Manchester United have always had a remarkable record of bringing exciting young players from their academy, and have the distinction of featuring atleast one academy graduate in their first team squad for every matchday all the way back to October 1937. Under new manager Jose Mourinho, the fans (including myself) are hoping that the tradition continues, and in this piece, I will be examining two such youngsters who have made a pretty decent case for themselves in the last season when they were sent out on loan. Now not every player can make an impression as effective as Marcus Rashford did this year, but both of these players have tonnes of talent and ability and it will be intetesting to see if they can make the cut under the Portugese.
The 20 year old, who was once hailed as the finest striker to come out from the Red Devils’ academy since Norman Whiteside, spent the last season on loan at Championship side Brighton and Hove Albion. He scored 5 goals in 25 appearances, and his manager there, Chris Haughton is confident that he will return to Manchester as a much better player. The striker made his debut against Hull City for us on the last day of the 2013-14 campaign at Old Trafford, and had even scored in that game. However, under Louis van Gaal he struggled to pin down a spot (his only appearance in the last campaign in the Premier League came during their 3-0 loss at the hands of Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in October 2015) and despite scoring a few odd goals, was sent on loan to the coastal club. As the Seagull’s manager assesses,
” When you look at the five goals he has scored, and important goals, I think his contribution has been excellent. Certainly I think if he would have started more games, the fact he is a natural goalscorer, there’s no doubt he is a talent and I think he would have got us more goals. Overall, we have been delighted with his impact.”
However, I personally think Wilson is a bit too frail for Mourinho. Also, he doesn’t have the work rate that the former Madrid boss demands from all his players, and rarely ever goes into a 50-50 challenge. All in all, I personally feel it’s going to be hard for him to break into the squad and he may have to move elsewhere.
Barnsley beat Milwall recently in the League One play off finals, as a result of which they made it to the NPower Championships. One player who was basking in the glory of it all was Ashley Fletcher, the 20 year old Manchester United loanee who had a very successful loan spell there. The Englishman netted 11 times in all competitions, and showed great composure and work ethic whenever he featured. I personally feel he has a better chance under Mourinho, who prefers discipline over swagger. Talking about how he could have been the new ‘Rashford`, Fletcher had this to say after Barnsley`s triumph,
“It is strange to think what might have happened when you see what took place with Marcus. Part of me thinks: ‘It could have been me`. But football is funny like that – opportunities can crop up any time.”
And that’s exactly how it is, Fletch. Hoping to see your first team debut in the next campaign!