Manchester United’s Norwegian connection has been a lucrative one. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer cemented his place in United history when he scored the winner in the 1999 Champions League final. Ronny Johnsen played a hand in helping United win 4 league titles and an FA Cup and Henning Berg was a part of United’s treble winning team.
Now a new generation of Norwegians are ready to carve out careers at Old Trafford. Midfielder Magnus Eikrem has been lighting up the reserves and could be knocking on the door of the first team very soon whilst creative playmaker and former Norway’s U-16 captain Etzaz Hussein is making waves in the academy.
But the Norwegian that is creating the most buzz at Old Trafford without a doubt must be Josh King.
Playing for Vaalerenga’s U19 team at the tender age of 15 did not faze King (who probably did not look out of place as he was 5ft 9” at the time) and he was taken on trial at United. After impressing, he joined on his 16th birthday in January 2008 where he went into the academy and despite being plagued with injury, when he did play he impressed.
His progression through the ranks inevitably meant that he would move up to reserve level and play for his fellow country man Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and this August he started his first game for the reserves against Bolton and showed why he could very well be heir to the Old Trafford crown as he ran Bolton’s back line into the ground as well as setting up Zoran Tosic for the United’s 2nd goal in a 3-1 win.
King carried on in this rich vein of form but really shone in October as he grabbed a brace against Sunderland’s reserves along with Magnus Eikrem in a 4-0 win.
The performance was enough to catch the eye of United boss Sir Alex Ferguson who handed the two young Norwegians squad numbers, King, 41, Eikrem, 42 and placed both in the Carling Cup squad to face Wolves.
A natural athlete, King is powerful and tall, using his size as well as skill to beat players. It also helps that he is also very quick both with and without the ball. Technically sound, he can play on either wing but is predominantly a striker with a keen eye for goal.
One of the things that impressed people most, beyond his startling ability, is the fact that he is so mentally strong. He made the jump from academy to reserve football without the slightest of problems and even in his Carling Cup cameo he was not overawed by the occasion like some may have been. He ran with the ball, took defenders on (making one look silly with a cheeky bit of skill) and most importantly was not afraid to have a shot, forcing Marcus Hahnemann to make a save at his near post.
Obviously with all young players there are a multitude of things that can hamper development as so many potential world beaters have faded into obscurity (Danny Cadamarteri was highly touted as England’s next nig thing but after a spell at Huddersfield Town, now plays for Dundee United), but coming so highly regarded by all involved with him, if Josh King fulfils just some of his potential United could have yet another star on their hands.
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