Manchester United’s academy is so successful that the last crop of top youngsters to emerge from it, Ryan Giggs, Phil and Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and David Beckham, now have their own nostalgic documentary, the Class of 92, and joint-own local club Salford City.
Indeed, the Nevilles, Giggs, Beckham et al forged the core of a Red Devils side that dominated the early part of the Premier League era, so we at Football Fancast think it’s high time some of United’s current starlets are put under the spotlight.
With that in mind, here’s a list of FIVE young Red Devils to watch of for this season.
Some have already made first team debuts, a couple are on the fringes of the senior squad and a few are bubbling under the surface, continuing their development at junior level, but all are huge prospects for the future.
James Wilson made his Premier League debut for Manchester United during Ryan Giggs’ short caretaker spell at the end of last season, netting twice against Hull City:
The young striker, compared to Michael Owen amongst other monikers, has been used in a bit-part role by Louis van Gaal this term, totalling 67 minutes in the Premier League from four substitute outings in addition to a brief appearance amid United’s infamous 4-0 Capital One Cup defeat to MK Dons.
The 18 year-old is yet to get on the score sheet this year but he’s highly thought-of around Old Trafford, especially by Giggs, having amassed 14 goals in 18 appearances during his final season at U18 level and recorded similar triumphs with the reserve squad last term, netting against Bayer Leverkusen and Shaktar Donetsk in UEFA’s Youth Cup.
This strike against Aston Villa’s second string from November wasn’t too bad either:
With Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao both incredibly injury prone – there are even rumours suggesting the Colombian loanster could be sent back to Monaco if his knee troubles continue- it won’t be long before Wilson gets his first league start under van Gaal.
Here’s the England U19’s highlights from last season – a campaign which saw him score at every level for the Red Devils:
Defender Reece James was one of the standout performers amid United’s pre-season tour of the USA, netting twice in a 7-0 win over LA Galaxy:
The 21 year-old impressed in a progressive left wing-back role, with Louis van Gaal even favouring James over £27million summer signing Luke Shaw during pre-season.
That followed his integral contribution to the reserves’ 2013/14 campaign, which saw the United hotshot shortlisted for the Player of the Year award after making more appearances than any of his second-string team-mates.
Had it not been for an injury picked up towards the end of the summer, the young full-back would likely have been called upon in the Premier League by now, having made it onto the bench against Swansea City on the opening day of the season.
He’ll probably feature between now and May-time however, should United fail to add defenders to their squad in January as recently suggested, as the only viable deputy to Luke Shaw.
A surprise inclusion in Manchester United’s starting Xi on the opening day of the season, the combination of a lack of defensive depth and impressive outings in pre-season has seen Tyler Blackett thrust into first team action at Old Trafford this season.
With Louis van Gaal testing several different formations and United lacking experience and leadership at the back, the 20 year-old’s form has been rather turbulent this season, as shown below:
But strong, quick, tall and consistent on the ball, boasting a pass completion rate of 88%, under more accommodating circumstances, Blackett’s performances this term would likely be gaining more positive attention.
The 6 foot 2 centre-back has all the requisites to be a success in the Premier League and there are few better managers in the business to aid his development than Louis van Gaal. Here’s a look at Blackett in action:
He’s not started for United since seeing red against Leicester City in September, but with Phil Jones and Marco Rojo both sidelined through injury, it’s likely the England U21 will be called upon again in the coming weeks.
Manchester United fans won’t remember David Moyes’ eleven-month tenure too fondly, but they could be thanking the Scot in the years to come for signing former Zurich youngster Saidy Janko during his only summer at the club.
Indeed, the 19 year-old impressed enough to win the Reserves’ Player of the Season award during his debut term at Old Trafford and has since earned his first senior appearance for the Red Devils – a substitute outing in that League Cup defeat to MK Dons.
Bearing great similarities to Antoinio Valencia, Janko can feature anywhere along the right flank and is famed for his mixture of power, stamina and pace. Here’s a clip of the Switzerland U21 in action:
With Rafael out of action for the next few weeks, Janko could soon find himself promoted to Louis van Gaal’s Premier League squad.
Yet to make a competitive league appearance in his short career however, a loan move in January would perhaps aid his development better.
Arguably Manchester United’s most hyped academy player and yet another participant of the Capital One Cup defeat at Stadium MK, Sir Alex Ferguson fought off interest from Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool to sign Andreas Pereira from PSV Eindhoven in 2011.
Since, the young midfielder has become an integral performer for the Red Devils at Junior level, captaining United’s successful 2013 Milk Cup campaign where he won the Player of the Tournament award after netting three times en route to the final.
A real, old-fashioned No.10, the Belgian-born Brazilian, whose father played for Royal Antwerp, is famed for his creativity and technical ability, in addition to his recently-found leadership qualities. Here’s a look at Pereira in action:
Still just 18 years of age and with the likes of Adnan Januzaj, Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Angel Di Maria above him in the pecking order, the midfielder may struggle for game-time this season.
But he’s already caught Louis van Gaal’s attention enough to feature in the League Cup and remains one to keep an eye on, with an eventual first team breakthrough seemingly inevitable.