Erik ten Hag delighted with Manchester United youngsters after Athletic Bilbao draw
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag expressed his delight with how the youngsters performed after the draw against Athletic Bilbao.
The Red Devils took on the La Liga outfit in the final pre-season friendly before our Premier League opener against Wolverhampton Wanderers on 14 August. At the Aviva Stadium in Ireland, it was the Spanish side who took the lead. However, the Old Trafford side managed to equalise in the final seconds of the game.
United’s starting lineup mostly consisted of the second-string players in the squad and some prospects. Speaking to MUTV (h/t Manchester Evening News) after the fixture ended 1-1, Ten Hag believes the young players deserved an opportunity and made the most of it.
“They deserve it; otherwise, we don’t line them up. When you start pre-season, we have to give them opportunities, but they have to take it. They are brave, and that is what I like.
“Be brave, play football, and show yourself. If you want to play in the first team, you have to take responsibility in and out of possession, and those young guys are doing it.”
Alvaro Fernandez, Daniel Gore, Facundo Pellistri and Omari Forson started the match for the Red Devils. However, it was Athletic’s youngster Nico Williams who found the back of the net first and gave them the lead at around the half-hour mark.
Then the likes of Hannibal Mejbri, Joe Hugill and Noam Emeran came on as substitutes in the second half. With the Old Trafford side a goal down, it was Pellistri who managed to level the scores in stoppage time.
The Uruguay international has been at the club since the summer of 2020. However, the 21-year-old has been unable to break into Ten Hag’s plans so far. Although, the gaffer did give him some chances in the second half of the previous campaign.
At Ajax Amsterdam, the Dutch manager built a pedigree of nurturing some of the world’s best talents. Since his arrival in Manchester, Alejandro Garnacho has been the standout prospect.
The Argentina international found it difficult to get game time at the start of last season. However, the 19-year-old slowly managed to gain Ten Hag’s trust and is now a key player for us.
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We have one of the best academies in world football. Hopefully, the gaffer will be able to make the most of it and give the homegrown players a way into the senior squad.