it is to a player’s season and that they are of detriment if they do not take part in it. You only have to look at players like Rooney who has without doubt suffered without having the guided fitness programme provided by United’s fitness staff in the summer months. Anderson tops the lot, though. In a recent interview, he said one thing he was looking forward to was getting a proper pre-season under his belt as, unbelievably since joining United, he hasn’t had one. His first in 07/08 was disrupted by injury, his second was replaced by playing for Brazil in the Beijing Olympics and last season he was still undergoing rehabilitation for what could have been a very serious (and another) injury to his knee. That particular knee injur,y along with one or two smaller injuries, once again halted his progress this season and up until last month the South American had once again flattered to deceive.

Anderson has looked sharp, fit and effective after undergoing a fast track to fitness similar to that of Wayne Rooney’s. Before returning to the first team fray he played a couple of times for the reserves, on both occasions he scored and utterly dominated the game one of which was against Manchester City, which was particularly pleasing but I opted not to get too excited, this was the reserves, after all. However, after two months out Anderson returned against Fulham in April and since then has been brilliant with the only blot on his copy book being at Arsenal in which, in truth, not many United players performed in a defeat which I see as being largely down to tiredness, what sportsmen and women call “burn-out”, in what has been a packed schedule.

Despite this, some were disappointed by Anderson’ inability to effect proceedings against Arsenal as these are the games his critics will say he needs to show his metal; we know he can do against Everton at home, but can he do it in the crunch fixtures? Well, unfortunately, it wasn’t to be on this occasion and despite putting a sweat soaked shift his impact was minimal and he was substituted in the second half. Fortunately, we know that Ando has it in him, against Arsenal away and home in 2007/08 he was excellent in nullifying the likes of Hleb, Flamini and Fabregas. He also had a field day against Steven Gerrard at Anfield much to the travelling supports delight. Similarly, in 2008/09, he was crucial in United’s Champions League run effective once again against Arsenal in the semi-final. He and Fabregas were brilliant in 2007/08 and I even made a prediction that three years from then Anderson and Fabregas would be the best midfielder’s in the country the next generation of Keane and Viera. Well, here we are and I believe it’s safe to say that my prediction was a little off the mark; you could put a good argument forward to say that Fabregas is the best, however, Anderson has simply not been able to consistently produce the brilliance we know he is capable of (largely down to no fault of his own as we have discussed). In fact, while we are on the subject for me the best all-round midfielder’s in the country at this moment are Luka Modric, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes (on his day) who in the latter two’s case I only wish were ten years younger – but this is me going off topic.

As for the Anderson-Fabregas ‘discussion’, I have going on about how Anderson has shown he can get one over the Spaniard and that when they are on form little separates them but as Arsenal’s best midfielder by a long shot he has been given the consistency that Anderson so desperately needs. But, as I have already allured to, there is much to be positive about. I believe that a fully fit Anderson, provided by a good pre-season, played in an advance role can have a massive impact for the United squad of now for the foreseeable future. He seems grounded now and has said recently stated that he now prefers to spend time with his children on his day off rather than go ‘chasing girls’, if you like. It’s been a long time coming, but it appears he’s adjusted to life in England and at United and if he gets a bit of luck I can see a star in the making at Old Trafford.

By Nathan Thomas

Darron Gibson was not deserving of Twitter barrage

Darron Gibson is no fans’ favourite at Old Trafford. And, having joined the ‘twitterverse’ earlier today, the Irishman found himself subject to a number of ill-mannered ‘tweets’ that, we can only speculate, forced him to close his account within two hours. 

Darron Gibson

By Annie Eaves – freelance journalist

Darron Gibson eh? Gibbo. What a bloke. He had a dream and worked hard and accomplished it. He may not be the most talented footballer but he made it. At Manchester United.

He managed to be a part of a squad and did what was asked and became useful to the manager as the club approached a record breaking nineteen titles. A dream comes true. A reality made from aspiration. A boy done good.

Except no. Not if you’re part of a certain aspect of our great club’s fan base who deems the young man to be past the point of support. A player you would be embarrassed to cheer in your oh-so-knowledgeable peer group. It makes you more of a United supporter when you hate Gibson. It makes you more of a United supporter when you hate your national team. In reality it just makes you a bit of an idiot.

You see, Darron Gibson has the temerity to be a player for United, something you failed by a mile and half the world. He’s the worst player to pull on that shirt you claim to support, the worst you’ve ever seen. He wouldn’t make it in the Championship. He steals a living. He’s a fraud.

Obviously the majority of players who have played for our great club throughout history are a class apart from the rest. We always have the best players. Yeah you may think of names from decades gone by but obviously they count for little. Our team is of this age. Unfortunately much of our support is too.

There’s a different aspect to this. A religious and nationalistic aspect. An aspect that as a Mancunian I couldn’t give two hoots about. So he doesn’t play for Northern Ireland, and? So he chooses to play for the Republic, and? To be honest I couldn’t give a camel’s whisker whether he played for The Cook Islands.

You want to use him as some pariah to feed age’s old hate or new anger? I couldn’t care less. You want to support my local team then you’re very very welcome but bring your problems with that and let them affect your support then I feel you’d be better off in Glasgow. And Glasgow would be worse off for having you. Darron Gibson isn’t ever going to be Xavi, let’s hire the firing squad for a convenient time next week.

Or, alternatively, let’s get behind the boy as he fulfils his dream. If our manager feels he is right for the team then you have to accept that on that particular day. Explode with frustration if you like and criticise performances. If you feel you have a burning rage then perhaps look at other issues surrounding yourself rather than Darron Gibson, the young footballer.

The idiots, and frankly that’s what the anonymous keyboard warriors are, who attacked him today for daring to open a Twitter account, have probably defined the concept of being pathetic. Don’t rate the player? Fine. Want him sold? Fine. Attack the guy anonymously with cowardly threats? Fine?

Not fine anymore. Just understand it says more about you than it ever will about Gibson. Unfortunately as a club we have a section of support always trying to prove something to an often inexistent peer group. United better than England. Carrick worse than awful. Gibson deserving of hate.

It’s about time we stood up against these idiots. Our club is Manchester United and long may it remain that way. We don’t have to agree all the time, God forbid we ever do. However we do have to understand what the concept of support means.

Follow Annie on Twitter @AnnieEaves

Rejuvenated Rooney is truly the complete footballer

As United powered through to the semi-finals of the Champions League at the expense of our old adversary’s Chelsea, there was much to savour after another Stella performance from the boys in Red. Ryan Giggs once again rolled back the years with another terrific showing alongside the revitalised Michael Carrick. Ji-Sung Park covered a staggering twelve kilometres and Javier Hernandez showed again what an astute purchase he is. For me, though, it was all about our talismanic number ten…

After an out of sorts season (to say the least) accompanied by shenanigans off it, Wazza has finally found his feet and, don’t worry Ray Wilkins, he’ll be staying on them. I’ve long said it but for me, we already have the answer to the Paul Scholes problem in one Wayne Rooney. I am a huge admirer of the likes of Wesley Sneijder and Bastian Schweinsteiger but why spend large sums of money when you already have the talent at your fingertips? Now who am I to preach, if Rooney is to replace Scholes in United’s midfield I’m sure Ferguson will have identified this, probably when everyone was raving about how Rooney should be played as the target man, right up front. On Tuesday night, though, he was sensational, love him or hate him you have to appreciate his talent, so I say forget the crap and get behind a marvellous footballer who could yet be the lynchpin of many more years of United success.

Chelsea couldn’t get near him and they didn’t have a clue where he was half the time and neither did many inside Old Trafford as Wayne popped up on the left, the right, up top and then on the edge of our own area. Double this with the lightning pace of Chicharito, we had the best defence in the Premier League extremely worried. On the biggest stage he gave a performance Keane, Robson, Whiteside and Ince would have all be proud off although in truth he wasn’t exactly midfield.  To quote the great Sir Matt Busby it was as if Sir Alex said to the Croxteth born forward “just go out and play son”; Wayne was given a free role just behind Hernandez and sat in front of the effective Carrick and Giggs.

Without doubt this newly forged partnership of Hernandez and Rooney is the future, it is flourishing and is getting better by the game; what a shame it is that the two cannot be let loose on Manchester City on Saturday as I would love nothing more than to see them take City apart. No matter though, how many clubs do you know that can call on the League’s top goal scorer as back up, I am an admirer of Berbatov and he undoubtedly has a part to play at United but at thirty he must know himself the future rests with the twenty-five year old Rooney and the 22 year old Mexican, Hernandez.

The Rooney-Hernandez axis is a relatively new experiment in truth though; in 2010 they played with each other once against Rangers at home the next time was against Wigan at the DW Stadium in February. Since that game they have played together seven times scored seven between them and have three assists, remarkable.

The free role just behind the striker is perfect for Wayne as it utilises his appetite for football in the best possible way. If you look at the diagram below you can see the influence that Wayne carries in this position, spreading passes in all areas of the pitch.

Admittedly if there were any weaknesses in his game you could argue his passing percentage rate could have been better, however this is still a 78% pass completion rate which against a team with the quality of Chelsea and for a guy who isn’t Paul Scholes (yet) is extremely respectable. Furthermore Wayne offers energy and terrific tackling ability which aren’t Scholesy’s strong points, incidentally Rooney covered eleven kilometres.

Of course playing Rooney deeper would possibly restrict his goal return, he would probably not reach the thirty-four goals he scored in his most prolific season last year (2009/10) and you can see below that his chances on goal were restricted.

However subsequently he is in a better position to create goals (as shown by the diagram below) and this has been highlighted by the fact that Rooney has already shipped in with fourteen assists this season. Of course playing Rooney deeper would not eradicate his goal influence entirely, this season Rooney has netted thirteen goals and created fourteen, in a season where his touch has been off, he’s been poor, he doesn’t look happy etc. etc. Imagine if he had a clean run of form all season how effective he could be “in the hole” playing behind Hernandez or Welbeck and with Berbatov waiting in the wings in case things are going so well.

Rooney is such a complete footballer you would feel comfortable with him playing almost anywhere and he would still be available to play as the out and out forward we know he can giving the likes of Cleverly a chance to shine in that midfield role. Now I know what you are thinking, United have won nothing yet and it’s easy to wax lyrical after a good performance, well yes you are right. However after a season where this current United side have received so much stick even from sections of our own support it is great to see them clicking together when it really matters is extremely sweet and for the man vilified by many to be at the heart of it, is just typical United.

By Nathan Thomas

Ryan Giggs keeps tearing them apart

In yesterday’s fantastic come from behind 4-2 win at West Ham, United saw it fit to introduce a new left back at half time. He’s not played there much in truth and he’s thirty-seven so I’m not sure whether or not he has much staying power in the position and could struggle to out muscle Patrice Evra to claim the role. However he was very impressive and immediately after his introduction bombed forward in support of the attack and whipped in a pinpoint cross with which Hernandez should have done better with. In the eighty-fourth minute though Hernandez made up for his miss as our new left back drilled another cross through a crowd of players for Chicharito to tap home the Reds fourth goal.

Not a bad debut I’m sure you’ll agree, however you and I both know this was no debut, this was the 867th appearance for a United stalwart, this was Ryan Giggs. As Sir Alex altered his tactics at the break at Upton Park with United trailing 2-0 he sacrificed seasoned left back Patrice Evra for the attacking prowess of Hernandez. This left the left-back spot unoccupied and with a small defensive injury crisis on our hands I speculated with my fellow Reds whether we would move Fabio to left-back and play someone like Gibson at right-back or would we be extremely bold and play 3-4-3. Typically none of us second guessed the manager as he moved Ryan Giggs from playing deep behind Rooney to left full back, remarkable.

Unsurprisingly Giggs relished his new role despite claiming after the match that he didn’t particularly enjoy it but it didn’t look like that from a spectator’s point of view. Giggsy also stated that he was now “used” to the position which is also astonishing bearing in mind before yesterday’s game Ryan had only ever played left-back twice in his entire United career, those appearances came in the last ten minutes at the Britannia Stadium in 2008/09 and at last year’s League game at Upton back where he occupied the spot for the last twenty. Yesterday’s game was his longest stint in the position as he occupied it for the entire second half and in truth Giggs was brilliant.

His endless energy never ceases to amaze as he continued to overlap his winger for the entirety of the second period, his defensive skills were also put to the test and the Welshman passed them with flying colours. At one stage the left back spot was temporarily shared my messrs Rooney and Giggs, not the most experienced of defensive units but their passion for the United cause cannot be underestimated.

Season upon season Giggs returns with an unquenchable desire for success and having already signed a new one year deal will be at Old Trafford for the foreseeable future. He is still very important to United as a creative outlet aswell. At thirty seven, playing less regular than he used to Giggs still has five assists too his name, at first glance you may not think that this is a particularly astonishing stat but when you realise he is level with the likes of Steven Gerrard, James Milner and David Silva; all of whom are regular starters and the main creative outlets for their team, the stat seems more impressive. However as we all know his skill as a player is now just part of the package, he now has experience and know how to add to the bargain, very rare in an attacking midfielder (whose legs usually go earlier causing them to retire) but Giggs has obviously put the hard yards in in training as he continues to bamboozle young fledgling right backs sometimes fifteen years his junior (I’m sure Ryan won’t thank me for the age reference). I’ve had great pleasure this season watching Giggs “tear apart” players such as City’s Micah Richards and Liverpool’s Martin Kelly and fortunately we have another seasons worth of the Welsh Wizard’s mazy runs to enjoy.

Recently in a poll in the clubs official magazine Ryan Giggs was voted the best player ever to pull on a United shirt, of course pols like this are a generational thing but surely nobody can have any complaints with the victory. Twenty years of solid service but not from a no thrills defender but from a classy tricky forward, we’ve not seen the like before and I doubt we will ever see it again. We all know that Giggsy’s days in football are numbered but there’s still some time yet, so enjoy watching him and relish the fact that United have been blessed to have such a player for such a length of time.

So as United prepare for the first leg of the Champions League quarter final this Wednesday it begs the question where will Giggs play, striker, left back, may be even centre half. Well, in truth he might actually not make the staring XI at all, most likely rested after his East-London exerts. But he’ll be ready when the Boss gives him the call to go on, in any position, because as one intuitive Red put it:

He’ll play where he wants,
He’ll play where he wants,
Ryan Giggs,
He’ll play where he wants.

By Nathan Thomas

Manchester United’s new kids on the block

HIGHLY RATED: Paul Pogba

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

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