After enduring a disastrous season, Manchester United’s Premier League campaign has finally ended, and for good!
As the darkest night precedes the brightest dawn, the club and the fans are already feeling optimistic for the upcoming season. With the inclusion of Erik ten Hag, who is set to take over the project, it is natural for the fans to be hopeful for things to change considering the title-winning season the Dutchman enjoyed with Ajax. The incoming gaffer has made it clear in his first interview with the team that his motive is to get the club “back to where it belongs”. A complete squad reshuffle is set to take place this summer with an exodus of players from Old Trafford before the next season.
With the likes of Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, and Edinson Cavani falling in this category, the new boss will look to fill in this void with players who could integrate well with the philosophy. Although bringing in an interim manager for the short term seemed to have backfired, Ralf Rangnick insisted that there could be two, maybe three players from the academy who could feature as starters in the senior team next season. Few academy starlets have already been given a look-in under Rangnick in the final weeks and also gave minutes to a few wonderkids in the final game of the season against Crystal Palace.
All you need to know of the few academy graduates who could make the cut in Man United senior team under Erik ten Hag:
The 19-year-old has spent two years with Manchester having made a move from Monaco. His few cameo appearances in the senior team under Rangnick have impressed the fans, particularly at Selhurst Park in the final game giving the crowd a hint as to what he could provide on the pitch.
Despite not being able to put one in the back of the net, the midfielder wasn’t afraid to make runs towards the final third and create chances. The Red Devils are left with Bruno Fernandes as their main attacking midfielder as Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard are set to depart the club this summer. It would be interesting to see a youngster used as an alternate to Fernandes to add more depth to the team.
ALVARO FERNANDEZ CARRERAS
The young Spaniard is yet to make his first-team debut with the senior team but is certainly proven himself to be an exciting prospect for the club. Playing at the left-back position, he has appeared 23 times in the Premier League 2, scoring three goals and has provided four assists.
Being a defender, the player has had stellar performances for his side, something which did not go unnoticed by the interim manager during his stint with United. Though Rangnick kept him on the bench even in the final match, in the last few weeks, he has allowed the player to train with the senior team thus improving his standards.
The defence this season has been a total let down leaking a lot of goals, making them the worst defensive side amongst the top-eight teams in the Premier League. With Luke Shaw’s contract expiring this summer making him a free agent, Fernandez could take this to his advantage and cement his spot in the first team next season. Although the club has an option to extend Shaw’s contract till 2024, it remains to be seen if Luke Shaw and Alex Telles could be rotated with youngsters from the academy.
Having signed the player from Atletico Madrid’s academy, Garnacho could be considered one of the wisest signings the club has made in recent times. The young sensation has blossomed into a killer winger with the ability to use pace to his advantage.
This season, Garnacho made two appearances with Premier League football to his name and has quickly managed to be under the new gaffer’s radar for the next season. He played a key role in helping the U-18s become the first United team to win the FA Youth Cup since 2011. In his breakthrough season, he scored seven goals across the course of their cup-winning campaign which included a brace in the 3-1 win over Nottingham Forest in the final. With the likes of Jadon Sancho and Anthony Elanga, it will be interesting to see if the manager puts faith in the youth and uses Garnacho as a starter.
The 21-year-old midfielder on loan to Nottingham Forest has had quite an impressive season scoring four league goals and eight assists. The player has been instrumental in taking his club to the top four of the EFL championship. Adding this to his profile has certainly given a sense to the Red Devils that he could be a prospect for the forthcoming season under ten Hag.
The Dutchman prefers his midfielders to exploit the free space created on the pitch and make forward runs which could add pressure to the opponents. Garner’s profile seems like a decent match as the player is capable of making forward runs and adding pressure. The midfield will be an area that United will look to bolster and Garner could find himself amongst the pecking order if he does remain at Old Trafford.
While Elanga has played 21 games for the club this season, the academy graduate was initially to be loaned by the club. The backing he received from the interim manager saw him get minutes in the matches, something that the player did not take for granted.
The young sensation restored his faith in the manager by playing some sensational football despite the club not having secured the champions league spot. Elanga has proven to be very pivotal to the team and can certainly add a threat to the opponent during matches.
After having played most of the matches this season, the player still has a lot to prove to the new manager. The pre-season matches would be the point where most of the graduates and new signings will want to prove themselves to the Dutchman.
It is a known fact that the gaffer, ten Hag has taken many youngsters under his wing and groomed them to a competitive level at Ajax. The examples of Frenkie de Jong, Donny van de Beek, and Matthijs de Ligt are not to be forgotten with the wonder season they had back in the 2019 Champions League. This could be good news for the academy graduates could use this to their advantage to get into the squad. While we can hope the youngsters get a chance under ten Hag and create an impact, it remains to be seen how the manager will fit them into his plans. That said, the graduates certainly could add more depth to the team and when coupled with the experienced lads in the first-team setup, the team could be balanced.