This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
It’s fair to say there have probably been better times than now to be a Manchester United supporter. The club have drifted away from the elite since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson back in 2013, and have had a huge turnover of both managers and players alike.
Now it’s the turn of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to try and turn things around for the Red Devils, and the Norwegian has publicly insisted he is keen to rebuild this new side around some of the club’s brightest home-grown players.
Whilst that hasn’t exactly been the case entirely – stand-out prospect Mason Greenwood hasn’t made a single Premier League start this season – the future does look genuinely bright for the Manchester side, despite their current struggles.
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Teenagers and young stars are on the verge of making their breakthroughs into the side, and quite promisingly for United, in a wide array of positions too. So cheer up United fans, as we take a look at just what the team could look like if the academy is really given the chance to shine.
Having signed a new long-term contract, David de Gea is likely to be the man in between the sticks for the foreseeable future despite potential competition from Dean Henderson. And as two big-money arrivals this summer, Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka will surely nail down two of the positions in the back-four.
Elsewhere is where things get really interesting. Axel Tuanzebe and Brandon Williams could be two of United’s homegrown youngsters to play in defence – and as such, it will make for equally good reading for England boss Gareth Southgate.
In central midfield, Scott McTominay looks to be an ever-present, as he continues to get better game-by-game. Former United ace Lee Sharpe even drew huge comparisons between the Scot and Red Devils legends Roy Keane and Bryan Robson – high praise indeed. Alongside him, 18-year-old James Garner could finally replace the likes of Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes.
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The teenager has earned rave reviews from Solskjaer, and looks set for a very bright future indeed. And, in an academy-dominated front four, Angel Gomes and Tahith Chong may feel confident of establishing themselves on a more regular basis. Marcus Rashford’s striking woes could see him shifted out on to the left-hand side, but it is the position from where he has produced two goals and an assist in three games this season.
Last, but not least, Greenwood is the man the entire club appear to be resting their fortunes on. The starlet has hit the ground running in the first-team, scoring in his first two starts of the season against both FC Astana and Rochdale. Amidst all the criticism the club have received for not having a proven goal-scorer, the Manchester-born forward may ease those concerns once and for all over the next couple of seasons.
Things may look bleak now, but there does appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel for United and their supporters.