Nick Powell, back in game shape
It has been a very long summer. After the U21s in June, we’ve been stuck with transfer rumors, nostalgic youtube clips and eventually pre-season games. In the wake of the 4-1 victory away at Swansea, and the start of the U21 season, I thought I’d make a post about some of the promising midfielders and attacking players in our reserve team. Inspired by the comeback of the certain handsome guy in the picture, my favorite youth player at United, I want to narrow it down to those who played in todays’ win against West Bromwich Albions’ U21 team. That leaves us with Jesse Lingard, Larnell Cole, Nick Powell, Adnan Januzaj and Angelo Henriquez.
The purpose of the post is to introduce some of those who don’t follow our academy and reserve players to some of the most exciting ones we have got.
Angelo Henriquez in his debut for Manchester United
Who is Henriquez, and how did we end up buying him?
Physically he is a medium height (5 ft 10) striker from Santiago, the capital in Chile. His lightening quick feet, smart movement and ability to score a lot of goals at a young age, must have been some of the reasons for our scouts recommending him. As a 17 year old striker for Universidad in the Chilean league, he netted 11 goals in 17 games.
Being a dominating player for the time period he played for Chile U17 (3 goals in 4 appearances) and a star for Chile U20 with more goals than games played (21 goals in 17 apps), he was rumored to be on the radar of many big clubs.
Reading about his early years, you will find that he was actually just as big of a prospect in tennis as he now is in football. He didn’t start playing football until he was 12. I think we’ll call that natural talent and hard work. 5 years of football and picked up by Manchester United. Wow!
An interesting thing to point out about the Henriquez signing, is that he cost 4 mill €, and was part of a transfer where the clubs already a couple years earlier negotiated the rights to the player. The link is in Spanish.
Jesse Lingard, holding on to the ball as usual
A local kid and a “late” bloomer?
Lingard has been one of those players that never really got that much hype coming through the ranks in our club. At least not as much as a lot of other players. Maybe he has been in the shadow of Larnell Cole, who has always been touted to become something great? I don’t know. But he has really impressed the past twelve months. He is about as local as they get, coming from Warringtown, a town about 30 kilometers outside of Manchester. The club has always been patient with the local lads, and it seems like it is paying off once again.
He was never called up to play for England at U14-15-16-17-18 levels, but made his debut for England U21s after impressing everyone during Uniteds’ pre season in Asia and Sweden. He was not even called up to a weak England U21 during the championships in June. But man has he bounced back. One has to put him up there with Zaha, Januzaj and Fabio as contenders for best players during our summer tour, and they are all mentioned for different reasons. Lingard specifically for his ability to affect the outcome of games. Don’t get me wrong, he is good at passing, dribbling, running and all that stuff, but where he has been extraordinary has been at deciding the games. With killer passes that leads to goals or scoring them himself. 4 goals in 4 games this summer and plenty of great build up play.
Physcally he’s rather short at 5 ft 9, skinny and quick. Probably one of the fastest players off the ball in our entire squad. As mentioned above, the x-factor in affecting game has really started to show in Lingard, and he is, alongside Januzaj, the player with the most momentum in our reserves. Going from being “one of the bunch” to one of our best prospects in a season is a fantastic thing, and we just got to hope for a good loan-out or that he takes his chances when given for the first team this season.
Larnell Cole, always ready to recieve and distribute
A technical, versatile player? Are you sure he’s English?
Yes, he’s English. Even if he looks more like a Dutch player when you compare his abilities to many of the other English young players out there. He has been at United as soon as they are allowed to sign on as “schoolboys”, and got his trainee contract in 2011. He also made his debut against Leeds in the Carling Cup the same season. He has’nt made any first team appearances since then, but has definately not been forgotten. Those who has followed the youth teams at United, knows what this kid can do.
Larnell has always been a very technically gifted player, and has as long as I can remember, based his game around quick turns, fancy dribbles and tricky movement. This last season he has started to get better at involving others in his technical and flashy play, and has developed a very fine understanding with team mate Lingard. Watching the two of them go at it has you jumping off your chair at times, because the combination of technique, smart passing and quick movement is exciting as hell to watch. Unlike Henriquez and Lingard, has Cole never been given the chance to prove himself out on loan. But has he been as pressured to do so? Many would argue that he infact has proven a lot of potential already, and that training with the likes of Giggs and other great role models at United has been beneficial enough for Cole. It sure does look like it in the way his play has developed anyway. Being versatile, just like Lingard and Januzaj, Cole seems to have been given a more central role lately. Maybe they are trying to groom him into a classic 3-man midfield player? It is going to be exciting to see if he can take the final step or two this season to break into the first team. I am sure he would’ve been way more hyped if he didn’t have to sit out the pre-season due to participation in the U21s for England.
Adnan Januzaj, getting used to winning trophies for United
Belgian starlet and probably the most hyped youth player in the Premier League at the moment. Why?
Unlike Cole and Lingard, Januzaj is a foreign player that was brought in just two years ago to our academy, at 16 years old. He came from Anderlechts’ youth team, which is known for having a lot of good youngsters, and has been showing signs of greatness for the reserves throughout the 2012/2013 season. Topping that off with a very promising pre-season, and an official debut about two weeks ago against Wigan in the Community Shield.
He is probably the player that most of our fans know about when it comes to the youngsters. A massive talent from Brussels in Belgium, with an impressive vision, technical ability, dribbling skills and better finishing skills every day. Top that off with his ability to hit great set-pieces and penalty-taking ability, and every football fan should be starting to think about great false-9 players around the world.
I saw a striking similarity between him and the young Káká (when he played at Sao Paulo and his early days at Milan) last season for the reserves, and I’ve been standing by that ever since. He is 5’11, which is rather tall for players in his position, has that same kind of movement on the ball, and loves being available for passes at all times. The more of the ball he sees in a game, the better the teams’ attack flow and the more chances they create. We saw this in pre-season, where he completely stole the show with his dynamic and smart playstyle, and fantastic passing.
He has impressed enough to deserve a 5-year old contract with the club, which seemed to calm a lot of fans after the Fryers and Pogba incidents last summer. We might have the next big thing out of the academy in this guy, and I trust Moyes to bring out the best in him.
Nick Powell celebrating his goal in the debut game against Wigan in 2012
Why is a player from Crewe Alexandras’ youth system so highly rated?
A player that managed to get 55 games (and 14 goals) for Crewe Alexandra from age 16-18, a move to a better club was imminent. We beat clubs like Arsenal to it, and signed the former England U16,17,18,19 and now 21-player for a deal rumored to be worth up to 6 million pounds.
After a very promising pre-season for United in South Africa, he got his debut at home against Wigan, where he scored just 10 minutes after being subbed on to the pitch. Ferguson has said that Powell could fill the void of Scholes, and watching him tear up Chelsea in the league cup last season, I have no doubt about his potential. He is in no way as flashy as the other players on this list, but reminds a lot of an early Scholes or old Lampard type of player. He has the balls to go for long shots, combines brilliantly with other players and seems to always be where the action is when on the pitch. He is rather tall at 6ft, and showed his versatility last season for the reserves, playing both as a striker, behind the striker or in midfield. Many fans, myself included, was disappointed in the lack of opportunities that Nick was given last season. He was a key figure for our reserves at 18 and 19 years old, but was only given 2 appearances with the first team. He made his comeback today, scoring a goal early on, and looked fresh and quick on the ball. He really needs a great loan deal or to be integrated with the first team squad as soon as possible. He is good enough to do what Anderson did last season, which is to fill in when needed, and to play a decent amount of games when injuries strike or the fixture list is hectic. And we should look to do that as soon as possible.
Ross Barkley at Everton has been getting a lot of hype lately, and is a product of Moyes philosophy at Everton. I rate Powell as a similar talent, and I expect Moyes to help him develop into a starter for our team in time. That said, I am the biggest Powell fan in the world, so I might be writing this with thick United-glasses on. But I wholeheartedly believe every single word I’ve written about Nick.