Play The Youth: Manchester United's Season Is A Dud

Since 1939, 50% of Manchester United’s first team players have been from the academy. Rangnick should increase that percentage
13:00, 02 May 2022

Manchester United have prided themselves on playing the youngsters and giving youth a chance. Since 1939, 50% of Manchester United’s first team players have been from the academy and the club are currently on a streak of 4,143 consecutive match days with an academy product in the squad. This rich tradition has stood the club in good stead, so now is the perfect time to give more youngsters a chance and endear themselves to the Old Trafford faithful. 

This season has ultimately been an astonishing failure for Manchester United. Given the signings in the summer and the star-studded squad at the disposal of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and then Ralf Rangnick, the fact the United are battling for a spot in the Europa League is embarrassing. The race for the top four and the pursuit of a UEFA Champions League spot is done as United dropped eight points in crucial games against Leicester City, Everton and Arsenal in recent weeks. The defeat to Everton was damning. It summed the season up perfectly that the current group of players weren’t up for the fight and didn’t even have it in them to beat an Everton side who had just lost to fellow relegation strugglers Burnley. The most recent game against Chelsea was another dire affair with lacklustre effort, poor football and players who look like they’d rather be elsewhere. Even talismanic try-hard Bruno Fernandes stated that United were “fighting for nothing” after the 4-0 defeat to Liverpool and the performances of late have lived up to that declaration. 

As it’s apparent that the current crop of first teamers don’t care anymore let's play the kids. You do it on Football Manager in the early rounds of the Carabao Cup, maybe you’d call a few up to meet the homegrown quota or perhaps you’ve discovered a gem and they deserve a shot. Whatever the reason, you find a way to justify it. The reason this time is the first team have thrown in the towel and are underperforming. Diogo Dalot and Alex Telles have been woeful, Aaron Wan-Bissaka is out of favour with Ralf Rangnick, Rashford lacks confidence while Cavani, Lingard, Pogba, Matic and Mata are all set to leave the club. So move on and give the youngsters some Premier League experience.  Alejandro Garanacho made a two minute cameo against Chelsea to become the 247th academy product to play a competitive game for the first team. He should certainly get more time against Brentford tonight but who else deserves a shot?

will rangnick dip into united's excellent youth team to freshen up his ailing squad?
will rangnick dip into united's excellent youth team to freshen up his ailing squad?

Alvaro Fernandez is a promising left-back who warrants an opportunity to play as Luke Shaw is out for the season and Telles is solely starting for that reason. Marc Jurado plays on the opposite side of the defence and would jump at the opportunity for some first team minutes. Shola Shoretire became the second youngest player in Manchester United history when he made his debut vs Newcastle last season and could feature in the final few games. Hannibal’s show of passion against Liverpool was well received by United fans and appears to be one of the brightest prospects to come out of Carrington in recent years. With Matic and Pogba both departing and the latter being injured for the rest of the season, give the young man some minutes and let him settle into the first team picture. The final suggestion would be to give Charlie McNeil some minutes. Either partner him with Cristiano Ronaldo or let him replace the Portuguese legend for the last 20 minutes of a game. He’s been prolific for the youth team and certainly would be a worthy player to call upon, especially since Edison Cavani has been ‘unavailable’ all season with mysterious injuries. 

Tonight’s game against Brentford would be tough for the full complement to play in given United are playing in the FA Youth cup against Nottingham Forest this Wednesday in front of a record attendance for a youth game that looks set to exceed 38,000.  But once that is out the way the last couple games should see plenty of rotation and opportunities given to the kids. They deserve it, the current starters don’t.

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