The Man United youth system
Is producing talent like crazy. With Januzaj, Welbeck and Cleverley as former reserve team players now playing regularly with the first team, a reserve team with talented players like Ekangamene, Barmby, Thorpe, Cole, Byrne and Pearson and the UEFA youth league squad looking great with talents like Rothwell, Wilson, Goss, Pereira and Janko, it is safe to say that we are looking very good in a long-term perspective. Knowing how many of the Premier League clubs that have ex-reds in their squads, how many Championship clubs that have the same and how well some of the players we lost (Pogba, Morrison, Fryers, Dæhlie) are doing in their new clubs, our ability to form and improve young players is impressive as ever.
This statistic looks even better
If you include some of the players we have loaned out this season. Finding January 17th on the calendar today, a total of 13players have been or are currently on loan at other clubs. The best part? Most of them are key players in their clubs, or at the very least playing consistently. Perfect!
Looking at how well players like Tom Cleverley, Johnny Evans and Danny Welbeck did at other clubs, and the fact that they were given chances when they returned from loan, seems to have set somewhat of a model of how our youth policy works. If someone is on the verge of making it, or looking like the reserve league is no longer providing a decent arena for challenge and development, we send them to other clubs so they can make new steps towards our first team. So far, it is looking very promising.
I got to 13 players on loan so far this season. Those should include; Tom Lawrence, M. Keane, W. Keane, Federico Macheda, Ben Amos, Jesse Lingard, Nick Powell, Angelo Henriquez, Sam Johnstone, Bebe, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Reece James, Marnick Vermijl.
Writing about all of them at the same time would make the post way too long, and to be fair – not all of the loaned out players are too exciting to follow. I’ll write about three of them in this post. I might follow this up and make a part-series about them if there is enough of an interest in the concept.
With their performance so far on loan in mind, I’ll pick out Vermijl, Powell and Ben Amos.
The former 3rd choice goalkeeper at United, Ben Amos, is currently on loan at Carlisle United. Carlisle is playing in League 1, and is having a rather underwhelming season. Sitting at 17th, with 5 points down to 24th and a long, long way to the top, every game is a struggle for the club, and now also for Ben. As most Man United academy goalkeepers, he is solid, has good basics, good physical attributes and a good attitude, but does not look to have the top level of a Man United first choice goalkeeper.
Moving on to his performances on Carlisle, he has been very decent. Stepping in as the goalkeeper in a team that is doing poorly is extremely hard. Having to perform well himself as well as coordinating an unorganized defense… One would probably not call that working under ideal conditions. Despite of that, Ben has done very well. He has conceded 12 goals in 9 appearances, but for a club that had a way worse average than that before he came in, those stats are better than one would think at first glance. Following reddit user Baelix’s loan threads has showed that Amos has had more than a couple of very good performances, and he looks set to make the step up and play in the Championship next season. In the context of this blog post, he looks to become one of the many players that worked his way through the clubs’ system and earned himself a decent career elsewhere.
A young Belgian, former Standard Liege player and a player that hasn’t been at the club for as long as some of the other players. Who is he? He seemed to go unnoticed for long periods when at United. Despite of that, he was one of the first names on the team sheet for the U21s. As a player, he fits the same category that many of our youth team sidebacks do. Former winger? Check. Quick and technically gifted? Check. Loves attacking? Check. In other words, he is somewhat of a Rafael light.
As for his loan, I was quite surprised to see him go to NEC Nijmegen in the Netherlands. I was sure he would end up in a Championship club or something like that.
As for NEC, they are the worst team in the Dutch league. Last place, 15 points in 18 games, 3 victories. Vermijl on the other hand, he has been the best player. The first name on the team sheet, right back, Marnick Vermijl. The youtube highlights from Baelixs’ threads usually show him driblling, going for crosses, bursting forward. A good, old attacking right back. His qualities on the ball are very good and he is has the physical ability to play in England. By that, I am refering to his height (180 cm) and his speed on and off the ball. Being the star player in a terrible team is a hard job, but Marnick has probably earned himself a contract at one of the better Dutch clubs, for a low-end Premier League club or a top Championship side next season. If he can keep a similar level of performances throughout the rest of the season, I can see Solskjær being interested in bringing him in. He knows him well, would probably get him on a free, and he fits the Solskjær philosophy of attacking defenders.
A very much talked about signing last season, doing very well the few times he was given a chance with the first team and constantly getting praise from Sir Alex in the media, I am pretty sure he was considered as a player to stay with the team this season. A loan out to Wigan was too good to turn down, and the promise of playing every week was just perfect for him. As a goal scoring, versatile player, able to play in midfield, attacking midfield, off the striker or as the striker, Powell has proven himself as a key player for a Wigan that has had has slowly worked their way up towards the play-off spots. Knowing Powells’ history with big play-off games, one would guess that he would like nothing more than sending Wigan right back up to the Premiership.
As a player, he has had a very consistent season at Wigan. Consistently good. Whoscored has him as the 5th best performing player at the club, slightly behind the goalkeeper, their CB pairing and star player Shaun Maloney. On the pitch, he delivers power, clever movement, short passing and more than anything, goals. Currently sitting at 10 goals in all tournaments in 22 starts and 4 sub-ons, is a very impressive statistic for the sexiest, young supertalent in the country. As a player, he looks a lot more mature than his 19 years of age would indicate. He looks calm, determined and focused whenever I watch him play, and I can not see him not becoming a top class player. I know I might have less credibility in this situation than most, as those who have followed the blog and/or my reddit comments since his arrival, know I am a huge Powell fan. But I genuinely believe this. He will become top, top class.
His ability to shoot, win headers, to tackle and to create chances puts him in a very impressive spot for such a young player. He will need to work on his passing accuracy if he wants to play in the Man United midfield, and hwo better than Paul Scholes to tutor him? I can see him playing an increasingly important part next season. Hopefully he stays fit for the pre-season this time, and gets to play his way into the team in the same way Adnan has done.
As an end note
I am delighted in the way our younger players have performed this season. For the first team, our young players have been the ones standing out. Jones, Adnan, and recently Welbeck have all been performing very well. The loaned out players have been extremely impressive too. Of those not mentioned, and as possible players to look into on a later occation, Lingard, Henriquez and Tunnicliffe would be some of those who have played the most of games, and in turn are those who makes the most sense to evaluate.
As a question to the good folks of /r/reddevils, I want to know whether this is as interesting to you as it is to me, and if that means that you would like more original content on this topic. If that is the case, which three players should be explored and why?
As a bonus question, I wonder which one of the players on loan has impressed you the most this season.