Things are beginning to look a bit more positive for Manchester United with four wins on the trot bringing an air of optimism to Old Trafford.
And it can only get better for the Reds with one of the most exciting groups of young players in years making their way through the academy. Kieran McKenna’s under-18 side has been in majestic form this season with a giant-killing exit from the FA Youth Cup the only negative of the campaign thus far.
Nicky Butt, meanwhile, leads the reserves side after Warren Joyce left the role. With so many players loaned out, they’ve struggled in the main but a recent change to a 3-5-2 formation has seen an upturn in fortunes. Both teams have some prodigiously talented starlets ready to break into the first team.
“With Axel, 10 minutes is enough! The potential is there, you see it immediately.”
The words of Jose Mourinho back in July now seem somewhat hollow with United seemingly on the verge of spending €40 million on Victor Lindelöf without giving Tuanzebe a real chance in the first team. The defender has trained frequently with the senior side but is yet to make a matchday squad under Mourinho.
However, with Eric Bailly Africa-bound, Phil Jones almost inevitably heading for an injury and Marcos Rojo on an unerring collision course with the FA Disciplinary Committee, the youngster could soon get his chance. If he does, expect him to seize it with both hands.
Whether it be at United or not, Tuanzebe will be a success. Quick, intelligent and composed, he is set for big things.
Position: Central Midfield
Of all the talents in the Manchester United academy, Goss has possibly the best opportunity for a long stint in the first team. With the career of Michael Carrick winding down, the German-born midfielder has the vision and passing to replace the veteran midfielder long-term. While he lacks the defensive nous of the former Spurs man, he has the potential to be a massive addition to the first team squad.
He trained with Mourinho’s charges last week and could get a chance against Reading in the cup in a few weeks time.
Famously quick and bafflingly strong for his age, Williams possesses all the attributes necessary to explode onto the first team scene and stay there.
Like Goss, he could replace an ageing member of the current member of the team with Antonio Valencia now the wrong side of 30. The Ecuadorian undoubtedly has a few more good years in him though and Roshaun is still very raw. Matteo Darmian’s expected departure next summer should see the teenager welcomed into the first-team fold.
England youth coach Kenny Swain told Bleacher Report about the Salford-born lad.
“I heard about Gribbs through our scouting network and everyone would say, ‘You have to see this lad, he is similar to this player, or that player’. Then I’d go and look at him, then within five minutes, you can see that this boy is something special.”
While concerns about attitude problems persist, Gribbin’s ability speaks for itself. Already impressing for the reserves side, the starlet is on the brink of completing his rise through United’s famed academy.
He possesses both the talent and temperament of Ravel Morrison, the real star of Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard’s 2011 Youth Cup win. The coming year is pivotal in deciding if he follows the path of the former, in footballing wilderness, or the latter, now mainstays in the first team.
Chong’s recent goal against Southampton summed the young Dutchman up.
Inventive, precise and simply superb. It’s time United cut their losses with Memphis Depay, thank Ashley Young for his services, convert Marcus Rashford back into a striker and put their faith in Chong and Gribbin.
Far from the finished article but as talented a player as could hope to watch at that level.
Position: Attacking Midfield
Angel Gomes has long been the jewel of the United academy with videos of his famed abilities routinely going viral. Considering it will likely be several years before he makes his first team bow, patience is key for the young Englishman.
Overtures from Barcelona highlight just how highly thought of he is.